Mr. Halliwell's Business Trip
Assignment: Mr. Halliwell's Whirlwind Business Trip
"Hi, my name's Joe, Joe Halliwell. I'm Super Clean's leading salesman. I've won the salesman of the year award for the last four years and this year I'm going to even top last year's record because I have been promoted to being our international representative. So I'm off on a whirlwind tour of Mexico, Japan, the Middle East and Europe.
Read text"It's 2:30 and I've been sitting in this restaurant for 45 minutes. Mr. Alvarez said he'd meet me at 2:00 and he's already half an hour late. I've got all my brochures spread out just waiting to convince him to sign on for at least 25,000 units to start. Ah, here he comes I think. No, he's going over to a group sitting at another table and shaking hands and kissing women on both cheeks, but then again he's not sitting down. Now he's coming over to my table.
"Yes, Mr. Alvarez?"
"Yes, pleased to meet you. Sorry I'm a little late."
"That's Ok. I used the time to spread out our brochures so that you can get a good idea of our new product.”
"Yes, but maybe we should have a glass of brandy first"
“Well, normally I don't drink in the afternoon, so if I could get a glass of mineral water.”
"Are you sure you wouldn't like to try our brandy? Actually I think it is the best in the world and I've been in a lot of countries."
"No, I'll just stick to mineral water. I have a long trip ahead of me and I want to pace myself."
"Oh, where are you heading for next?"
"Tomorrow? Oh that's a shame. I was hoping that I could show you around our wonderful city. The architecture is magnificent and the churches and museums are some of the finest in the world. Particularly the Pre Columbian museum."
"Well, you know business is business and time is money. So I'd like to get down to business and show you our new product. "
"Oh, just a second. I see a friend has just arrived. I haven't seen him for ages. I'll be right back."
Right back meant 15 minutes.
"Sorry Mr. Halliwell, but I haven't seen Roberto for almost two weeks. Now where were we?"
"I was just going to show you our new combination vacuum cleaner, rug cleaner and air purifier and humidifier."
"Oh yes. Oh, here comes my brandy and your water."
"Muchas gracias," he says to the waiter.
"And here's to your health Mr. Halliwell. Salud."
Mr. Alvarez looked at the brochures, but didn't look particularly interested no matter how much I tried to convince him of the product's innovation, efficiency and reasonable price. So I returned to my hotel a bit depressed, but I knew that the next day I would be flying off to Japan where the market was huge. So the hell with the Mexicans.
I arrived in Japan the next afternoon, relaxed in my hotel, had a nice meal although I had to ask for a knife and a fork. I don't know how these people manage to eat with chop sticks. I arrived at the appointed time for the meeting and this time my customers were on time. I'm only 30 and Mr. Yamamoto must have been twice my age. I guess it takes the Japanese longer to get where they're going. Mr. Yamamoto briefly mentioned that I was quite young for my position, which I took as a compliment. We exchanged business cards. He took mine with two hands and studied it a bit. I took his and put it in my business card folder. No use in looking at it. I knew his name.
I was ushered into his plush office and served tea by a very attractive secretary who bowed almost to the floor.
"Nice looking secretary you have," I mentioned, but he only looked down at the floor and said nothing.
I showed him our product and then asked, "Well, what do you think?" He hesitated a long time saying nothing so I added, "we can make you an introductory offer of 10% off," but he still said nothing so I added, "That's the best offer I've given anyone." He simply said "Yes." He then asked me if I would join him for dinner and drinks. I said that I was feeling kind of tired with the long trip and all that and had planned on going to bed early. He only looked down at the floor again and said nothing.
I couldn't get him to commit to a contract and finally I said that I would call him the next day to discuss a contract. When I called the next day, his secretary simply said that Mr. Yamamoto was suddenly called away on business and wouldn't be back until early the next week. When, I asked whether he had considered my offer, there was silence and finally she said that I would have to contact Mr. Yamamoto.
Saudi Arabia seemed like a great opportunity. With all that dust and sand, they certainly could use our Super Clean. But, the same thing happened again. OK, I turned down his offering of a cup of coffee saying that I only drank decaf and he seemed a bit put off, but I made the best product presentation I had made on the trip. But no deal. Anyway, I was glad to get out of Saudi Arabia and get back to civilization which I did when I landed in Zurich the next day.
Thank God for Europe and civilized business people. In Zurich, Munich, Berlin, Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Stockholm and Oslo, it was basically the same story. I would arrive at the office, we would get down to business, discuss the quality of the product, the guarantee, delivery schedules, prices and then talk contract. The only place I had any trouble was Paris. The guy there took me out to lunch even before I could present the product and we spent two hours at lunch. When I started to get out my brochures, he said, "Let's enjoy lunch. We can always talk about business later." He seemed disappointed when I refused his offer of a "fine Brouilly," which was apparently his favorite wine. After that, his interest seemed to decline. He wanted to show me the Musée D'Orsay after lunch and I went along although my interest in Super Clean far exceeds my interest in French painting. Anyway, with the exception of Switzerland, Germany, Holland and Scandinavia, much of the territory stinks. I'll stick to civilized European countries and dump the rest on my assistant.
- Discuss what mistakes Mr. Halliwell made and how he should have approached customers in Mexico, Japan, Saudi Arabia and France.
- Choose a culture other than those mentioned in Mr. Halliwell’s trip and make a presentation where you present differences compared to Norwegian culture:
- whether they are deal-focused or relationship-focused in their concept of time
- communication (direct vs. indirect)
- the importance of socializing, including protocol (dress, formality vs. informality, respect for age, gift giving, use of titles and first names vs. last names).
Information can be obtained at executiveplanet.com.