Selling and Cultural humility

Cultural humility means subsuming your culture to the pervading and dominant culture of your environment. It’s about aligning yourself to the ways and etiquettes of your environment without compromising your core values, beliefs and principles. For instance, in the southwest part of Nigeria, it is the culture that a younger person should kneel, prostrate or bow the head while greeting an older person. In the south-east of Nigeria, it is not so. In some environments also, a man is not permitted to shake a woman. In some other environments, you are not just permitted to shake; you are allowed to hug and embrace a woman. 

As a salesperson, you must be culturally aware. You should also be culturally humble. Don’t go shaking a woman in the environments where it is a taboo simply because your culture permits it. Don’t be the first to stretch out your hands to shake an older person in Yoruba land, just because your culture allows it. 

Cultural humility is also about making efforts to learn other people’s language, eat their food and dance to their music. Like I mentioned earlier on, this is as long you core values and principles are not compromised. Great salespeople understand the fact that you must win the mind share before attempting to win the market share. And there is no better way of winning the mind share of your selling environment than by being culturally humble. 

If you attend a function, where the rule is that people must eat pounded yam with their fingers, don’t ask for cutleries. If you enter a place and everybody is sitting on the mat, don’t ask for a chair. If the norm in the association that you join is that members call each other by their first names, don’t introduce yourself and insist that others call you by your titles and surname. If the dress code is casual, don’t wear your chieftaincy attire with all the beads and feather. That’s called cultural arrogance.

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