Mastering Business Meetings in Brazil: How to Influence Brazilians and Make Profits
November 21, 2017
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Brazilian culture is drastically different from the West, and even Europe. Without proper research, you could easily fall victim to a cultural faux pas or social miscue that derails your negotiation process.
The best way to do business with Brazil is to integrate yourself in the Brazilian culture, an essential part of doing business in South America’s largest nation, and boost your confidence so that you can finalize that supply deal in Brazil.
It’s crucial that all business expeditions to Brazil focus on the personal relationship made with Brazilian clients. Family, food and sports, along with comments on what you like about Brazilian culture are great conversation points. Topics to avoid are politics and religion, as Brazil is a Catholic country and doesn’t appreciate anti-theistic beliefs or opinions.
Family, food and sports, along with comments on what you like about Brazilian culture are great conversation points. Topics to avoid are politics and religion
Business appointments should be made two or three weeks in advance, and with written confirmation. Considering Brazilian’s attitude towards meeting in person, they sit in many meetings and it’s crucial to have your appointment booked.
Brazilians prefer face-to-face meetings as it enables them to know the person with whom they are negotiating. Additionally, they tend to focus more on the individual rather than the foreign supplier, meaning that sending a different representative back to Brazil to negotiate could damage the business relationship.
Dress to Impress
It’s vital that you dress to impress, especially during first meetings, as Brazilians are very proud of their appearance and stylish dressing is highly respected. Men wearing a suit and tie, and women wearing something similarly formal, is appropriate for most business occasions. Staying in a luxurious hotel or driving an expensive car is sure to impress Brazilian business partners even further.
Men wearing a suit and tie, and women wearing something similarly formal, is appropriate for most business occasions. Staying in a luxurious hotel or driving an expensive car is sure to impress Brazilian business partners even further.
When introductions are being made in meetings, the formal way to greet men in Brazilian Portuguese is senhor (senhora for women). Business cards should be exchanged with every member, preferably with the Brazilian-Portuguese side facing the recipient. Any sign of engaging with Brazil’s culture is encouraged and appreciated, such as learning a few Brazilian Portuguese phrases, researching Brazilian history or stating aspects of Brazil that you like better than your home country.
Expect a crowd
Brazilian business culture can be rather informal. This could include noisy, overcrowded meetings with constant interruptions while you’re speaking or presenting. What may be seen as rude by foreigners is actually an indication that they are interested in the content being presented. Don’t get frustrated during these meetings if you’re hoping to build a successful relationship with a Brazilian supplier.
Take your time
It’s also important to never rush negotiations when they do occur, especially if it means skipping the small-talk. This can be seen as rude and can damage your professional relationship, which is essential to successful business. Instead, it’s recommended that you wait until negotiations are brought up organically by your Brazilian counterpart.
Things don’t always start on time
While punctuality is appreciated in universal business culture, Brazilians tend to be habitually late. This stretches beyond business negotiations and even beyond borders.
While punctuality is appreciated in universal business culture, Brazilians tend to be habitually late... If your Brazilian business partners end up being late, it’s important that you don’t appear annoyed or impatient.
The excessive traffic in Brazilian cities like Sao Paulo is usually the culprit, coupled with the Brazilian philosophy that personal relationships are more important than strict schedules. If your Brazilian business partners end up being late, it’s important that you don’t appear annoyed or impatient.
This leniency is sometimes extended towards foreigners, but you should strive to arrive on time to meetings, especially in Sao Paulo and Brasilia where there’s more of a Western business culture.
Business technicalities, such as finance, are universally considered a pain during negotiations. This is especially the case within the Brazilian business culture, which prioritizes relationship strength and personal trust over numbers and figures. This issue is easily avoided through Veem’s global payment platform, which makes B2B transactions as simple as sending an email.
Mastering Brazilian culture is no easy feat; it takes years of effort and dedication to truly embrace the way that business is done. However, it’s the key to long, sustainable success in Latin America’s largest country, and foreign importers and exporters alike would be wise to better understand the culture of Brazil.
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