Polish-Anglo networking & culture (TWO)

Kasia Lanucha
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The Blog is a 10 minute read. If you are involved in business development on a Polish to Anglo basis you will read about relationship cues that will improve your success in rainmaking. Our attention is to Polish-Anglo networking behaviour and how culture differences affect professional success. Co-written by Cambridge lecturer Katarzyna Lanucha of Speak Culture and business development professional John ‘Bob’ Spence of award winning 5nextsoftware.

Culture & rainmaking

This is the second of 8 articles exploring the ultimate goal of becoming a successful rainmaker within the British business community. Therefore although this article is from the Polish perspective the inverse of this writing supports British business interpret the Polish viewpoint – just as far reaching in terms of Anglo-Polish rainmaking.

If you are a Polish professional or a Polish entrepreneur looking to make initial or further impact within the UK economy then the emphasis in this writing will give you a road map to support you recognise what may be happening in a Polish-Anglo networking or referral marketing situation.

Culture & rainmaking

The back drop to networking for connections was a thorough review of the nine most commonly used sales systems from the ‘business to business’ part of the Western economy. These are the systems:

  • SNAP Selling
  • The Sandler System
  • SPIN Selling
  • IWAN summary system
  • N.E.A.T. Selling
  • Conceptual Selling
  • Customer Centric Selling
  • The Challenger Sale

These are proven disciplines that can be used to create a transaction. The development of introductions was the part of the processes that preceded a sales cycle. Many enterprise level sales professionals are using the above or variations of them in Poland.  (We will examine in a later article the impact of the Polish to Anglo cultural generalisations within these sales systems). We placed these systems into the cross cultural model developed by Geert Hofstede  referred to as the 6 dimensions of national culture. This was to gain a greater appreciation of cross cultural differences.

‘…the single greatest barrier to business success is the one erected by culture’

E. T. Hall

Culture & rainmaking

The first point is that from the cross-cultural perspective these substantive sales models do not engage with potential Polish-Anglo differences. (They were never written to do that). There is the diminishing impact of translating a successful US sales model written in US English directly into the Polish language for that translation to be the basis without the cross cultural cues into a British Polish-Anglo sales meeting. These models like any other require a number of cultural filters applied to make sure that they function successfully. If you can recall that George Bernard Shaw wrote:

‘England and America are two countries separated by the same language!’

Therefore the addition of a third culture and a second language compounds that quote. With this starting point we consider the impact a 2nd party interpretation of a sales process has on cultural cues. Above all it is clear that sophisticated sales models are weakened through literal translations. On that basis we explored the Polish-Anglo referral marketing method in terms of getting in front of a decision maker: Rainmaking!

Culture & rainmaking

This article refers to a bespoke version of RELEVANT ©. A step-by-step system that creates introductions. The system is a variant of a referral marketing system Bob Spence was shown at a MDRT event in San Diego. Originally this was a US to US model, then used by MRDT qualifier Bob successfully as a British to British model, then coached by Bob as a Polish to Polish model and finally developed as a Polish to British model with my input. This has been refined further by Bob after nearly 60 business development trips in and out of central Europe. (It is appropriate to acknowledge the MDRT as the genesis of this theory). In the system, the ‘R’ in relevant means ‘reveal.’

In the broadest terms it technically means reveal that your business development success is based on receiving and generating introductions. However we take it further by using the cultural model of Geert Hofstede to consider a broader understanding of ‘what’ it is appropriate to reveal.

Culture & rainmaking

The Hofstede model is not the only tool developed for country comparisons. Above all it is not understood as perfect. It functions as a springboard for our considerations. What business introductions reveal to each other in an initial ‘connection conversation’ may perform very differently across cultures. This is based on both the Hofstede scores and repeated observations made by Polish and British business development professionals we interviewed. This example is a comparison of three different situations in terms of what might happen in a 30 minute initial networking conversation generated by an introduction taking place in Warsaw. 

A Polish Warsaw resident is most likely to introduce what they want relatively early in the conversation:

            “What I want is this: …”

A North American is likely to introduce an offer to help relativity early into this conversation:

            “So…how could I help you”?

A British Warsaw resident may give no impression of what they want or what they can offer:

            … (Perhaps still making ‘small talk’)

In these examples none of these responses are right or wrong. They are exceptionally generic. 30 minutes into a relationship and there is a different valuation across the 3 cultures in terms of what can be revealed commercially in the context of this conversation. The cues that are being interpreted have different values.

It might be fair to understand the first 30 minutes of conversation with a British business as interacting with a Russian Doll. Each doll represents another potential relationship cue.

Culture & rainmaking

In this paragraph we look at those first 30 minutes and the cues that you need to be attuned too. Firstly from the Polish-Anglo perspective consider the quality of your small talk as this is actually the big talk. Secondly use questions to discern what your British introduction has commercial interest in.

‘Spend more time on this rather than talk about what you do

If you wish to make this relationship a connection then it has to be in the area that they hold interest in rather than the area you hold interest in.

‘Are there any cues that you can identify that are more than just general pleasantries’?

Thirdly are they asking questions of you? Generally, people only ask quality questions about something that they are truly interested in.

‘Any conversation on a technical level can flag that there is potential engagement’.

This is a major cue and if the conversation reaches this point then you have possibly created a rainmaking situation. So the fourth point is that any conversation where there is evidence of common ground could be an indication that you have started the sales process although at an entry level. However, in terms of timing and cues at this point you have to allow the British party to reflect.

Consider this; there is no point in biting on any of these positive responses immediately.

In other words rainmaking is not like the movie Jaws. (If you throw enough blood into the water then eventually the shark will show its face). It is much more subtle across cultures especially in a first introduction.

Culture & rainmaking

RELEVANT © comprises the following steps. This should be seen as the general shape of seeking an introduction not a mandatory chain of actions. The eight parts are listed below:

  • Reveal how you built your connections to your referee (the introduction source)
  • Emphasise the value you can deliver to any introductions that are made to you
  • Look for listeners and observers to meet… not just for leads to do business with – you are building an expansive network, not a narrow sales funnel
  • Expertise is the key to getting an introduction as this is the easiest ‘currency’ to trade in
  • Validate the process and your plan of action in your mind before making the ‘ask’ for an introduction
  • Action comes from validation and is not a passive process
  • Next moves after receiving an introduction will be the deciding factor as to whether you will get another one
  • Training is the key to generating this ability: It is an ability that can be practiced and manufactured

‘Where business cross-cultural engagement is concerned, token adjustments are not an option’

In our next Blog we look for the cue where it is appropriate to talk about the value that you offer to another party.

Kasia Lanucha
Kasia Lanucha
Educated at Technische Universität Dresden. Holding a Certificate in Business Culture Training. Holding a Masters in German & qualifications in French & Polish. Kasia lectures at Cambridge & has an award-winning delivery with technical expertise in the key cross-cultural areas. She says: “Strength lies in differences not where we are similar”
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