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The Role of Listening in the Intercultural Sales Encounter Tanya Drollinger Ph.D University of Lethbridge Alberta Canada.

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Presentation on theme: "The Role of Listening in the Intercultural Sales Encounter Tanya Drollinger Ph.D University of Lethbridge Alberta Canada."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Role of Listening in the Intercultural Sales Encounter Tanya Drollinger Ph.D University of Lethbridge Alberta Canada

2 Intercultural Communication Overview (ICC)  Intercultural communication: is communication between people from different national cultures (Gudykunst, 2002)  There can be a lot uncertainty and anxiety in ICC.  It can be reduced by having a more positive attitude about the exchange as well as being knowledgeable about the culture and then being able to practice or carry out communication skills.  Bush, Rose Gilbert and Ingram JAMS 2001: Intercultural disposition is key to better selling  The desire to understand and be open to other cultures enhances ICC

3 Background  Understanding basic mores and norms of a culture help salespeople avoid making mistakes and can help guide them in building relationships.  A universal skill among salespeople that can help them to be effective intercultural communicators and ultimately relationship builders is being a good listener in every stage of the personal selling process.  Research supports the notion that listening plays a critical role in effective communication and developing and maintaining trusting, satisfying long term buyer/seller relationships (Aggarwal et al. 2005; Comer and Drollinger 1999; Drollinger and Comer 2012, Pryor, Malshe and Paradise 2013, Ramsey and Sohi 1997).

4 Incorporating Empathy with Active Listening Active Listening  Primarily behavioral  Verbal behaviors that are expressions of listening such as asking relevant questions, and replying to show acknowledgement  Non verbal behaviors such as head nods, eye contact that demonstrate listening Empathy  The ability to put your self in another's position and to see the interaction from their point of view.  Being sensitive to feelings, mood, tone and not just the literal message.

5 Active Empathetic Listening (AEL) AEL incorporates active listening and includes an empathetic overlay that helps measure the salespersons ability to better understand the internal frame of the customer, and relay the message that the salesperson is indeed concerned for the well being of the customer.

6 The Three components of AEL  (AEL) as a three-stage activity: sensing, processing, and responding.  These stages are certainly not considered to be exactly sequential or to operate in any specific parallel format but are illustrative. Empathy should be operational in all three stages.  During the sensing stage, a listener indicates that he or she is taking in all of the explicit and implicit information which is accomplished through being actively involved while the other is speaking and by paying close attention not only to what is said but also how it is said.  Next, the processing stage includes synthesizing conversational information and remembering conversational fragments to enable the construction of a narrative whole.  Finally, responding includes asking questions for clarification and using verbal and nonverbal means to indicate attention.

7 Listening as a Conduit to Express Empathy  Trait Empathy may go completely undetected as it resides within the individual.  Empathy needs to be expressed and empathetic listening is a means of expression. Salespersons using AEL should be better able to receive and process information from the customer and then respond in such a way that the customer is assured that understanding on several levels is occurring.

8 Items in AEL Scale  Sensing  I am sensitive to what my customers are not saying.  I am aware of what my customers imply but do not say.  I sense how my customer feels.  I listen for more than just the spoken words.  Processing  I assure my customers that I will remember what they say by taking notes when appropriate.  I keep track of points my customers make.  I summarize points of agreement and disagreement when appropriate  Responding  I assure my customers that I am receptive to their ideas.  I ask questions that show my understanding of my customers’ positions.  I show my customers that I am listening by my body language (e.g., head nods).  I assure my customers that I am listening by using verbal acknowledgements.

9 How has the scale been used and where since publication  Leadership, Medical, Tourism, Human Resource Management, Counseling, Retail Employee Customer Interaction and Interpersonal Communication Research  It has been used in research conducted in Germany, India, Australia, Iran, Turkey, Netherlands, China and widely used in the U.S.

10 Intercultural Communication Research Arasratnam and Doerfel (2005) Identifying Key Components of Intercultural Communication Competence  Good Intercultural communicators are good communicators overall.  Good Intercultural communicators should have at least a basic understanding of others cultures and their norms.  Good intercultural communication requires that the communicator should be adaptable to unfamiliar situations.

11 Intercultural Communication Arasratnam and Doerfel 2005 Findings Good Communicators  Were empathetic (kind, sensitive, desire to learn about others).  Were good listeners (try to identify, try to understand) Poor Communicators  Were poor listeners. Poor listening was seen as a lack of respect.  Were unwilling to try.

12 Propositions  RQ1. What components of listening do buyers use to describe effective intercultural communication in sales meetings?  RQ2: What components of listening do sellers use to describe effective intercultural communication in sales meetings?  RQ3: What behaviors detract from effective intercultural selling from the buyers perspective?

13 Proposed Methods  A qualitative methodology will be used in order to better understand the role that listening plays in an intercultural communication setting.  It is proposed that depth interviews be used on a sample of buyers and sellers who have experience in international sales in order to gather data pertaining to the research questions at hand.  Network analysis techniques could be applied to text-based data as a way of representing the dominant symbols and emergent themes of the data. (Monge and Esisenberg, 1987, Arasratnam and Doerfel, 2005)  This will be exploratory in nature

14 Proposed Questions for depth Interviews  Q1. How would you define intercultural listening?  Q2. Can you identify some qualities or aspects of people who are competent in intercultural listening?  Q3. Can you identify some specific individuals whom you think are particularly competent in intercultural listening and say why you perceive them as such?  Q4. What are aspects of good listening in your culture?  Q5. What are aspects of bad listening in your culture?

15 Next Steps  Publish results of intercultural listening research  Determine if changes need to be made to the scale.  Develop modified scale and test validity  Test on international sales people along with other relevant scales such as Intercultural Competence and Egocentrism Scales.

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