Selling to Hispanic Consumers

Companies are discovering that traditional sales methods such as cold calling or coupon clipping are less effective with Hispanic consumers than with the general public.  Language preferences, cultural differences, and time-living in the US are all contributing factors.  What then should companies do to win over the fastest growing segment of our population? 

Sales managers and consultants commonly use the phrases ‘initiating contact’, ‘staying visible’, ‘time management’, and ‘setting daily goals’ to motivate and train their respective sales teams.  What they often omit, however, are terms for understanding a buyer such as needs analysis, cultural sensitivity, language preference and listening – each of which represent an obligatory sales approach to lure Hispanic consumers.

To successfully sell to Hispanic consumers, companies should spend time with their Hispanic customers to better understand their personal key buying habits and criteria.  Answers to questions such as why they chose ‘to buy’ or ‘not buy’ under certain selling circumstances will help unveil their behavioral preferences.  Also, new terms specific to Hispanic consumers such as ‘selling etiquette’, ‘acceptable greeting styles’ and ‘closing protocols’ will become a critical part of every sales person’s vocabulary.

To reach Hispanic buyers, some companies hire Spanish-speaking employees with ten or more years of experience. They believe that a Spanish-speaking sales force will have a better chance of closing sales among Hispanics than an English dominant one.  They may be right to an extent but may not realize that the relationship between a Hispanic buyer and a Hispanic seller has less to do with the Spanish language and more to do with their cultural differences.  With over 30 Hispanic cultures to choose from, forming an effective sales team could become a daunting task.  In theory, yes, however, in reality, not necessarily.

Companies looking to enhance their sales efforts to Hispanic consumers should shift their emphasis from acquiring an experienced Spanish-speaking sales force to researching buyer needs, preferences, and protocols within a specific geographic area.  They should ultimately focus on building a sales force that matches the dominating cultural presence within a target area.  For example, if an area is occupied by Peruvians then hire a predominantly Peruvian sales team.

So, how can one go about identifying a dominating Hispanic ethnicity?  One way would be to use primary market research data to ‘photograph’ a target area.  The response data should quickly spotlight the dominant Hispanic cultures and help identify qualified candidates that inherently understand key culturally-sensitive nuances.  Done right, the cultural composition of an ideal sales team should become self-evident.

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