12 Dec Not all Business Territories are Created Equal – Part 2

For many years it has been tested and proven that whenever a business is to engage in a new territory, understanding the new location, customs, expectations, acceptable practices and customer attitudes is vital to a firm’s stability and success. The business landscape can be challenging if the proper preparation is not done before entering into a new territory.


International Business Territories Each Have their Differences and Customs

Each geographic region around the world has unique differences that should be considered thoroughly before entering into a target campaign, business meeting or new venture. When a salesperson enters a business engagement with the proper understanding of the other party’s mannerisms, background and local customs, they are better suited to adapt their body language, manner of speaking and vocabulary to increase their chances of being liked by the customer and, ultimately, close the deal.


Following Part 1 of our Business Territory overview, today we explore three new regions – America, India and the Middle East.

When seeking to conduct business within the international market, especially in America, India, and the Middle East, there are a few factures to be aware of, focusing on the most important aspects of Languages, Communication & Culture.  Common greetings in a business situation, as well as to understand the general etiquette for business meetings are key to success.




In America there are several factors to be aware of.  In general, one can expect:

  • Casual or informal greetings
  • A handshake and a “hello” are the traditional greeting to begin a meeting
  • Most introductions are done on a first name basis
  • Many Americans tend to be more direct in their ideas and manner of speaking
  • It is not uncommon to be expected to “tell it like it is”
  • Time is money, which means that one must be quick, to the point and specific in order to get their idea across as accurately and efficiently as possible
  • For first meetings, business attire will be appropriate in most settings unless otherwise instructed prior to the meeting
  • Punctuality is expected and while meetings may appear casual at times, all the content discussed is taken very seriously
  • It is important to stick to an agenda to present your material as efficient and succinctly as possible




Doing business in India also has its share of expectations:

  • Indians generally consider it impolite to say “no” thus one may receive an affirmative response to your business proposal, but it does not necessarily mean an affirmative decision
  • Decision makers tend to be vague in the details if they are not ready to commit
  • Religion, social class and education are a part of all types of greeting
  • It is customary in today’s marketplace to shake hands with a person of the same sex, but one should wait for a member of the opposite sex to extend their hand first to determine if they are comfortable with a hand shake
  • One should always greet the most senior person first in a meeting
  • When leaving a meeting each individual should bid farewell
  • Business is generally done with people that trust each other, therefore it is wise to be introduced through a known 3rd party first to establish a good relationship
  • Decisions are generally drawn out and it is expected to be patient throughout this process
  • Successful agreements are generally celebrated with a meal
  • Titles such as Doctor, Professor, and Engineer are highly respected, but in the absence of a title, the use of Sir or Madam is preferred
  • One should wait to be invited before using a person’s first name without the title
  • Trust and respect are the most important aspects for any business transaction



Middle East

Business territories in the Middle East have their own specific customs and expectations and these are some of the more common practices to consider before engaging in business within the territory:

  • Islam is the governing religion and is practiced throughout the Middle East, so a basic understanding of Islam and its role the business world is recommended
  • In general, men and women do not greet each other in public
  • Men shake hands to begin a meeting or introduction
  • In most countries, one will need a local sponsor to enter and engage in negotiations
  • One should always try to schedule business meetings in the morning
  • Until trust is established, it is not uncommon for your meeting to be interrupted
  • Discussions on business will not begin until after inquiries about health, family, etc.
  • Decision making takes time and it is important not to rush this process
  • Most decisions will require several individuals or levels to be completed
  • One should repeat the main points to emphasize the truth of their words
  • Business attire is expected regardless of what others may wear
  • Arabic translation of the materials is generally expected and appreciated even if the communication taking place is in English


Success in International Business Territories

Each area has its own share of traditions, customs and expected practices. It is important for businesses to study their target audience and their expectations well in advance to ensure that the goal can be achieved in the best possible way.

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