Have you ever had the feeling that your deal is going wrong, even though you can’t think of any reason as to why? Do you have all the qualifications, yet they don’t seem to help you with people from countries other than your own? Most likely, you haven’t factored the crucial impact of culture into the equation.
Operationalizing Hofstede’s 6-D model of National Culture, ‘Negotiate like a local: 7 Mindsets to increase your success rate in international business’, written by Hofstede Insights Associate Partners Jean-Pierre Coene and Marc Jacobs, is indispensable for anyone who finds themselves in an international setting. Building on Huib Wursten’s Culture Clusters™ in the context of international business, the authors have created something which surpasses a simple “how-to” guide comprising of do’s and don’ts.
Their personal anecdotes provide insight into the breadth of experience that both Jean-Pierre and Marc have in this field and humanize the struggles of international negotiation. Unique in its “interactive” style, which differentiates it from purely academic literature, you can dip in and out, read the whole thing at once, or use it as a reference book as and when you need; it is a must-have for your desk.
The idea of writing this book originated as Marc translating Jean-Pierre’s book ‘Négociation internationale – L’entretien de vente en B to B’ into Dutch. His book was written from a French cultural perspective, to help the French with international negotiation, and by translating it, it would become accessible to the Flemish population of Belgium, who have a similar negotiation style.
However, to expand the target audience, they decided to change their approach and write a book in English which would be accessible to and usable by anyone, from anywhere in the world. It even offers advice on how to read it based on whether you prefer to jump straight into the “how” or, like them, learn about the “why” first.
Whether it is your first time negotiating internationally, or your hundredth, this book provides invaluable insight into the negotiation styles of over 100 countries, making them practical by grouping these countries into seven different clusters: The Competitors, The Organisers, The Connected, The Diplomats, The Reciprocators, The Marathonians, and The Craftsmen. These represent the most common mindset found in each country and are presented in an easily understandable context.
There are two ways of identifying which cluster you are working with. The first, is to find your country of interest in the index, which then also states the cluster to which that country belongs. You can then read the corresponding chapter. If, however, you cannot find your country of interest in the index, there being no data for it in the 6-D model, Jean-Pierre and Marc provide helpful ways to recognise each of the clusters through observation.
Some questions to ask yourself about the interactions include:
- Are they willing to work with you to solve a problem?
- Is the relationship more important than the deal?
- Why are they interested in your service?
Frequently used vocabulary of each of the seven clusters also provides an insight into how they see you. You can learn to recognize language including words such as challenge, consensus, rules, structure and trust to help you identify the relevant clusters.
As an example, the UK, the USA and Australia are all part of the Competitor cluster. People from these countries tend to exhibit a strong sense of competition and a desire to win at any cost in their negotiation style. This style can be recognised via the use of vocabulary such as achievement, winning, target and challenge. Asking question like why they are interested in our product, and what do they hope to achieve from this negotiation, can also help you to identify this cluster as these will bring out their competitive tendencies.
In this cluster, emotion is considered a sign of weakness, as shown in this excerpt from the book:
A Personal Anecdote
During one of Jean-Pierre’s routine visits to a company that was in financial difficulties, the purchasing manager announced at the beginning of the meeting that they wouldn’t be seeing each other anymore because his own contract was going to be terminated. Since he explained this to Jean-Pierre in a rather matter of fact way, he was intrigues and asked how he could so calmly accept this. Wasn’t he disappointed? He told Jean-Pierre he’d receive a decent ‘golden handshake’ and that, he understood the sums. “They don’t have any choice than to streamline the company and let me go.
For the Competitor, business is just a game of sums. Note that you can use this idea to underpin your arguments or refuse a price reduction. NEVER EVER use emotional arguments to present your case. Always remain factual, numeric and pragmatic.
Once you know how to recognize their negotiating style, you can adapt yours accordingly, to suit theirs. In the case of the Competitors, you should prepare for styles which can take the form of mental wrestling matches in which strength is valued, or chess matches, in which strategy is your most important asset. Keep in mind that your client will try and “win” the negotiation. This may seem strange to you if you are used to striving for consensus, but the Competitors will not recognise or understand this approach and may think you have an ulterior motive.
As soon as you have identified which cluster you are negotiating with, you can then follow the intelligible six-step guide to navigate the sales process:
- establishing contact
- establishing trust
- identifying the needs of your client
- presenting the commercial proposal
- negotiating the price
- closing the deal
Beyond this how-to guide, the explanation of the different ways of doing things using the 6-D model, allow you to appreciate the value of different negotiation styles and adapt your own style to meet the expectations of your clients, enabling you to “negotiate like a local”.
This book also helps you recognize your own culture, without the unpleasant culture shock which normally acts as the catalyst to acknowledging how foreign your “normal” way of doing things comes across to many people. This in turn will help you reduce the potential risk of conflict and misunderstanding in the negotiating process.
‘Negotiate like a local’, as said by Prof. Gert Jan Hofstede, ‘reads like a novel’ and bridges the gap between the rigorous academic background of the model and the real-life situations in which it is most significant. This easy-to-read book will give you an advantage in the competitive world of business, while imparting you with skills which are transferrable to all areas of life.
Top Customer Reviews
“The best book I have ever read on the cultural aspects of negotiation and even the best book I have read on cultural aspects of doing business around the world full stop. A very practical read with a lot of personal experiences that explains logically and demystifies what we are up against out in the negotiation field. The book is also a useful 360° tool that makes you more conscious of how much an alien you must be to your counterparty as he/she is to you.”
“This is a brilliant guide to conducting negotiations with different cultures to your own, it even provided me some insight into how and why we negotiate the way we do in the UK. If you work, negotiate or sell across different countries and cultures this is a valuable resource which will guide you through the best way to adapt your own style to suit that of your counterpart.
the book even gave me some insights into how my staff, who are pan-European differ in their own approaches and it will enable me to better serve their needs.
It is split into sections describing the culture types, which allows you to dip in and out of the book as you require when facing a new negotiation with a different culture to your own.
An easy read, full of wisdom, which I highly recommend.”