5 Essential Tips for Doing Business in Germany
by Teva Serna
Extremely organised, punctual, disciplined, bureaucratic, dogmatic…..the list goes on. Clichés on German business culture are widespread. But are they really accurate? What do you really need to know before a business meeting in Germany?
As the largest economic power in Europe, Germany has many export opportunities open to British businesses. But if you want to be successful on the German market, the key is to be fully prepared. We have put together a few tips to help you avoid any faux pas and optimise your chances of success in Germany.
1. Follow the Schedule
It may be a stereotype, but turning up late will leave a very poor impression on your German counterparts. Meetings should be scheduled well in advance, as Germans prefer to stay organised and plan ahead. The agenda will have been decided before the meeting and will aim at reaching a clear result, rather than an open conversation.
2. Stick to Business
Keeping distances is common and expected in the German business world. Don’t bring up your private life and sensitive topics such as politics or religion should be avoided.
3. Be Frank
The Germans are much more direct than their British counterparts. A blunt ‘no’ will not be frowned upon and honest criticism is favoured. Don’t beat around the bush: a German won’t be offended by this and will trust you more than if you don’t get to the point. On the upside, your partners will usually mean what they say and honour their word.
4. Focus on the Facts
German organisations can be very hierarchical. As a result, decisions will be made at the top level, and often follow strict procedures. Similarly, avoid aggressive sales methods and snazzy leaflets. Instead, present the facts clearly and thoroughly, and support your claims with detailed information. Your partners will want to review all the details before committing to something. Stick to what you said, as surprises and unexpected changes are not appreciated and the Germans are usually averse to risk.
5. Keep Humour for Lunches and Drinks
If you are invited to a business lunch, this is a great opportunity to build rapport, as your partners will be more relaxed and less reserved. As a rule, your host will pay the bill and insisting on paying it could be seen as offensive.
How to be Ready: Cross-Cultural Training
Having German language skills will strongly benefit your business in Germany. But being culturally aware will optimise your chances of closing a deal and establishing strong business relationship. Cross-cultural training will help you develop key cultural awareness skills for doing business with German partners. At Cactus Language Training, we offer several options that you can combine together to be fully trained and ready:
Cactus language offers the following types of language courses:
Evening language courses: 19 different languages in 15 UK locations
Language holidays: worldwide immersion courses in the country of the language
Private tuition: tailor-made and corporate language training solutions throughout the world
TEFL: teacher training courses for both English and other languages all over the world
Online courses: for teacher training, English and French