Let’s Make a Deal! – Business Negotiations
Avoid high-pressure sales tactics. They are seen as confrontational. Business is hierarchical, though not always apparent. The person with the most authority makes decisions. Defer to the person with the most authority, as they are most likely the decision maker.
Jamaicans are direct and say what they mean. They appreciate brevity and are not impressed by too much detail. Bargaining is customary and expected. Do not give your best offer at the beginning of negotiations. Similarly do not put all your cards on the table at one time, your Jamaican colleagues won’t. You should expect to spend a great deal of time reviewing details before a contract is drawn up.
You will want to use local lawyers, at least as correspondents, for sensitive or important issues since they will be aware of the nuances of doing business locally. Generally an agreement is considered final with a handshake, and time is then allowed for detailed discussion on the mechanics and details of the broad understanding. Jamaicans are receptive to new ideas and think of themselves as entrepreneurial – willing to challenge the status quo and to assume appropriate business risk to get things done. They are quick to appreciate success in others, and somewhat slower replicate locally. They will be just as quick in shunning “emptiness.”
Your brochures and promotional literature should be printed in English, and the local business community is equally at home with a multi-media presentation, as they are with verbal, one-on-one dialogue.
The country is small, market thin, and the professional business community even smaller with an active grapevine. Company policy is normally followed, although there are several local companies that are flexible given the evolving nature of their operations and business model. The Jamaican businessman tends to be “conceptual” and conducts business to make a profit. Most have an interest in “giving something back” to their communities.