Strategies for sucess in doing business in Switzerland
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  1. 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 for more.
  2. 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.
  3. 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 services.
  4. 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.
  5. Donít 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.
  6. Donít 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.
  7. Donít 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 being over-emotional.
  8. Donít Criticize Switzerland Who likes to hear oneís 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.
  9. 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 buyersí 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.
  10. 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.

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