If you are in sales, you are probably familiar with the terms that sales managers and consultants use to coach sales teams. Phrases such as ‘initiating contact’, ‘staying visible’, ‘time management’, and ‘setting daily goals’ are all directed to the individuals who are doing the selling. What is often omitted in sales training, however, are terms that emphasize the need to understand the buyers themselves, particularly if the buyers are Hispanics.
To successfully sell to Hispanic buyers, one should first review the key reasons that encourage their current Hispanic customers to buy their products or services. Questions such as why they chose ‘to buy’ or ‘not buy’ under certain selling circumstances can provide helpful hints. Also, new terms such as ‘defining a buyers need’, ‘utilizing apreferred selling style’, and ‘understanding closing protocols’ should become an integral part of every sales trainer’s vocabulary.
To reach Hispanic buyers, some companies have hired Spanish-speaking personnel with ten or more years of experience. They believe that by having a staff of experienced Spanish-speaking sales personnel to deal directly with their prospective Hispanic buyers, sales teams will have a better chance of closing a sale. What they fail to take into account, however, is that the barrier between buyer and seller has less to do with the Spanish language and more to do with the many different Hispanic cultures.
How many cultures? …over 30! Does that mean that a company would need to hire over 30 experienced Spanish-speaking sales personnel, one from each culture, to succeed in this endeavor? In theory, yes, however, in reality, not exactly.
Companies should consider Hispanic multi-cultural issues when developing a sales force. A specialized sales team tends to be more expensive and when dealing with Hispanic buyers may render less than favorable results. Shifting the emphasis from acquiring an experienced sales force to researching buyer needs, preferences, and protocols is a step in the right direction.
One way to look at this approach is to think of ‘photographing’ a market segment at a geographic level using primary market research data. The response data will highlight the various Hispanic cultures residing in each targeted market area and provide a meaningful foundation from which to develop a culturally sensitive sales procedure based on actual needs and preferences.
With this approach, the cultural composition for a more effective sales force for that specific area will become practically self-evident.
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