Lessons in international business – negotiations

17 10 2006

Observations on how to create trust, effective meetings and excellent negotiations with overseas customers, suppliers and partners.

  • Whenever you are involved in international negotiations or global meetings keep in mind that you might be working with the same person for the next 10 – 20 years.
  • Negotiations should be open and straightforward.  Hidden agendas will eventually be discovered and make the next meeting very difficult.
  • Negotiations should involve creating value for both parties.
  • Meetings are important moments where trust is being built and confirmed.  Be honest and clear about your desires.
  • Never agree to something you cannot deliver or perform.
  • Listen, understand and evaluate what your partner is requesting.   What are they saying, and what does it mean.
  • Be certain of what you are negotiating and agreeing to.  If not 100% sure, stop and request clarification.
  • Prepare for the meeting several weeks before it happens.  Refresh and add information weekly.  When you reach the meeting, you will be in control of the information and feel comfortable during the talks.
  • At the end of the meeting, write down the most important points or agreements, with names and dates, and have it signed by those present.  This little tip will save lots of time and trouble for everyone involved.
  • Any agreement must have 100% follow-through.  If for any reason problems arise in the follow-through, immediately contact and communicate the situation to your partner.

Related Links

How to negotiate with Mexican business people

Great international business trip results





Great International Business Trip Results

16 10 2006

In any international relationship communication and understanding are critical for success.

Problems created by; language, stereotypes, misinformation, lack of information, and cultural misunderstandings combine with normal business problems to create a complicated scenario for anyone involved in international relationships and global business.

Prepare your international meetings and business presentations using the following questions as a guide to organize your ideas and focus on actions that will produce positive results for everyone involved.

6 Questions – Create Great International Business Trip Results

  1. What does this organization know about me, my company and my country?
  2. What do they think they know about me?
  3. What can I tell them that they do not know?
  4. What do I know about my international partner, culture and country?
  5. What do I think I know about this business, culture and country?
  6. What can they tell me that I do not know?

1. What does this organization know about me and my company. When you walk in the room an opinion has already been formed about you, your organization, and your ability to perform in the future. These ideas are based upon facts, information and past experience.

  • What has been the history of our relationship in their country?
  • Who has been involved in our mutual business, and why?
  • What promises have been made and kept by both?
  • What promises have been made and not delivered upon?
  • What have the major problems and success been in the past?
  • Press and media, our organizations promotional material.

2. What do they think they know about me. Clarifying the unknowns or presumed realities in a relationship is crucial to success. These ideas may be very damaging and limit your ability to trust one another. What stereotypical behaviour can you avoid or prevent? What can you clarify or refute through information or actions?

  • Behaviour and reacts based upon past experience with your organization.
  • Rumour and innuendo, press and media reports.
  • Negotiation styles.
  • Business objectives.
  • Behaviour, goals and methods of doing business based upon country and cultural stereotypes.

3. What can I tell them that they do not know. Today’s business world requires trust, information and solutions. Reinforcing your need to work with your international partner, providing important information or solutions, and clarifying misunderstandings can only help the relationship.

  • Clarify or destroy cultural stereotypes.
  • Clarify business objectives and why they are important in order to reach these objectives.
  • Provide solutions and alternatives to existing situations and challenges.
  • Provide information of value for their business and strategy.
  • Clearly identify current or potential business problems.
  • Predict and have answers ready for their questions.

4. What do I know about my International partner, culture and country? What do I know is true and not innuendo or interpretation? The numbers, facts, information, agreements and past performance history of the business. Information about the country and the business culture.

5. What do I think I know about this business, culture and country? What preconceived ideas and stereotypes are you working with? What are you assuming and what has been proven?

6. What can they tell me that I do not know? What questions do you need to ask in order to verify information or create plans. What pieces of your information puzzle are missing? This is the time to get your questions answered, what are they?

Related Links

Cultural misunderstanding it can happen to you

Stereotypes and global business

Create great international business relationships

16 Essential questions – the international business traveller’s quiz

Lessons in international business





Stereotypes and global business

8 09 2006

A stereotype is defined as an unvarying form or pattern, specifically a fixed or conventional notion or conception of a person, group, idea, etc., held by a number of people and allows for no individuality or critical judgement. (Webster’s New World Dictionary, 1998)

Stereotypes are representative of a society’s collective knowledge of customs, myths, religion, ideas and sciences (McCrea,Stangor and Hewstone)

Working with global clients and international cultures provides the opportunity to breakdown and destroy existing stereotypes. Global business encourages and forces a confrontation of cultures and preconceived ideas.

