Advice on what to expect when doing business with Mexico and Mexicans.
1. It is difficult to reach the top executives and business owners. The first contacts are difficult or impossible to make through “cold calling”. A much better strategy is to get personal introductions from consultants or other local business people.
2. Mexico is all about personal networks. They prefer to do business “face to face”. Impersonal methods of communication will be used, but plan on meeting your clients or suppliers as often as possible in order to maintain good relations and communications.
2. Use metric measurements, forget all other systems. Inches, pounds, feet, yards are not part of the Mexican culture. This is especially true for your promotional material and catalogues.
3. Don’t expect business people will return your phone calls. If the business item is important you should call several times.
4. Business negotiations will always be preceded with small talk and light conversation. This may continue for some time before business is finally discussed. Dinners and lunches are important for negotiations and often the items of real importance surface over coffee and dessert.
5. Proper etiquette and manners are very important. You will find the Mexicans are very cordial and polite, and they expect the same treatment from others. This is true for business and social occasions.
6. Secretaries and personal assistants are very important. They control who has access to executives and decision-makers. Many times they are responsible for answering the executive’s email and correspondence. Never underestimate the power of the secretary, and always maintain a friendly cordial relationship with them.
7. Meetings don’t start, or end on time. Don’t come late, but don’t get angry or upset when it doesn’t happen at the appointed hour.
8. The entire country shuts down from December 15 until about January 3 for vacations. Do not expect to find decision-makers in their offices, and expect slowdowns in logistics, paperwork and other communications during this time.
9. Everyone has a cellular phone. Get the cellular phone numbers of your contacts to avoid the filters in place at the office.
10. Mexicans tend to be reserved with foreign business people in the first business encounters. Business in Mexico is based upon trust between people. Take the time to create a relationship and build trust with your clients and suppliers. Don’t be in a hurry to close the deal. Don’t be in a rush to get the business over with. Don’t be afraid to visit several times without a specific work agenda. Get to know the people and culture.
11. Mexicans don’t like to disappoint others, and may prolong and delay bad news until the last possible moment. This can be prevented by establishing many short term objectives and chronologies. Constant open communication will also provide opportunities to discuss and find solutions for any set backs before it becomes a major problem.
12. Always try and deal with the boss or top executives. Business is done, approved and maintained by the top levels in the organization. Make sure the Mexican company understands that you are your company’s top executive with important decision-making powers.