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McGraw-Hill Professional Publishing
Kiss, Bow, or Shake Hands, Sales and Marketing: The Essential Cultural Guide--From Presentations and Promotions to Communicating and Closing / Edition 1

Kiss, Bow, or Shake Hands, Sales and Marketing: The Essential Cultural Guide--From Presentations and Promotions to Communicating and Closing / Edition 1

by Terri Morrison, Wayne A. ConawayTerri Morrison
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How do you break the ice in the UAE?
When do you present a contract in China?
How close should you stand to a South Korean?

Kiss, Bow, or Shake Hands: Sales and Marketing is an informative, entertaining guide that shows you what to do—and what to avoid—in any given sales or marketing situation, from Argentina to South Africa. It provides the expert knowledge you need to gather data in diverse cultures, properly present your products, and close deals around the world.

“As the global community comes closer together, Kiss, Bow, or Shake Hands: Sales & Marketing will be a valuable resource to every person in every industry around the world.”
—Gil A. Cardon, Convention Manager, Japan National Tourism Organization

“Just as you can be a connoisseur of wine, Kiss, Bow or Shake Hands: Sales and Marketing can help make you a connoisseur of cultures, philosophies, business behaviors, and social practices. Read it not just for work, but for the human side as well.”
—Giuseppe G. B. Pezzotti, Senior Lecturer, Cornell University School of Hotel Administration

“Terri has accurately and succinctly captured the key issues that businesspeople or tourists need to know when traveling. It is spot-on, and a very valuable resource!”
—Thomas M. Feifar, Director of Foreign Military Sales, NAVISTAR Defense

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780071714044
Publisher: McGraw-Hill Professional Publishing
Publication date: 11/18/2011
Pages: 304
Sales rank: 567,257
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Terri Morrison is president of Getting Through Customs, the developers of the McGraw-Hill Kiss, Bow, or Shake Hands digital product. She and Wayne A. Conaway are coauthors of nine books, including Library Journal’s Best Business Books winner Kiss, Bow, or Shake Hands and Dun & Bradstreet’s Guide to Doing Business Around the World.

Read an Excerpt


The Essential Cultural Guide—from Presentations and Promotions to Communicating and Closing
By Terri Morrison Wayne A. Conaway


Copyright © 2012 Terri Morrison
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-07-171404-4

Chapter One


Conventional long form: Argentine Republic

Local long form: República Argentina

Local short form: Argentina

Population: 41,769,726 (2011 estimate)

Median age: 30.5 years

Age structure: (2011 estimates)

0–14 years: 25.4%

15–64 years: 63.6%

65 years and over: 11.0%

GDP per capita (PPP): $14,700 (2010 estimated in US dollars)

Suffrage: 18 years old; universal and compulsory

Legal drinking age: 18 years old



1. Argentina is the second largest country in South America, but according to the World Bank's 2009 statistics, it has only 40.3 million people, and the vast majority live in urban areas. Professional networks in the cities are strong, active, and so tightly woven that Argentina can feel like a small country. Everyone seems to know everyone else.

Gustavo Espina, vice president of a Fortune 500 global travel services firm—and a native Argentinean—offered this perspective on breaking the ice in Buenos Aires:

In Buenos Aires, as soon as you introduce yourself, the conversation often leads to how you and your associate may be connected to each other—to mutual friends or shared interests. For example, if your prospect has a prominent family name, it would be helpful if you were familiar with it and could ask a question like "Thank you for seeing me, Señor Borges (or San Martin, or Saavedra Lamas). Would you be any relation to the famous author, statesman, or Nobel laureate?"

Discussing the major universities in Argentina also is a reasonable way to find a connection. Three notable institutions include the highly regarded University of Buenos Aires (UBA)—Argentina's largest public, completely free, university; the Universidad Católica Argentina (UCA), a private, smaller institution; and Universidad de San Andrés, an exclusive, private university. Each institution has its own particular assets, and a conversation about different alumni you may know and the sports they may have played (rugby, soccer, polo, golf, etc.) can give you a solid opening for your first meeting.

2. Argentina's naming conventions are unique in South America. If you are given a business card that says, "Señor Juan Ruiz Martinez," you might say:

"Encantado a conocerle, Señor Ruiz Martinez."

"It is a pleasure to meet you, Señor Ruiz Martinez."

Or you might say:

"Encantado a conocerle, Señor Martinez."

"It is a pleasure to meet you, Señor Martinez."

Either response demonstrates that you understand one major difference between Argentina and all the rest of Spanish-speaking Latin America. Instead of assuming that the father's surname is listed first, you know that the father's side of the family may have two surnames, which is why you might say "Señor Ruiz Martinez." Alternately, the father's name may come last. But in every other Spanish-speaking country, from Bolivia to Venezuela, one's mother's name is last. In that case, Señor Ruiz Martinez would be addressed as Señor Ruiz.


1. Never take offense at being offered a cigarette or cigar, or be disturbed by someone smoking nearby. Argentina and its neighbor Chile have the highest rates of smoking in South America. Despite antismoking efforts, more than a third of Argentine adults still smoke. Additionally, about 25 percent of Argentine teenagers smoke.

Cigarette companies no longer advertise on Argentine radio or television. They rely on billboards, kiosks, and magazine ads. A survey of 120 convenience stores in Buenos Aires found that all the stores sold cigarettes, and most had the cigarettes in proximity to candy (although cigarette sales to minors are prohibited). Eighty percent of the stores had cigarette point-of-sale advertisements, regardless of the socioeconomic status of the neighborhood.

2. Don't try to adhere to an agenda bullet by bullet or attempt to force a close quickly. Argentineans generally approach topics in a diffuse manner, and avoid risky investments. They tend to examine issues and people from different angles. Personal inquiries demonstrate an interest in the relationship, so never rebuff a question, and never refuse invitations for social events. Let your agenda be driven by your Argentinean contact.

In their book Riding the Waves of Culture: Understanding Diversity in Global Business, authors Fons Trompenaars and Charles Hampden-Turner reported how a Swedish company closed a contract with an Argentine firm—and trounced its US competitor. The Swedes spent their first five days of a weeklong trip simply getting to know the prospect. Only then were the Argentineans willing to talk about business. The US executives allocated only two days for their entire trip and tried to force the Argentineans to negotiate on their schedule. They failed. The Argentineans signed with the Swedes, even though the US company may have had the superior product.

Another possible reason why the Swedes won was that their negotiating style can be opaque. They believe that "information is power," so they never reveal too much data at once. Not disclosing every detail of their thoughts or their agenda may have proven advantageous in this case.


As a foreigner, you are expected to be prompt. However, punctuality has not been a traditional virtue in Argentina, so do not be surprised if your counterpart is late.

Different rules apply to social events. At parties or dinner, even foreigners are expected to be 30 minutes late. If you are unsure whether you should be prompt, ask, "En punto?" ("On the dot?") Of course, you must be prompt for events with a scheduled start time, like sporting events or the theater.


The workweek runs Monday through Friday.

Argentine executives are very competitive and often have a long workday. Some routinely work until 10:00 P.M. You might be given an appointment scheduled for an hour that seems unusually late.

In 2011, Argentina had 17 official holidays (which may or may not be paid). In addition, there are minimum requirements for annual paid vacations, based on length of service:

After 1 year 14 days minimum paid vacation After 5 year 21 days After 10 year 28 days After 20 year 35 days


Stand 1 to 1&fra12; feet from the person with whom you're speaking. Argentineans are not as tactile as some other Latin Americans, but do not be surprised if your associate touches your arm during a conversation.

Argentineans may converse at a closer distance once the discussion becomes more animated. Their doing so demonstrates interest and greater comfort with physical proximity. Be certain not to back away, since it may be interpreted as a rebuff.



At an initial business meeting, Argentine men offer a brief handshake and a nod to other men. However, if the men are friends, they will also engage in a back- thumping embrace called an abrazo. This may be accompanied by a handshake, or it may be bracketed by handshakes at the beginning and end.

Men will also shake hands with women. If they are friends or are being introduced by a friend, they will kiss one cheek. Some Argentine men kiss other men (parents, good friends) on the cheek.

Women generally gently shake hands with other women at an initial business meeting. If they are friends, women exchange kisses on the cheek, even in a business context.

Of equal importance as the handshake is direct eye contact during the greeting. Eye contact conveys trustworthiness; averting one's eyes indicates deception. This eye contact is maintained during one-on-one conversations (which, since they are conducted at such close quarters, may strike some foreigners as uncomfortably intense).


* There is no formal Argentine tradition involving the exchange of business cards. However, treat all business cards you receive with respect.

* Your cards should be formatted in advance with Spanish on one side and your native language on the other.


1. Tact

2. Malbec and Beef

3. A Leader of Latin America


Argentineans avoid conflict. Knowing what to say in Argentina is important, but so is knowing what not to say. One thing that makes this difficult is that, in the process of getting to know you, Argentineans will ask your opinion on many topics, including what you think of your country, your country's government, and your country's policies.

Obviously, you want to avoid offending your Argentine counterparts by supporting something to which they may object. For example, if you are from the United States, you should avoid the subject of US support for Israel, since Argentina recognized Palestinian statehood in 2010. There are several other geopolitical details you should be aware of as well. Argentina fought a war in 1982 with the United Kingdom over the Malvinas Islands (never call them the Falkland Islands!), and relations with the United Kingdom remain troubled to this day. Argentine claims over parts of Antarctica also overlap those of several other nations; know whether your country is one of the rival claimants, so you can diplomatically avoid the topic, should it arise. Also, if you do business with Chileans, don't advertise it on your products. Argentina and Chile have had rivalries in the past, and it may not be advantageous for your product to broadcast Chile as its country of origin. (For instance, one company placed the Chilean flag on wine shipped to Argentina, and the wine did not sell well.) While most disagreements between Argentina and Chile are in the past, it is not helpful to compare sports teams, wines, economies, or politics. (Although it may be hard to avoid noting that Chile and Argentina have simultaneously had female presidents, an unusual circumstance in South America.)

Many Argentineans believe they should know the right answer to any question. Perhaps because so much of the population is highly educated, intelligent and convincing responses are valued. The actual query doesn't matter—it can be something as mundane as knowing correct directions—the importance lies in a cogent, thoughtful reply. Of course, if your prospect is wrong, never expose his or her mistake in public.


There is no doubt that you will benefit from knowing about two of Argentina's world-renowned products: the country's signature wine, called Malbec, and grass-fed beef.

Malbec is Argentina's remarkable deep red wine. The first Malbec vines were imported in the 1800s from the Cahors region of France, where the grapes were blended with darker Tannat grapes to produce the "Black Wine of Cahors."

Malbec vines flourished in Argentina's dry heat and cool, high altitudes. They became exceptionally productive, particularly in Argentina's northern Mendoza region. Vineyards are planted there, on average, around 3,300 feet above sea level. Argentinean winemakers sometimes compete to have the highest vineyards, and will print their exact altitudes on their labels. One winery in the Andes is planted at more than 9,000 feet above sea level, which makes it the highest commercial vineyard in the world!

The higher you go, the more aromatic and fresher the wine is said to become. Connoisseurs can identify the vineyard where Malbec originates by the character of the wine, which is tied to its altitude. Malbec's dry fruit and spice aromas are considered a perfect complement to Argentina's other specialty—beef.

Demonstrating an appreciation for prime Argentine beef is very useful during a business meal. An asado (selection of grilled meats) is an Argentinean staple and can include beef, lamb, and vegetables. The cattle are grass-fed on the pampas and develop a unique flavor based upon their diet, their muscle tone, and the percentage of fat marbleized throughout the meat. Everyone, from executives to tourists, enjoys asados in top restaurants throughout Argentina.

