Brazil offers a wealth of opportunities to prospective investors but is also a country beset with bureaucratic and cultural difficulties – it is imperative to do your homework in advance.
Due to the various cultural and administrative complexities of the country, local advice and expertise is imperative in the early stages of business development.
Companies tend to be organised along strictly hierarchical lines (although this may vary if dealing with the subsidiary of a multi-national).
If possible, make sure you are dealing with the decision-maker rather than an influencer of the decision-maker.
Managers are expected to manage – dont be afraid to give clear, precise instructions.
Organisational hierarchy can be complicated by an intricate web of political alliances and relationships. Who is the real decision maker?
Relationships come first, second and third in Brazil. Time spent working on the development of long-term friendly relations is never a waste of resource.
It is always a good idea to stress long-term commitment to Brazil and your Brazilian contacts. Try to keep in touch between contracts or projects. Your relationship with your Brazilian counterparts is not purely transactional. It is personal as well.
Although first meetings can be more formal. They are generally quite informal and relaxed.
Punctuality is a variable commodity in Brazil. Meetings often start and finish late. It can be difficult to schedule more than one or two meetings per day.
Meetings usually start and finish with quite a lot of small talk – this is an important section of the meeting and should not be rushed.
Agendas are not always used and if present may be ignored by everybody except you.
Effort needs to be put into the process of melding a team together. Provide time space and opportunity for the all-important relationship-building process.
Although many Brazilians speak very good English, it is not universally spoken. When dealing with people outside the major cities, you may need to check if translation to Brazilian Portuguese is necessary.
Great emphasis is placed on the value of verbal communication. The things that people say are often given greater weight than anything in a written format.
Don’t simply rely on emails to give information. Follow things up with a phone call or a meeting to discuss the matter.
The use of emotion in communication should be seen as a sign of enthusiasm and emphasis rather than as anger or loss of control.
Brazilians use a great deal of body language, stand at relatively close proximity and have strong levels of eye contact. Try to become comfortable with these – dont act in a reserved fashion.
Although it is important to give the impression of being an easy-going lover of life, humour is best avoided in serious situations.
Appearance is very important for both men and women. Your appearance should reflect your level of importance.
Written and Produced by Keith Warburton
This country profile has been produced to give a short overview of some of the key concepts to bear in mind when doing business with contacts in Brazil. It is intended to be an aid to business people who have commercial dealings with counterparties in the country but should not be seen as an exhaustive guide to this topic or as a substitute for more substantial research should there be a need.
With this in mind, we have covered the areas which are key to a better understanding of the cultural mindset underpinning business dealings in Brazil and which are, quite often, extremely different from the approach and thought processes associated with business in other parts of the world.
Therefore this briefing note is broken into short, bite-sized sections on the following topics: