o "a reach prospective credit-card applicants in countries such as India, Malaysia, and Thailand. Citibank captured 40 percent of Thailand's credit-card market, relying primarily on a sales force of 600 part-timers who were paid a fee for each applicant approved.103
There are a number of differences in the business environments and cultures of the United States and other countries that impact the personal selling process.104 First of all, U.S.-based salespeople generally encounter a longer sales cycle in foreign markets than they do domestically, a situation that may be due to several factors such as cultural differences, business practices, and more tenuous economic conditions. In countries such as Italy and Spain, as well as in Latin America, salespeople must spend more time on the social aspects of selling, and this can prolong the sales cycle. There is a tendency toward more conservative business practices in countries such as Germany, where the business culture is older and very ingrained. Germans are more risk-averse and thorough in evaluating business deals. They require strong reassurance and will conduct extensive reviews and ask for multiple references before closing a deal.105 In the Middle East, price negotiations are common, and buyers often want to feel they extracted some concessions from sellers. Unstable economic conditions in many countries in the Middle East and Latin America can also complicate the selling process, as currency devaluations are common and financing is a major issue that must be addressed.
Because it involves personal contact and communication, personal selling is generally even more culture bound than advertising. So most companies use sales reps from the host country and adapt personal selling activities and sales programs to each market. Management of the sales force is usually decentralized to the local subsidiaries, although the international marketer sets the general sales policy and advises foreign managers on the role personal selling should play in their market, the development of the sales program, and various aspects of sales management.
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