The Asian / Indian community has a reputation for being unreasonable price hagglers. Most service technicians will tell you that they can not win if they are sent to an Asian household.
Is this true? Is it impossible to win with Asians, or is there another issue at hand that needs to be addressed?
I asked my friend Milan Kumar to share with us his thoughts on the culture differences between Asians and Non-Asians. Milan is a proud Indian American. He also is the owner of Advantage Air in Longreach California. Before he was an owner, Milan was in the field selling HVAC systems.
“Indian people come from a bartering background. Since early in time, many of the trade routes in Asia and the middles east went through India. Because of our history in trade and bartering, negotiating is almost a cultural thing for us.” – Milan Kumar
From Milan’s perspective, it is part of the Asian culture to negotiate on price. Negotiate is part of the process. They don’t consider it offensive, or rude. Most Asians will tell you that if you don’t engage in the negotiation process then you are perceived as a “light weight.” However, they wouldn’t consider their negotiation skills as “price haggling.”
Asia is a massive continent. So is India. So, please understand that there is no way outside of a lifetime of work to define the uniqueness of each culture. Even inside of a culture, there is a wide range of personalities, and a wide range of nationalities.
Asians make up 4.7% (11.2 million people) of the US population. The Bureau of Labor Statistics classifies the population in the following manner:
So, from this point forward, “Asians will refer to all above.”
4 Things to know about Asians in the US workforce compared to Non-Asians
This tells us something very specific about the Asian mindset in the US. They are highly technically minded.
The study of personality types, and job occupation is big in sales. Understanding the personality types will help you win with all people, not just Asians.
Research suggests that the personality type that is geared towards management, engineers mathematics, science, and health care is that of a High Cautious personality combined with a High Driver personality.
These two combinations make for very tough negotiators. Full disclosure, I happened to be one of these strange birds.
In America, you will find that only about 15% of the Non-Asians fall into this tough category. However, it can be deduced that 50% of the Asian America population falls into that category. See the problem?
I think this is a by-product of the Asians that have moved to America, not Asians as a whole.
The US offers amazing opportunities for the scientific mind, and many Asians moved here for that reason.
Knowing this, you are ready to win with Asians in America.
“Most Indians have a background in engineering, math, or the sciences, so intellectually they are no slouches.
I’d advise an advisor to approach an Indian client more technically than clients from other backgrounds because chances are the Asian / Indian may already know as much about the product you are selling as you do (especially if it’s related to something mechanical or electrical).” – Milan Kumar
“Indians will NOT buy without immensely researching both the technical aspects of a purchase as well as the pricing aspects. You will not “sell” the average Asian / Indian on your first visit out unless he/she has a solid idea of price point (as a result of meeting with other sales advisors) and also as a result of doing plenty of research.” – Milan Kumar
Before you read Milan’s next segment, let me say that you should never lose money on a job. For some of you, this may be where you decide that the client isn’t the right one for you.
“After mesmerizing the client with your product knowledge, it’s a must you come with a competitive price because if you’re trying to get a 50% gross profit margin off an Asian / Indian, you’ll likely be kicked out of the house as soon as you present the price (in an indirect manner though).
You have to be aggressive on the pricing, but still allow yourself some room to work once the negotiations start. If you are not willing to negotiate, chances are you can kiss the sale goodbye (unless of course you come in lower than the rest).
Advanced product IQ will gain you a few extra dollars over someone who’s knowledge was lacking, but not much more. If the price isn’t where he/she wants it to be, they won’t hesitate to take the info you’ve given them and start shopping for the best price for what YOU designed or put together for them.” – Milan Kumar
“Everything I dislike in a person who I am selling to is who I am when I am buying. LOL. It’s very difficult doing business with Asian / Indians. Cut the small talk and rapport building. That just annoys us. We’re strictly focused on the product specs and the bottom line.
This is not a total generalization of course, but it’s the way I buy and the way most of my Asian / Indian family and fiends buy. There’s always exceptions and nothing is totally one way, but culture is culture and most of the time the above info will be spot on.” – Milan Kumar
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