American Marketing Meetings

Americans tend to lay their cards on the table and hurry through the information exchange to persuasion. After all, the persuasion is the heart of the matter. Why hold a meeting unless someone’s mind is to be changed? A key aspect of sales training in the United states is handling objections. So the goal in information exchange among Americans is to quickly get those objections out in the open so they can be handled.
This handling can mean providing clients with more information. It can also mean getting mean. As suggested by exhibit. Americans make threats and issue warnings in negotiations. They do not use such tactics often, but negotiators in many other cultures use such tactics even less frequently and in different circumstances. For example, notice how frequently the Mexicans and English speaking Canadians use threats and warnings in the simulated negotiations. Others have found Filipino and Chinese negotiators to use a less aggressive approach than Americans. Indeed in Thailand or China the use of such aggressive negotiation tactics can result in the loss of face and the destruction of important personal relationships. Such tough tactics may be used on Japan, but by buyers only and usually only in informal circumstances – not at the formal negotiation table. Americans also get mad during negotiations and express emotions that may be completely inappropriate in foreign countries. Such emotional outbursts may be seen as infantile or even barbaric behaviour in places like Hong Kong and Bangkok.
The most powerful persuasive tactics is actually asking more questions. Foreign counterparts can be politely asked to explain why they must have delivery in two months or why they must have a 10 per cent discount. Chester Karrass in his still useful book ‘The negotiation Game’ suggests that it is smart to be a little dumb in business negotiations. Repeat questions, for example, I didn’t completely understand what you meant – can you please explain that again? If clients or potential business partners have good answers, then perhaps a compromise on the issue is best. Often however under close and repeated scrutiny their answers are not very good. When their weal position is exposed they are obliged to conceded questions and elicit key information being the most powerful yet passive persuasive device. Indeed, the use of question is a favoured Japanese tactic, one they use with great effect on Americans.
Third parties and informal channels of communication are the indispensable media of persuasion in many countries particularly the more relationship oriented ones. Meetings in restaurants or meetings with references and mutual friends who originally provided introductions may be used to handle difficult problems with partners in other countries. The value of such informal settings and trusted intermediaries is greatest when problems are emotion laden. They provide a means for simultaneously delivering difficult messages and saving face. Although American managers may eschew such behind the scene approaches they are standard practice in many countries.
Concessions and agreement:
Comments made previously about the importance of writing down concession making strategies and understanding differences in decision making styles – sequential versus holistic – are pertinent here. Americans often make concessions early, expecting foreign counterparts to reciprocate. However, in many cultures no concessions are made until the end of the negotiations. Americans often get frustrated and express anger when foreign clients and partners are simply following a different approach to concession making. One that can also work quite well when both sides understand what is going on.
Source: International Marketing