If at First You Don’t Succeed, Try and Try Again? Negotiating Skeptical Customers and Bridging Cultural Differences as a Sales Rep


Michelle Tamura is a newly-minted sales representative at a U.S. biotechnology company specializing in portable benchtop electronics. Hired to tackle a potential expansion into the academic research market, she is given an opportunity to pursue a client with potential ties to Japan, her home country. Michelle’s new boss trains her to approach academic researchers with confidence and provides her with a number of strategies to connect with new clients. He warns her that academics are difficult to establish contact with and can be reluctant customers. When Michelle visits a university laboratory to promote a new product, she is only able to meet with student researchers who seem too busy to talk to her and avoid any productive interactions. After multiple unsuccessful attempts, Michelle is unable to make in-roads on a potential contract or approach the elusive principal investigator who is the key decision maker in the lab. Finally, she decides to put to use her knowledge of Japanese culture and negotiation strategies she learned in college to tackle the challenge at hand.

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