Selling in Europe

Just returned from London, where I was teaching our FOCIS® consultative selling course to sales representatives from Ireland, Spain, France, England, Germany, and the Netherlands.

Although Europeans often speak excellent English, especially those in business, communication can still be a challenge. For example, in the U.S., if I compliment a FOCIS® participant by saying “That’s an A+ answer!” everyone in the room knows exactly what I mean. But when I used that phrase in London last week, there were only blank stares.

A fast learner, I did not follow up by saying, “You know–you get a gold star!” Instead, I simply said “A+” means “Excellent!” Then there were smiles all around.

Many Americans know, or have heard, that doing business in Europe is “different.” And it is, just as it would be for anyone operating in a culture other than their own. Fortunately, London reminded me that the language of consultative selling is similar across many boundaries.

The reason is that effective selling means helping a prospect see the value in what you’re offering by asking the right questions and really listening to the responses. In any language, “pushing product” causes a prospect’s defenses to go up and stay up. OK, just for practice: “Pushing product” means “talking more about yourself and your product than asking questions about your prospect’s problems.”


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