Lewis Elin commented:
Regardless of the country and the culture, I think that all or at least most people have one question when faced with a decision to buy something, especially something that is new to them: “What’s in it for me?” Whether a person is in an economy, a culture that is very inclusive or in an economy or culture that is oriented to others, they still want to know “what’s in it for me? What will I get from this?” Even if a person is acting for the benefit of others, there is something in a purchase decision for him or her. The concept of “benefits” and “pushing someone’s hot button of self-interest” is universal. I doubt if there are many cultures where self-interest does not get translated into every decision to shell out money to buy something.
American companies wanting to do business in foreign countries could do a lot worse than to focus on what benefits their products or services have for buyers in new markets and what these buyers’ hot buttons of self-interest are. In B2B they aim to make money. Period. Help your foreign friend to make money, you have a friend and customer for life. No one wants to be on the losing end of a transaction. Keep the other side on a winning end and you’ll both come out ahead.
I got started in exporting in the early ’90s and one fact I realized early on was that getting paid was not the critical issue that many made it out to be. Do you insist on pre-payment when your foreign customer wants open account? Do you go for a letter of credit and if so, what kind of Letter. It can get very, very sticky and complicated. But you know something? If two people want to do business with each other badly enough, they’ll work out a method of payment. Going over there and pressing the flesh can be the fastest and cheapest way to get stated. If there’s a Starbucks or McDonald’s close by, you can sit down and cut a deal.