Negotiation styles in Germany

Written by Byron Boshuizen, Fred Adjei-Kuffuor, Jesse Tol January 2014. Posted in Int. Skills, Negotiations

Negotiation styles in Germany

During negotiations, Germans appreciate facts and evidence of a good product rather than a sales pitch relying on psychological pressure. Not every country accepts the same style of sales. ‘Hard-core sales’, applying psychological pressure to convince the customer to make a quick decision, does not have the same effect in every country. In Germany in particular, it is not a successful way of doing sales. Successful sales strategies in Germany are based on the quality of the product rather than on the style of sales. So to reach an agreement in Germany, it is important to offer a high quality and durable product for a relatively good price. It is also important to offer detailed descriptions as evidence of the quality of the product. For Germans it is important to deliver the requested information, and this information increases the chance of a successful sales strategy. Providing factual evidence and logical reasoning in giving arguments are also helpful.

Tough negotiators
Germans are recognized as tough negotiators because they critically judge the product and price. During negotiations, Germans will seize chances to explore concessions and advantages for bargaining about the price. An example of this critical characteristic is that they estimate the total expected costs. From this expectation, they calculate a relative price, which can then be used in their negotiations on the price of a product or service.
The usual German way to discuss the price of a product or service is via direct and straightforward communication. In Germany this is the effective manner for making concessions. Germans generally will ask some critical questions during a negotiation. This is neither a personal attack nor a sign of disagreement. Instead, it is, in fact, a way of showing interest. Germans will appreciate being given the time to ask some questions and to make some statements about the topic at hand.

Preparing for negotiations
Negotiations in Germany do not always have a usual structure as a problem-solving process. Germans do not refuse the possibility to discuss and talk about some new ideas. If Germans are convinced by an idea, they will most probably like to follow it up too, stimulating the application of this idea.
It is very important to prepare for negotiations with German counterparts. Germans take this as a sign of being serious about the business at hand. It is best if the team is well-prepared and informed on the details of the product or service as a German counterpart may ask many things when it concerns the first negotiations. This can be seen often as testing the other party. If the German side is satisfied by the way negotiations are going, and their expectations about the product are fulfilled, they tend to commission more business (Lewis, 2006).

Emotional techniques
A calm and pragmatic attitude while negotiating is the most effective way of doing business in Germany. Being emotionally extrovert will not be accepted that easily and could impact the business relationship. As previously mentioned, Germans do not appreciate deviating from the subject because ‘it takes time and it isn’t relevant at the moment’. So while doing business with Germans it is important to be frank and direct.

Negotiations are taken very seriously in Germany. In a relatively early stage, negotiators will consult a lawyer. A reason for this is the fact that oral commitments are legally binding in Germany (Nees, 2000).