They say that the world is getting smaller every day. This may be true, but the people who live in this smaller world couldn’t be more different than they are! A case in point are theÃ‚Â sales negotiators who hail from the Middle East – Arabs if you will. Unlike us in the West who become uptight at the mere thought of entering into a negotiation, they actually look forward to negations – it’s fun!
There is a lot going on behind the scenes here. Not the least of which is that negotiating has been a key part of Arab culture since days in which the very first trade routes wound their way through the Middle East connecting Europe to the Orient. They’ve gotten to be quite good at this skill and it shows when you negotiate with them.
One thing that Westerners need to understand when entering into negotiations with Arabs is that bargaining is a very social activity for them. You’ll find that you will be greeted warmly and food and drink are often provided in generous quantities. This can throw a Western sales negotiator off because you’ll start to feel as though you are at a dinner party instead of a sales negotiation.
Arabs also have a different view of time than those from the West. In part because they enjoy the sales negotiation process nothing will be rushed. You’ll find that there are many breaks, many side discussions, and frequent interruptions.
These interruptions may include visits from people not involved in the sales negotiations. They may come and go multiple times. Just let it happen. You need to keep your calm and realize that you are playing the same sales negotiation game, just at a different table.
Finally, you need to realize that Arabs don’t really worry about deadlocks. They have no problems walking away from a sales negotiation and then coming back to it later on. They always hope to eventually do a deal, but they realize that sometimes this is not possible.
Have you ever had a chance to participate in a sales negotiation when the other side of the table was from the Middle East? Did they seem to enjoy the sales negotiation process? Was time a factor? Did you ever encounter a deadlock? Leave me a comment and let me know what you are thinking.