Hi! I’ve been living in Spain for almost twenty years. My wife is Spanish, my colleagues are Spanish, my customers are Spanish and by businesses are Spanish. Over these years I think I’ve learned quite a bit about “being Spanish”.
If you want to get into the under-exploited fast-growing Spanish market, you need to know more than just how to speak Spanish. You need to understand Spanish customs, Spanish etiquette and Spanish business culture. Otherwise, you’ll just be another American trying to “sell Spanish”.
One of the biggest differences between American and Spanish cultures is our relationship with money. Let’s face it, as Americans WE LOVE MONEY. We like to make money, we like to spend money and we like to talk about money. Our bookstores are full of guides to making money, and for us a successful business man often is considered a pretty heroic figure.
For the Spanish things are completely different.
In most circumstances talking about money, profits, or prices is considered crass. When there’s a news story in the papers about a company’s yearly profits the Spanish reaction is usually tinged with jealousy or suspicion. The Spanish bank, “Banco Santander” just announced there record-breaking yearly profits and basically everyone thought “They must be genuine thieves. How dare they make so much profit!”
Now don’t get me wrong. Spanish businessmen want to make profits. Just like you, they are ambitious and willing to fight for success. They just don’t talk about it in public. If you’re having a private business conversation, it fine to speak openly about opportunities, results and potential earnings. But if other people are present you should be very careful.
Outside the “business environment” people seldom mention anything of the sort.
If you purchase something, do it in a way where no one sees the price. If you pick up the check, try not to let your guests see how much it cost (pay with a credit card instead of cash). Remember, the problem isn’t having money but being obvious about it. It’s fine to wear a Rolex or designer jeans, just don’t leave the price tag hanging out!