Business success in another country depends not only on the local market conditions, but also the ability to adapt to a given culture and the corresponding business etiquette. Therefore, what should we keep in mind when we consider starting our business activity in Mexico?
According to the ranking of the World Bank, Mexico currently ranks 15th on the list of the 30 largest economies in the world. As a member of NAFTA, OECD, G-20, and WTO, Mexico has established free trade agreements with 44 countries, including the European Union Member States. Business activities in Mexico can be hindered by factors such as corruption, high level of social inequalities, or complex customs procedures. These disadvantages, however, are counterbalanced by the market’s numerous advantages: macroeconomic stability, size and unsaturation, as well as the good reputation of European products among Mexican customers.
To be like a Mexican
Personal relationships are the key element to developing a successful business relationship in Mexican culture. The proper way of addressing interlocutors (señor, señora) is of great importance in business negotiations. We should use titles appropriate to our interlocutor’s age, marital status, or education. Mexicans tend not to distance themselves from their conversation partners and express their emotions openly. Moreover, they are very expressive, gesticulate widely, and often interrupt their interlocutors.
Furthermore, Mexicans value gestures that emphasize intimacy, such as hugging or patting – failing to use them may be considered offensive. It is also inappropriate to show impatience or anger, as such behaviour may easily lead to offending the other person. You also should not appear pessimistic, point out mistakes, or openly criticize the ideas of the hosts – this will be considered not a constructive criticism, but a business faux pas.
Patience is a virtue
If you are planning to negotiate with Mexicans, remember to make some time. Business meetings very often take form of lunches and are an important element of developing a relationship between business partners. They usually take place between 2.00 p.m. and 3.00 p.m. and last about 3-4 hours. Whereas Europeans tend to get straight to the point, Mexicans prefer to get to know
their interlocutor first through casual dialogue. Therefore, you should not feel disheartened if negotiations do not even start at the first meeting. Entrepreneurs from this country slowly and fiercely negotiate terms and conditions of the partnership, which means that, in addition to patience, a well-constructed initial offer is of great importance, as it gives you room for manoeuvre until the last stage of the conversation.
Eyes and ears wide open
Mexicans do not directly turn down offers. By saying, “do not call us, we will call you” or “we will continue to investigate this situation” they often express lack of interest in the proposal. This is why business conversations require a great proficiency in communication skills:
understanding the importance of reticence, sudden changes in topic or unfinished statements. It is essential to distinguish between situations when the potential business partner may require a little more pressure, and those when there is no chance for a successful transaction.