|Strategies for sucess in doing business in Switzerland|
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- Be Polite The Swiss are as obsessed with
politeness as the Japanese, and your being very
rich will not be seen as a substitute for good manners. However, unlike Japan, politeness
has few formal rules. If you pay respect to your
host or business partner, remember to shake
hands and never shout. He or she will not ask
- Be Punctual Why not repeat it? Be on time. Being
a few minutes late is just impolite, but if you are
15 minutes or more behind schedule, chances are
your Swiss interlocutor will be very angry. If it
happens during the first meeting, it can compromise
the whole business relationship.
- Be Prepared Prepare everything you will need
for meetings before you arrive. Once there,
give your counterparts documents about you
and your company. Be prepared to quote figures
and prices and to answer in detail any
question they may ask about your products or
- Be Precise If you quote a figure, it must be
exact. When you describe a project or product,
you should fully grasp all its details.
- Don’t Show Off Your Money With so many oil
princes, sport and music star millionaires from
all over the world coming to stay in Switzerland,
the Swiss are used to seeing luxury
everywhere. Thus people will not be impressed
by a Ferrari or an expensive watch.
- Don’t Name Drop Famous people are common
in Switzerland. You will not surprise a Swiss if
you have once spoken with billionaires or
political leaders. Only mention it if you have
some exclusive horde of knowledge that is relevant
to the topic at hand.
- Don’t Speak Loudly The Swiss are discreet
and reserved people. They usually speak
slowly, choosing their words carefully. Speaking loudly and quickly will be interpreted as
- Don’t Criticize Switzerland Who likes to hear
one’s country criticized? The Swiss often criticize
their own country and especially to strangers,
but that is not an invitation for you to do
the same. Even if they will not show it, people
are often very patriotic and they will never forgive
you for putting them to shame.
- Exporting to Switzerland If you are a middleman,
some buyers will be reluctant to do business
with you. An Indian exporter recounts that
as soon as he said he had several nut factories in
India, he had no problem meeting the buyers of
the biggest Swiss supermarket. However,
another Indian who sold cotton goods independently
could not get a single appointment with
the same people. Swiss buyers’ first concern is
quality. Come with your best products and be
prepared to give sensible arguments to underscore
their quality. Manufactured goods should
come with very good after-sales support.
- Business Gifts During your first meeting you
can bring business gifts bearing the logo of your
organization. However, gifts intended for a specific
person should not bear any logo, unless the
gift is of very high quality and the logo very discreet.
If you want to do your host a favor, choose
a restaurant in a gastronomic guide such as the
Gault-Millau and invite him or her for a meal.
Wine, chocolates and cigars are recommended
but can be tricky if you cannot tell ganache from
Yquem. Offering foreign chocolates to a Swiss is
a cultural faux pas, even if the Swiss are more
and more aware of the excellent products made
in neighboring countries.