An American salesman in Paris, was at a cafe in Charles de Gaulle airport, having croissants with butter and jam when a Frenchman, chewing gum, sat down next to him.
The American, politely tried to ignore the Frenchman, who,
nevertheless started up a conversation. The Frenchman snapped his gum
and asked, "You American folks eat the whole bread?"
The American frowned, annoyed with being bothered during his breakfast, but still replied, "Of course."
The Frenchman blew a huge bubble, "We don't! In France monsieur, we
eat only what's on the inside. The crusts, we collect them, we recycle
them, then we transform them into croissants and we sell them to
Americans." The Frenchman now had a huge smile on his face as he blew
another huge bubble.
The American continued to listen in silence as the Frenchman
persisted. "Do you eat jam with your bread in America, monsieur?"
probed the Frenchman.
Sighing, the American replied, "Of course."
Snapping a bubble between his teeth, the Frenchman exclaimed, "We
don't monsieur. In France we eat only fresh fruit for breakfast. Then
we put all the peelings, seeds and leftovers in containers, we recycle
them, transform them into jam and sell it to Americans!"
The American leaned over towards the Frenchman, lowered his voice and
asked, "In France, your men make a lot of love don't they?"
"But of course monsieur!" exclaimed the Frenchmen. "We are known world wide for our romantic ways with the ladies."
The American leaned in a little bit closer to the Frenchman and asked
a little bit more quietly, "And what do you do with your condoms
"Why monsieur, we throw them away of course!" replied the Frenchman.
Now it was the American's turn to smile. "We don't. In America, we
collect them, recycle them, we put them in a large container, melt them
into chewing gum and sell them to France." Looking at the brand of gum
in the Frenchman's pocket, the American added, "Why do you think it's
Moral of the story. True sales professionals know that in order to
succeed in sales overseas, when discussing products, you should never
use the country of origin as a reason for buying. National pride might
become a factor if you do, and you could lose the sale as a result.
Like gum, stuck to the bottom of your shoe, once national pride enters
into a conversation, the result could get real messy. Stick to product
features and benefits and really get your prospects to chew on the real
value of what your company brings to the table. You should have the
sale wrapped up in no time. Last, if you're trying to make a favorable
impression during the sales process, whether overseas or at home, don't
chew gum. Unless of course, you're selling to Wrigley's.
"I was in a bar the other night, hopping from barstool to barstool,
trying to get lucky, but there wasn't any gum under any of
them." - Emo Philips