When I first went to the United States to work I was frequently told that the USA and Great Britain were two countries divided by the same language. George Bernard Shaw obviously worked in international business because he hit the nail right on the head. It wasn’t long before a colleague dragged me out of a client meeting and told me in no uncertain terms to stop calling our shiny new product a “scheme” – a word that any American immediately associates with something very underhand and unsavoury.
Heading out to the Far East was even more daunting – the concept of “Face” rules every negotiation. I recently listened to a client telling one of their Singapore-based client’s accounting department that “That’s our price, but if it all goes well we might come in under budget”. They were sure they were being nice, genuine and honest but the net result was a tangible panic on the other end of the call – not giving a partner sufficient information or details of intentions can cause them to lose face with their superiors if they can’t explain a budget discrepancy or over-run – let alone an under-charge.
Local knowledge is irreplaceable, never think English-speakers really speak English.
Nobody knows their way around every market but our experience can help get over the first hurdles. Setting up in a new territory requires local people, maybe we can make introductions..