Mexico: Let's Make a Deal!
What you should know before negotiating
Mexicans prefer to do business only with people whom they "know." The road to knowing a person in Mexico is long and can be arduous, but it begins with a dedication to achieving success in Mexico. Perceptive Mexicans will sense this and extend a hand.
Families play a dominant role in Mexican society and are a major influence on individual behaviour. Mexican families can be large and blood relationships can be augmented by a man's extended family. It can include college friends, business associates and others. One does well to consider the entire context of his prospect partner. He will also find that many Mexican companies are family-owned or controlled.
In Mexican business culture, interpersonal skills such as “fitting in”, cultivating relationships, and, most importantly, winning the favour of others, are sometimes considered more important than professional competence or experience.
Because establishing close relationships, trust, and favour are so important in Mexico, one may return many times to Mexico to build these bonds.
You'll find that Mexican business culture has a warm, friendly atmosphere, with a slower pace.
For the purpose of discussion, Mexicans are often willing to embrace new ideas and concepts. You may notice, however, very little change in their opinions.
Mexicans may look less to rules or laws for guidance in solving problems. Rather, they will look at the particulars of each situation and involve themselves personally in finding a solution.
Subjective feelings tend to be the basis of truth in Mexican business culture. Emotional appeals are often effective here, so one can do well to emphasize how your Mexican counterparts will achieve personal satisfaction from your proposal. You may also mention how your proposal will heighten your counterparts' sense of honour and family pride. But remember that Mexicans see many North Americans and are quick to recognize shallow ploys.
Empirical evidence and other objective facts will frequently be considered and used by Mexicans with a higher education.
Use excellent visuals in your presentations. [Presentations have little value unless and until the Mexican wants to see them. They are no substitute for good relationships.]
Negotiations are usually lengthy, and will include a lot of “haggling.” [--although the North American may not perceive it as haggling.]
Mexicans avoid directly saying “no.” A “no” is often disguised in responses such as “maybe” or “We'll see.” You should also use this indirect approach in your dealings. Otherwise, your Mexican counterparts may perceive you as being rude and pushy.
Be aware that Mexican businesspeople are often well-informed about their counterparts. Before even considering negotiations, you must understand the detail of the proposed venture and have established that you have the authority to act.
The appearance and presentation of letters, memos, reports, promotional literature, or any other type of document you present in your business dealings, are considered very important and will be subject to scrutiny.
One should never throw documents on the table during a business meeting. This gesture is considered highly offensive.
In Mexican business culture, although subordinates are enccouraged to give their input, only the highest person in authority [frequently the owner of the company] makes the final decision.
When the final decision is made, ensure that it is followed by a written agreement.
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