Style may change but motivations stay the same!

Style may change but motivations stay the same!

If you do business with people you need to understand the above image of Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs! (we’ll look at attachment theory in the next article!) But you need to understand what your client needs to get done.  What level of need do they need to fulfill.  It will heavily taint your approach…or at least it should!

When we consider for example why most men buy a lawn mower, it’s not because they spend all night wondering whether the grass blades are too long.  It’s because they have multiple pressures coming at them from all kinds of angles.

  • Social pressure: the neighbours will judge you on your lawn’s quality
  • Municipal Laws: You will often get a fine if your lawn is left to grow.
  • Desire for a look.
  • Desire to be accepted
  • Desire to feel good because you’re doing what is expected of you.

None of those reasons actually have anything to do with the action of cutting the grass: it is all about the results of cut grass.  So You don’t buy the lawn mower for its capacity to cut grass but you do so to fulfill different levels of needs above.

Now needs are always the same.  But how you fulfill those needs are cultural.  So if you want clients from different cultural backgrounds you have to understand why they have the needs.  While these differences may look superficial, they are often deeply ingrained.

Take the simple act of buying something at the store.  Here we are used to prices being fixed and being non-negotiable.  We establish a price based on cost and margin.  While other cultures value the nature of the relationship with whom they are doing business first and not the relationship with the company.  Some cultures are more willing to make concessions to support the long-term nature of the relations.  North American approaches may well be more of a “take-it-or-leave-it-attitude.”  More about the transaction than the overall.

So we see how different needs are being fulfilled by the simple act of negotiating.  Take this with you when you begin talking with clients and ask yourself what it is that they need and you will have a greater respect for your clients and they will feel understood.

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