Prospecting and negotiating: the importance of knowing your future clients

Carry out customer prospection and adapt your negotiation strategy to the target market’s culture


International business prospection requires a good knowledge of the target country’s cultural practices.

Having a good knowledge of the market’s habits and customs is essential. This will allow you to conduct more effective negotiations. Business practices are different from one culture to another.

A cultural study of the country will help you avoid making mistakes. The goal is to develop a business relationship based on trust and to close sales.

CQI can guide your prospection and negotiation efforts during the export process.

Quickly understand the benefits of studying your target market’s culture before doing any prospection or negotiation

Would you approach an American, a Frenchman or a Chinese person the same way when you travel? Of course not. Everyone knows that cultural differences exist and that, as a visitor, we must respect the traditions and ways of doing things in the country we are visiting.

Well, the same is true with international trade. Talk to seasoned exporters and ask them to tell you about their first contacts when prospecting abroad. You’ll be surprised to learn how some seemingly insignificant details can lead to embarrassing situations.

Also, it is important to be well informed about the target market’s business culture and common practices before beginning any form of prospection or negotiation. This will help you avoid many problems and irreversible situations that could put you in hot water and cause you to lose a sale.

Choose your approach, study your prospect and prepare your negotiation

Once you have planned your strategy, carried out your market research, qualified your customer and determined your sales price, it’s time to focus on your target market.

What language does your prospect speak? What is the cultural, political and economic context? What risks do you face in this territory (economic crisis, war, social tensions, etc.)? These are all questions that need to be answered, because you won’t negotiate in Colombia as you would in France. Let’s look at the necessary steps to be taken for successful prospection and subsequent negotiation in a targeted market.

Step 1
Getting to know the market and the potential customer

The first step is to get to know the potential customer you want to reach and set your goals for that customer. Learn about the company and their sector of activity. Know who you will be talking to and who will be present at your negotiation meeting, including their full name and position. It is also a good idea to find out about your future client’s competitors and your own competitors in the target market. What is the way of doing business in this market? What are the country’s cultural peculiarities, customs and etiquette? Find out to make your efforts more profitable.

Step 2
Preparing your sales pitch and highlighting your strengths

For your prospection process to be successful, you must base your sales arguments on the benefits your client should expect from doing business with you. What are the advantages of using your products or services? What is your added value, what differentiates you from others? What solutions will you apply to a given situation? How will your proposal help your customer achieve his/her own goals? Remember that the primary objective is to generate interest. Keep your pitch short and to the point. Provide a clear proposal and rehearse your presentation.

Step 3
Creating effective and culturally appropriate tools for your target market

Before your prospection visit, you must also decide which marketing tools you will be using to complement your information. It is essential to adapt these tools to the market’s language and colors. Here are some examples of such tools:

  • A video introducing your products and showcasing how to use them
  • A demonstration
  • Sales and technical sheets
  • A local currency price list
  • Business cards in the market’s preferred style
  • Etc.

Step 4
Keeping an open mind throughout the meeting

Be aware that you are the person visiting the target country. You must know the customs, culture and business etiquette of the people you will be facing. This is a solid foundation on which to base your negotiation. During the meeting, you should:

  • Be sincere, be yourself
  • Ask questions
  • Listen to the people you are meeting with
  • Adapt to the situation and the conversation
  • Refrain from making false promises
  • Know when to stop talking
  • Be clear about next steps in closing

Step 5
Following up quickly after negotiations

Once you’ve had your prospecting meeting, make sure you follow up with your prospect quickly. Send them an email thanking them for their time and expressing how much you enjoyed your conversation. Include additional information, a video, a data sheet, etc. Let your contact know when and how you will get back in touch with them, adding that you are available to answer their questions. If you have agreed to send a service offer, do so quickly within a few days of your meeting.

On your marks, get set… and find out about your target market’s culture!

You need to remember that prior to a prospection meeting, you must prepare, learn as much as possible about your potential client and carefully study the culture and ways of doing business in the target market. It is also important to be open-minded, to observe the local environment, to feel out the terrain and to get information from people who have already negotiated contracts in the country where you wish to export. Whether elsewhere or here, remember that it’s the relationship you develop with your prospect that really makes the difference. CQI can help you with these various matters and assist you in all your international endeavors, through our Horizon 360TM Export Coaching Program, among others.

You wish to be well prepared for

prospecting and negotiating with your international customers?

Contact CQI