Successful international trade and business is all about marketing. Marketing your product, yourself, the organization, your country and customs. Changing fixed and conventional notions and beliefs.

Interactions with other countries and cultures will be successful when we create an atmosphere of trust, build enthusiasm and excitement, and project an image of the organization or product that appeals to, and will be embraced by the client.

In essence, we are breaking the old stereotypes and helping to create new ones.

Related Link

International business traveller – ambassador, explorer, map-maker

7 tips for doing business internationally





Advice on what to expect when doing business with Mexico

4 09 2006

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.

Related Links

How to negotiate with Mexican business people

Meeting people in Mexico -kiss, shake hands or hug

Before you go on your business trip to Mexico

Tip: How to call Mexico from the US

How to do business in Mexico, parts 1 – 28





The right breakfast can boost your brainpower

1 09 2006

Got an all day meeting with the boss, attending a seminar or conference, have important negotiations with clients or suppliers, cranking out a mountain of work today? If you haven’t had the right food for breakfast, you results may be up to 20% below your capabilities.

A study by Duke University on children revealed evidence that what you eat in the morning has a definite effect on your ability to learn and concentrate. Link

This is especially relevant for the business traveller. Too often breakfast is a cup of coffee and a donut. Add up the factors of jet lag, a poor night’s sleep, change in personal routine, late night wining and dining clients, stress, and a lousy breakfast and you can quickly see how your professional results might not be at 100%.

Eat that brain boosting breakfast, protein and whole grains; including oatmeal, whole grain bread, toast or cereal, dried fruits or an egg white omelet. Turn your back on sugary and refined starches. Do yourself a favor, eat the right breakfast and let your brain work at 100% for the rest of the day.

Related Links

A better breakfast can boost a child’s brainpower

11 steps to a better brain





How to negotiate with Mexican business people

25 08 2006

Mexico has a culture that embraces and enjoys negotiations. From the schoolyard to the local markets to the executive boardrooms, negotiations are an important part of everyday life for Mexican citizens.

Mexican business people are good negotiators and enjoy the process.

You can expect tough negotiations if you are doing business in Mexico. Tough negotiations in the sense that they will question everything, and spend a great deal of time trying to get you to accept their point of view or conditions. The arguments may be based on emotions or facts, or both.

You should always come into the negotiation very well prepared. Know what you want, and have the evidence to support your claim. Your arguments, supported by facts, will be heard and processed by your Mexican counterparts. If facts are presented that are new, take the time to verify the information and sources before you reach a conclusion.

Negotiations in Mexico can be compared to the first round of a sporting event, both sides desire to “win”, but rarely do they burst onto the field with all their energy in the first 5 minutes. The process of “feeling out” the opponent, observing their strengths and weaknesses, are critical to understanding how to develop a winning strategy and understanding what you are up against.

Mexicans are often seeking a long term, stable relationship with suppliers and clients. Focus your negotiations and decisions on creating a long term business relationship and strategy with your Mexican counterpart.

Your ability to negotiate will be a reflection of your company, your character, and your abilities as a business person. Take your time, don’t get emotional, support your arguments with facts, and be consistent with your demands or desires over time. The negotiation process is helping to build trust and credibility, it’s important to build solid foundations for your future relationship.

Don’t be in a hurry to end the negotiations. The Mexican culture is more permissive about time and deadlines than you find in USA or Europe. If you are in a rush, you will lose important negotiating power.

Always start your negotiation with some margin and leeway. It will always to be to your advantage to “give” a little before the negotiations are over. It may take 4 hours for you to “give in”, but the gesture will be seen as your willingness to do business and enough for the negotiator to claim a little victory. Everyone wins.

Write down your final agreement, and the results of your negotiations and have both sides sign and retain a copy. This simple step will avoid any language, communication or interpretation problems that may develop in the future.

Related Links

Meeting People in Mexico – kiss, shake hands or hug

Before you go on a business trip to Mexico

How to do business in Mexico, parts 1 – 28

16 Essential Questions – International Business Traveller’s Quiz