Searching the web to find out some clues about the best way to sell to Italian companies you can find this document originally designed for Irish companies that depict the best way to approach a new Italian prospect.
Some of these hints look to me too stereotypes to be actually true, but I have to say there are a lot of good suggestions that you should consider.
Let me just wrap up seven of them:
1) Italian people are very formal and used to evaluate potential customer by the way they are dress and they talk. You might remember the beginning of the movie Gung Ho when a typically American Michael Keaton tries to win the interest of the Japanese board of a car company. Well, that’s what can happen.
2) Italian people love titles: to avoid any mistakes we tend to call everyone ingegnere which is even more than dottore. Don’t use Christian names until you are permitted to.
3) Consider that many people do not speak or understand English, even if they pretend to, and that usually those who claim to talk English fluently actually can speak itanglish, that means “english the Italian way”. Not just in the use of false friends like eventually used instead of “in the case” or actually for “at present”, but much often in the way the sentence is built.
4) We love to bargain, is our Mediterranean soul. We tend to be sometime even Levantine in our attitude to negotiate, consider that we were used to get discount as high as 70%!
5) Italy is a stretched country and actually it’s built of a huge number of different cultures. People living and working in Milan can act very differently from their “cousins” in Rome or in Palermo.
6) Do not make joke about Italy or our Prime Minister. We are allowed to, you aren’t!
7) Work to build long term relationship, after all we are Latin people and we do trust only those who want to spend time in knowing us.
Next time we will explore further hints.
By the way do you have experience you want to share with us?