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    Welcome to Authentic Journeys - ഓതെന്റിക് ജെർനീയ്സ് - US-India Cross-Cultural Training

June 16, 2020

Convincing & Negotiating Tips with US Counterparts

How can we convince our US clients about project deliverables and change requests?


This is a very common question asked by many teams we have coached in India

If Americans love to save two things, those are time and money. To negotiate and to convince an American is to appeal to their love of saving time, saving money or both!  

Also, the more you know about their business, their end user (customer), and some of the other cultural context, these factors can be used in conjunction with time and financial arguments to not only create a compelling case, but will show your business acumen. 


... Which will build your confidence and trust in your US based clients....

Don't forget to add in tidbits about your technical knowledge as well. Why a certain request can or can't be done. Tie this to your experience on other similar projects and the pros and cons of implementing it or not implementing it.

This is why it's so important for client facing developers to have good soft skills, communication skills and relationship building skills.


... These skills can also be inserted into daily status updates to take your stand up meetings to the next level....

Of course this is not always an easy proposition. While one knows their work well and how to discuss particulars of their work related tasks, many may fail to truly understand how to measure their output through time or financial calculations. This is a skill, and it takes time to master. It is also a way to show initiative to your US counterparts.  
Use arguments about cost savings to negotiate project deliverables
After reviewing this in the sessions, many Indian executives ask, "Well, if this is common in your American culture, that means to you this comes easy. This is not as common in our Indian culture, so we have to practice. It's not easy." 

My answer to this typically is, "That while Americans may grow up hearing this more than Indians might, it is still a learned skill for Americans to master. A lot goes into understanding these calculations, and they do not always easily roll off of one's tongue without many years experience to back them up. What this means is that, yes, even Americans must prepare and practice these skills to perfect them. It depends on the topic of discussion, and the fact and figures always change. So, one must prepare for such meetings well in advance, studying and comparing figures to find the most convincing approach to use." 

Not only does it take a skill in understanding how and where to use these figures, but it takes a skill in small talk and getting to know one's client or customer. The better we know someone (personally or professionally), the easier it is to find the right approach to convince them. Small talk goes along way.  

To justify this argument, just think of those you work with in your office, those you work closely with in your local team (even if you are now working from home in a distributed way)... do you find it easier or more difficult to handle challenging conversations with those you know better locally? Why is that? What do you know about them that you may or may not know about your US counterpart? How can you try to fill in those gaps? 

Interestingly enough, some Indian executives may also consider the tips in this article a form of small talk because it's not directly talking about the task at hand. Rather than talking about getting it done, and sticking to the nuts and bolts of the topic, convincing and negotiating by using figures may not be considered to be directly talking about the matter at hand. Unlike "normal" small talk which has nothing to do with work, this kind of small talk does have to do with work, and it takes time to prepare for.  


How coaching helped my team to communicate more effectively with US Americans

Dr. John Sullivan in the article, Talking Strategically: The 7 Things You Must Master to Succeed, shares this and six other tips in how to convince and negotiate effectively: 
  • Dollars to show impact 
  • Corporate goals focused 
  • Knowing with data 
  • Building a competitive advantage 
  • Being forward-looking 
  • Being customer focused 
  • Emphasizing innovation 
(Tips reprinted from the article.) 

.... Over the last 10 years of doing cross-cultural training in India and coaching US facing teams on this, we have learned.....


All of these tips tie in with all of the suggestions sprinkled throughout this article. And, over the years, what we have noticed in working with teams in India is that these skills do not fall exclusively under "cross-cultural skills anymore." These skills actually fall under consultative skills and leadership skills, which applies to any industry, even domestically where consulting and project management takes place. Where the true cultural skill may come in when working with US clients is in understanding how to build relationships across cultures, understanding the cultural context of the business one is consulting for, and how to use English effectively with US Americans (among others). We have helped many like you to refine your skills through coaching. Get in touch with us for more information


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Networked blogs link: http://networkedblogs.com/SV3MB
Original post date: 1/14, updated: 6/2020

Authentic Journeys: Bridging Culture on Virtual Teams

We help build effective, culturally competent global teams with focus on the cultures of the USA and India. Jennifer Kumar, Managing Director, an American citizen, has almost 10 years experience living, studying and working (owning a business) in India. Authentic Journeys Consultancy is registered as a Private Limited in India (Kerala) and an LLC in the USA (Salt Lake City, Utah). We provide onsite and live-online instructor-led courses, facilitation and corporate coaching.