So You Want to Sell to the Latin American Market 

Selling to the Latino market

Here are 2 concepts to think about and 5 tips to be more successfully sell to the Latino market.

 

As a business person who has been selling and teaching selling into Latin American markets for the past 22 years, I often get asked the question, “How can we be more successful selling to Latin Americans?”

First

The first thing I want to clarify is that according to a World Population Review, Latin America is comprised of 33 countries and dependencies that are made up of over 626 million people who, besides speaking Spanish, also speak French, Portuguese, Creole or variants of these languages.

Even as a native Spanish speaker I can tell you I have learned to be careful not to use certain words, as the meaning of those words are offensive in certain markets. So just as a habit I have removed them from my vocabulary, so as not to offend anyone.

Plus, you learn that certain markets have their own slang or native words that are outside of the actual formal language. However, being able to communicate to Latinos in their native language is a big advantage when trying to sell to them.

As a result, I manage conversational Brazilian Portuguese, and have even delivered presentations in Brazil and having the language was a significant advantage.

Second

The second item I want to point out is that to sell to this group of people there are 626 million people, so as you can image there is no one single way to sell to them all.

Much like here in the United States, with 325 million Americans, we are all quite different as we are a country full of people from a variety of cultures and origins. As an example, my friends in Latin America are mostly one or two generations away from places like Spain, Japan, China, Canada, the USA, Italy, Germany, or are indigenous to the region just to name a few.

So, for me to say there is just one method to successfully sell to a Hispano or Latin American would not be doing you any favors, however there are some general items I would recommend.

Based on research we have done in the region, here are some of the tips we have learned about the culture in the region and how these items might help you be more successful with individuals from or in the region: 

1.  90% are Christians, with 69% of them identifying themselves as Catholics.

The region was in large part expanded by Spanish missionaries for the Catholic church.

As a result, this is the dominant religion and understanding some of the values around this church could be very helpful. Besides Family and Trust (which I will cover in points 2 and 3) respect for their beliefs, and in some places almost a superstition with god is something I have run into many times.

When I have asked for the sale, or tried to motivate business people and their sales leaders, they will often with respond with a, “God willing” or “Si dios quiere”, indicating that is in his hands. Even as a Catholic, when I remind them that God is willing, but it is up them to decide to buy or create success, they will often just smile.

To us Americans, we may not understand that type of patience, to perhaps count on a conversation with god before making a decision or leaving it in his hands to make things happen, but it is real, and in presentations I have told stories from the bible as examples as to how they might make decisions or be more successful with their business.

Using religion, even there, can be dangerous as well, so I am not suggesting you should use it as a practice to be more successful in selling to Latin Americans. I remember when I started working in the region I was told there were three things I should not talk about: Politics, Religion, and Soccer (Futbol).

As a Latino I do talk about Futbol for sure, but generally stay away from the other two, unless I can present a positive religious example.

2.  Family

The conversation about understanding the importance of family is not something that was hard for me to understand, as it is still something that is of great importance in our Latino home, something I learned from my parents.

In Latin countries there is a much greater sense of responsibility to all generations of your family, and it will often come above everything else. This is why if you are selling to Latino consumers (on bigger decisions) don’t be surprised if an individual will not make a decision before getting the opinion of a parent, child, uncle, godparent, or even cousin.

You must respect it and perhaps include this other person in the decision process. Before my parents purchased their last home, my father called me to get my approval before he signed an offer.

Understand I was only 26 and had never purchased a home before. Will it always be this way with all Latinos? Not at all, but it is definitely something to think about.

Next page- Tips 3 through 5

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About the author

Jaime "“Jim”" Hernandez

Jaime “Jim” Hernandez, is president of Strategic Business Communications, Inc. which ranked #4122 in INC magazine’s Fastest Growing Companies in America. He contributes a column about marketing for Latin Business Today. A motivational speaker, marketing consultant and trainer, Jim has worked with more than 30 businesses in the U.S. and abroad. He is a member of the National Advisory Board of MYM, and has been a guest lecturer on sales and marketing at the University of San Diego.

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