Starting up a business or exporting to territories with a different culture, such as Latin America, requires a great amount of research and strategy, but most important it requires an attitude adjustment from the Northern hemisphere businesspeople. Technical facts and sales literature and a ticking clock will not cut the deal. Neither will "dos cervezas, por favor". By the way, language alone doesn't define a culture; there are many layers to the complex ways of how humans communicate with each other, such as local customs, habits, non-verbal language, food, religion, politics, hierarchy, and economy, among many other aspects. Even with Spanish as the common language among the countries in Latin America (with the exception of Brazil with Portuguese as their language), there are many subtle differences in their way of conducting business, their concept of time and their openness to international suppliers.
Cultural Awareness is everything
Breaking into a Latin American market demands awareness and sensitivity to the new culture, thus a lot of patience, learning and humbleness is involved. Showing respect and commitment to their customs will help establish a true connection that will lead to a lasting relationship. Understanding their business practices and the delicate balance between power, relationships and achievements will help you convert your customers faster and easier.
So brace yourself...if you are about to start a wonderful journey through the vast, complex and amazing Latin American business world, do not fear. Help is on the way!