Global Sales Training Series: How to Succeed at Localization

San Diego Sales Training Workshops

Sales training events are always considerable undertakings. When they involve a multinational corporation, however, the process becomes even more arduous. In this three-part series on global sales training, we’ll examine key things to consider in the design, implementation, and execution of a global sales training product. We start by focusing on a narrow, but vital topic: localization.

Why Localization Matters

There are inherent risks when you don’t consider some level of localization for the sales training experience to the individual country or region. First, there’s a high chance of miscommunication and reduced training effectiveness. And given how complex and resource-intensive such a large-scale project global sales training is, it’s one where you can’t afford to cut corners or assume a one-size-fits-all approach will always be equally effective. How a sales team in New York interacts with and responds to sales training is likely going to be different from that of a sales team in Uruguay, and both those will be different from one in China.

These are three key points to keep in mind when localizing content:

Determine what level of translation is needed.
The most obvious localization question involves that of translation. While business and American cultural English have both achieved international language status, a given sales team might not be proficient enough to fully grasp everything if the training is presented in English. And even in cases where an audience does have sufficient fluency, translation of reinforcement materials in the native language might be necessary to maximize retention of taught skills. Role-play exercises might also call for either a bilingual trainer or an onsite translator.

Whether it’s oral presentation, written materials, live classroom exercises, or some combination calling for translation, it’s critical that you consider this as part of the strategy. Training success hinges on accurate translations that are also aware of and pay attention to the subtle nuances, syntax, tone, and construction of local languages. That means your translator needs to be fully fluent in the language you’re shifting to.

Consider the culture when designing interactive elements.
Cultural differences are a major part of localizing sales training curriculum. As an example, in the United States, some customers are of a communication style that appreciates and enjoys humor, even in a business discussion. Other countries may generally appreciate a more serious tone during a sales negotiation, and such nuances should be considered during role-play activities and similar training exercises.

This can even drill down to the basic level of physical interaction. Americans tend to maintain distance between themselves, whereas in some other cultures, close physical proximity is the norm.

These are just a couple of examples of cultural aspects to consider when looking at how your curriculum should be designed and adapted for different countries – even for different divisions of the same company.

Conduct research of buyer behavior in each individual country.
We all know by now that today’s sales process is about the customer, rather than the product. That means sales training needs to be about the buyer as well. And buyers operate and think differently from country to country, region to region – in addition to the usual differences that vary in verticals.

So if you want your sales training curriculum to speak to buyers in multiple countries – as is the case in a global sales training event – you’ll need to consider adjusting your curriculum to allow training participants to connect with the buyers in their local markets. And to do that, you need to know how customers behave in each respective country.

All three of these localization points need to also sync up with a universal, commonly understood sales language, culture, and process across the entire organization – which we’ll discuss in other posts in this series. But following these guidelines will put you on the right path to make sure you’re maximizing your global sales training initiative by respecting the local business and cultural environment of each country your company does business in.