Excellent restaurants abound in Buenos Aires, particularly in the Puerto Madero district, the Recoleta, and the Palermo area. If you do business in Buenos Aires, you go out to eat, so expect a selection of medallion de lomo (tenderloin), ojo de bife (rib-eye), and an array of sausages and sweetbreads—all grilled to perfection.

If possible, take a walk (dar un paseo) on a Sunday around 12:30 or 1:00 P.M. The fragrance of hundreds of asados on home grills wafts throughout the city and makes Buenos Aires live up to its name.

Cultural Note

As in many countries, sports are a popular topic of conversation in Argentina, and famous sports figures are often sought after for commercial endorsements. Football (soccer) is Argentina's biggest sport. The Argentine national team has won two FIFA World Cups, two Olympic gold medals, and many other international titles.

The second most popular sport (tied with auto racing) is basketball. The men's national team has won several important events, including the gold at the 2004

Olympics. Many Argentineans play in the NBA.

Other important sports include rugby, tennis, polo, and golf.

However, the official national sport of Argentina is none of the above; it's a rather obscure sport called pato. Pato uses a ball with six handles on it; players on horseback try to grab the ball and throw it through a hoop. While pato is not overly popular, it is Argentina's only indigenous sport, which is why it was declared the national game in 1953. Pato now has players in Europe and the United States, where it is better known as horseball.


Buenos Aires has long been known as the Paris of South America. This designation is quite fitting, as Argentineans consider their country to be a leading nation in Latin America. Argentina has produced a number of famous and accomplished citizens. It can be helpful to be familiar with each of these prominent Argentine names:

* Jorge Luis Borges (1899–1986): Recognized as Argentina's foremost author of the 20th century.

* Diego Maradona (1960–): Football player and coach; considered by most Argentineans to be the greatest footballer of all time.

* Astor Piazolla (1921–1992): Musician and composer; took tango music in a new and controversial direction, which became known as nuevo tango.

* Manuel Puig (1932–1990): Author who spent much of his life in exile but is well known due to stage and film versions of his novel Kiss of the Spider Woman.

* José de San Martin (1778–1850): Founding father; known as the Protector of the South; led the independence movement that freed the region from Spanish control.

* Mercedes Sosa (1935–2009): Folk singer; well known throughout Latin America and Europe. Her socially conscious songs earned her the title the Voice of the Voiceless Ones.

To date, five Argentineans have received a Nobel Prize:

* Carlos Saavedra Lamas (1878–1959): Lawyer; 1936 Nobel Peace Prize

* Bernardo Alberto Houssay (1887–1971): Scientist; 1947 Nobel Prize in Medicine

* Luia Federico Leloir (1906–1987): Chemist; 1970 Nobel Prize in Chemistry

* Adolpho Pérez Esquivel (1931–): Architect and sculptor; 1980 Nobel Peace Prize

* César Milstein (1927–): Biochemist; 1984 Nobel Prize in Medicine

Cultural Note

The Argentine cowboy, called the gaucho, is the idealized hero of rural Argentina. In Argentine mythology, the gaucho is independent yet loyal, fearless in battle but generous in peace. A favor or an act of generosity can be called a gauchada.

Another important cultural component of Argentine tradition is mate, a brew derived from a local plant poured in a small, bowl-like receptacle from which people drink in shorts sips—all from the same wood or metallic straw. Although it is not common in a business atmosphere, it is a normal sign of friendship and sharing in social situations.


Argentina's official language is Spanish, but it is distinctive on the continent because it has been heavily influenced by Italian. Nearly two million Argentineans are bilingual in English, and there are many German and French speakers as well.

Here are a few phrases that may help you in Argentina. A variety of free Spanish-language programs are also offered through the BBC at


Ever since the Argentine economic crisis of 1999 to 2002, most citizens have avoided using their banks as much as possible. Instead, those who have the means send their savings out of the country and convert it into euros or US dollars.


Excerpted from KISS, BOW, OR SHAKE HANDS: SALES AND MARKETING by Terri Morrison Wayne A. Conaway Copyright © 2012 by Terri Morrison. Excerpted by permission of McGraw-Hill. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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