Imagine this. You walk into a business meeting with a Latin American client, wearing your best khakis and most comfortable shoes. Your client reaches out to you, and you offer a firm handshake and then get to business. However, the meeting turns sour and you’re not sure what happened.
It’s a common issue, and it’s the result of some basic cultural misunderstandings. Latin American business people dress and speak formally, greet with hugs not handshakes, and expect business meetings to start with pictures of family and stories of children. In this situation, the lack of formal attire would suggest you didn’t take the client’s business seriously. The handshake feels like more of an insult than a greeting, and the absence of familial chitchat suggests that you’re more interested in his money than him. And you’ve left with money on the table and further from your goal than when you walked into the office.
When your business is ready to expand its reach into Latin America, business process outsourcing (BPO) companies can help. They provide an invaluable service, offering all types of companies the support they need to streamline their operations. When it comes to call center BPO companies, Mexico, among other countries, offers a tremendous amount of potential to businesses looking to expand to Latin America, but to keep that business, your team must understand some basics of Latin American business culture.
Respect Professional Titles and Accomplishments
While business relationships in the US may seem informal, in Latin America, business is conducted professionally, and it is good form to address colleagues and partners by their professional titles. For example, if a business partner is a vice president of sales at his company, addressing him as “Vice President” before his last name is a sign of respect. Don’t assume you’re on a first name basis with your Latin American business associate, and expect to hear them address you by a formal title.
Balance Warmth and Expressiveness With Formality
If you know Spanish, use the formal forms of pronouns. In some industries, speaking Spanish in the U.S. for business purposes is less formalized, but that’s not always so in Latin America. However, despite that level of formality, Latin American business negotiations are warmer and more physically expressive than in the U.S. It is not uncommon to see firm handshakes, hugs, and air kisses among business colleagues in Latin America.
Understand Latin American Meeting Dynamics
In the U.S., business meetings generally stick to a strict schedule and aim to minimize personal chatter and small talk. The opposite is true in Latin America, where business professionals often mix personal conversation with business dealings. Expect some meetings to run long to make room for small talk and personal banter and realize that this can help cultivate stronger relationships.
Time Is More Fluid in Latin America
In the US, if you show up right on time for a meeting’s scheduled start time you may as well be late in some cases; punctuality is very important in the American business world. In Latin American countries, time is more fluid, and it is not outside the norm for some meeting members to arrive after scheduled start times, sometimes as much as 30 minutes. In some countries and social situations, it’s more rude to be on time than it is to be “late.”
Looking for Latin American Call Center Services?
Call center services are an undeniably important part of modern business. If you want to expand your business to Latin America, find BPO services who know the local customs and how to forge strong relationships with local customers on behalf of your business. Call NextDoor Solutions today at (619) 400-4117 or contact us online to learn more about our services.