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VIENNA, Austria — Imagine this: You travel for the first time in your life to a strange and rough place. You leave your car for five minutes because of an emergency. When you come back, it’s gone!
Bettina Mannsbart points out that when networking with European operators, it’s all about understanding people, talking about details, and arriving at solutions together.
You have left all your documents such as passports, tickets, itineraries and telephone numbers in the car along with your mobile phone. You look around, you don‘t know exactly where you are, you don‘t speak the language, and you don‘t know anyone.
In a single second, you realize that it doesn‘t help that you are 1) An American; 2) You own or work for a big company; 3) You have an administrative assistant or colleague who speaks three languages.
Because you are completely alone and unmoored — with only your experiences, knowledge and skills.
Remember this scenario, because that’s the point where the salesperson in you starts to work. You want help from a stranger but you have to sell this person on why you are worth the time to do something for you the way you want and need it.
That’s the same principle that applies to attracting and pursuing affiliates. Being in the above situation makes you think of and notice multiple ways of nonverbal communication — you suddenly can read things you have never seen before and you find you can communicate with strangers in a nice and devoted manner you ordinarily would never have talked to.
You unpack all your manners and charm and try to discern what the other person is thinking without saying anything that alienates them — in order to get what you want. Now that’s what you call real sales.
Why will you need that approach when getting business from Europeans?
Europeans have spent their entire lives fighting for their own identities and their own space as well as for being unique, not uniform. Therefore, every single country in geographical Europe (46 countries in total) thinks what it does is the best way and everyone should do it like them.
But just as you can‘t survive without anyone else in Europe, you must learn quickly to deal with people and find out what they need to trade against what you need. With European operators, it’s all about dealing with people, talking about it, and arriving at a solution together.
There are some general facts you should be aware of when comparing the U.S. and Europe.
US: If you drive from the north to south, east to west, through all the states, you will:
- Still read and speak the same language.
- Still pay with the same currency.
- Still have the same President.
- Still drive the same speeds.
- Still find the same food everywhere under the same hours of business.
- Still have the feeling that other people´s way of life is similar to yours.
Europe: This is different in Europe. If you drive from the north to the south in Europe, these are some things that you encounter: 46 countries, 23 official languages (about 110 languages including dialects), 33 currencies, 46 heads of states, some Kings and Queens, unique ethnic foods, varying laws, driving on the left or the right, being able to drive as fast as you want or not even one kilometer more than allowed, and signs, habits and mentalities that vary in each country.
So you can imagine that it is already quite an adventure traveling through Europe but it can be even harder to work with all of these differences.
How does that affect you when you want to farm out to Europe or take in business from Europe?