Negotiation & Follow Up

The French are less likely to use humour in very serious situations in business, than some other nationalities

As French businesspeople are very formal, socialising after meetings will not occur until firm working relationships have been established

An effort to build an understanding of their language and culture will improve relationships significantly

First impressions are very important to the French, and may have a strong impact on the outcome of your business relationship

You will find that conversations often develop into spirited debates

Give opinions only on subjects that you are knowledgeable about

Quick action on this reinforces the importance of the meeting with the French and also reduces errors in memory

Follow up on any delegated decisions and see that all members understand and carry out their responsibilities

Place unfinished business on the agenda for the next meeting

A number of days after the meeting, your French colleagues will appreciate a follow-up phone call.

Studying French history, politics, and other aspects of the culture will be an advantage for you in conversation with the French

The longer the negotiations continue the higher are your chances of success, since agreements usually take a long time to reach.

Because your negotiation partners will want to be comfortable, that all risks have been identified and managed or mitigated, it might appear to you that they are making things more complicated than necessary

Any hard sell techniques or hard bargaining, are likely to cause offence and reduce your chances of getting a deal altogether

Once a decision has been reached between those in the negotiation process, there is a high likelihood that your partners will have to go through a similar internal process, and therefore even if you have signed a contract, there is a chance that they will come back to re-negotiate it

You should always try and seek out the top decision maker in the organisation to speed up your negotiations and reduce discussions with intermediaries.

Be prepared to answer questions about your own country, especially regarding its history and political matters

Give business cards to the receptionist or secretary, upon arrival at an office and to each person you meet subsequently

Print cards in English or French, preferably both.

Include your academic degree and/or title, as the French place great importance on these

You need to be aware that you are very likely to come across bureaucratic and centralised decision-making.

Focus on the subject matter of the deal you are discussing and at no point should you bring in other matters .

Be prepared to answer direct and detailed questions

If you are facing intermediaries treat them with same respect, even though you might be aware that they are not able to finalise the decision on their own

Intermediaries can help you to reach a positive outcome, but if you offend them this will also be reported and your chances of successful negotiations will be reduced.

When negotiating be upfront about your deadlines and make sure that your counterparts are reminded of them if they are critical for you, otherwise these will generally be regarded as flexible dates.

The shaking of hands when greeting and departing is a French custom in business etiquette