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A European’s Perspective on Doing Business in the USA

Eric Zahrai

February 13, 2023

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When doing business in the US, consider the following aspects:

Customer Service:American businesses prioritize delivering exceptional customer service and creating a positive experience for their customers. They have a strong customer-centric culture and are willing to go above and beyond to meet customer needs and provide maximum customer satisfaction. With a friendly, approachable and empathetic customer service, American companies often have customer-friendly policies regarding returns, warranties, and support, and are willing to find “out of the box” solutions to satisfy customers.

Work Ethic: Americans are proud of their strong work ethic and often work long hours, blurring the lines between their professional and personal lives. In addition, Americans are not accustomed to long vacations as paid time off is not mandated in the US but offered at the discretion of each company according to their own policies. It is not unusual for Americans not to use their full vacation days or to use them as “staycations” (i.e. vacationing at home). As many as 70% of Americans still don’t own a passport, which means that many of them have not traveled internationally.

Building Relationships: Americans often entertain clients by taking them out to dinner, attending sporting or cultural events, playing golf or other recreational activities, or hosting them at their homes. The entertainment may vary depending on the nature of the business and the preferences of the clients, but the goal is to build a friendly rapport, and show appreciation for their business. Many companies are becoming more cautious about optics and concerned about avoiding potential conflicts of interest. Some prohibit employees from accepting invitations or gifts.

Negotiations:In the US, they are result oriented as American businesses place a great deal of value on ‘getting things done’and doing so as quickly and efficiently as possible. For that reason, Americans tend to approach negotiations directly and transparently and may not spend as much time building relationships. Negotiations are well prepared, using the BATNA approach, and Americans often enter with a winning spirit, and often believe in their abilities, even without a clear advantage. Proceedings are prescriptive and trust is placed in the contract as opposed to in relationships.

Politics and Religion:While politics and religion are often avoided in conversations, the country's political polarization can create unique dynamicsthat businesses must consider when dealing with people from different parts of the country. From increasing regulatory uncertainty to sharply diverging customer preferences due to differing values and beliefs, businesses must navigate a complex environment that includes charged topics such as gun control, climate change, abortion rights, racial discrimination, etc.

American Melting Pot: Although America is known as a cultural melting pot, in reality countless distinctions exist. For example, in addition to American English and its multiple accents and dialects, it's also important to recognize Spanish as a critical business language in some regions. Whether it’s the Far West, the Deep South, the Midwest or the East Coast, American cultural differences are many. One writer even considers the US to be made up of11 “sub nations.” So take this into account when doing business there

In conclusion, American businesses prioritize exceptional customer service, a strong work ethic, building relationships with clients, and straightforward negotiations. But this politically and culturally diverse country can pose some challenges for companies trying to navigate the written and unwritten “rules of the game” unique to each environment.

Reach out to Bellevue Internatiomnal Sales Solutions. We can help you navigate this complex market.