This is a “re-birth” of this information from the early days of this Blog. We are still seeing large numbers of Japanese visitors in the United States, and I continuue to see American salespeople feeling handicapped because they cannot speak Japanese. It’s a fact that you don’t need to speak Japanese to sell to the Japanese!
English Taught in Japan
Japanese students today must take 6 years of English to graduate from High School.
Anyone under 40 (approx.) has had major exposure to English.
The older the person, the less practiced the English is.
Many Japanese hide their English abilities for 2 big reasons:
1. They are not comfortable with their pronunciation, and do not want to embarrass themselves.
2. They can understand you, but you can’t understand them. Nice buying edge.
Your goal with this program is to get your Japanese customers to admit to their understanding of English, at least a little bit, (sukoshi). You can achieve this by demonstrating your interest in their language, and your willingness to mispronounce it.
To help you, I offer what I call Hauole Phonetics, in parenthesis.
It all starts with the GREETING…The first impression in Japan, for customers is a greeting at the door with “IRRASSHAIMASE”, (ear-ah-shy-maw-say), meaning, “Welcome to our store”. This is good to know, however (unless you are Japanese), your initial greeting should be in English. You do not want to sound patronizing.
In Hawaii say, “Aloha”, they will have fun returning the greeting, and you have already begun to establish communication.
You can now (if you want to) add to “Aloha” with a follow up comment, in Japanese, as clumsy as you might say it.
OPTIONAL GREETING ADDITIONS:
Welcome IRRASSHAIMASE (pronounced> ear-ah-shy-mah-say)
Good Morning OHA YO GOZAIMASU (pronounced> ohio-go-zye-moss)
Good Afternoon KONNICHIWA (pronounced> cone-eech-chi-wah)
Good Evening KONBANWA (pronounced> cone-bon-wah)
Your first 2 Japanese phrases to learn are:
1.) “Do you understand English?” - EIGO GA WAKARIMASU KA? (pronounced> Egg-oh-gah-wa-car-eee- moss-ka)
Nine times out of ten your customer will reply, “Sukoshi” (a little bit). Then you say:
2.) “I don’t understand Japanese.” - NIHONGO GA WAKARIMASEN (pronounced> knee-hone-go-gah-wah- car-eee-moss-sen )
More times than not, your customer will laugh, and communication has begun.
Using these two phrases will begin communication and establish which language will be used. Copy them; carry them with you and practice them until you have it down. Any other Japanese phrases you can learn will serve to add to this experience and your communication, but none are necessary beyond this point with most customers.
In future posts I will add more information on selling to the Japenese.