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Business Culture

Many Danish companies regard the neighbouring country south of the border as an attractive, expanded domestic market, and there are many good reasons for this: geographical proximity, large market, cultural equality, easy market access and long-term trade relations between Denmark and Germany are just a few.

It may be advantageous to consider the cultural differences between Denmark and Germany when entering into a German working relationship.

In the communication between business associates, the form of appeal is usually You (Sie). This applies not only between representatives of two different companies, but sometimes also among colleagues. Especially between the employee and his or her superior, this distance will be natural. In Berlin start-up environments, one can usually find a younger age average and a more relaxed manner.

The apparel will depend on the type of business, but in Germany business people are generally slightly more formal than in Denmark. For example, the management and (higher) salaried employees will usually wear suits / walking suits. This is especially true for events outside the company. As a Danish business associate, it would therefore be beneficial to consider attire and appearance when meeting in the German business context. This applies both if you meet in Denmark and Germany.

Punctuality and reliability is another German virtue in the business context. You spend energy preparing for a meeting and expect the same from the business relationship. In addition, appointments, meeting agreements and the like, should always be confirmed in writing.

You are expected to be able to communicate in German with German business associates, while English will be your second choice. By telephone inquiries, most people present themselves in business context with their last name.

The Trade Council has developed 5 basic advise for entering and conquering the German market. We call them the 5 Ts.

Adaptation (Tilpasning)

  • German companies can choose between a multitude of products. It is your responsibility that your product fits the German market - not the other way around. Be prepared to adapt your business model, product, packaging, marketing and your service.
  • Be aware of, and adapt your behaviour. Remember the formalities, the good manners and the tie.

Presence (Tilstedeværelse)

  • The German customers should know that you are there - especially when they need it. Remember regular contact, consider setting up a local entity, and react immediately when an order comes in.

Patience (Tålmodighed)

  • Germany is a large and competitive market. The Germans are perceived more thorough and conservative compared to the Danish culture. Therefore it can take time before new suppliers, products and solutions gain acceptance. In return the patience is often awarded with loyal and long lasting customer relations, when you break through and deliver as promised.
  • Further, it is important to remember that Germany consists of 16 states and more than 82 mio. people. It is therefore important, from the beginning, to focus your resources on a region or area.

Timing

  • Be aware of your products' benefits and focus your effort in the areas, where you have a competitive advantage. This accounts to segmentation as well as geographic focus.
  • Trade fairs are big in Germany and it can therefore pay off to focus the initial contact in connection with a fair, where the industry is already gathered.

Speak German (Tal tysk)

  • A predominant rule of thumb: Communicate in German if you want to sell in Germany. Reseach shows that only 2,1 % of working Germans feel comfortable negotiating in German. Thus the language is a parameter, where Danes have a relative competitive advantage and investments in language will pay off.
  • Language, communication and means of communication should be adjusted the recipient. Also regarding marketing it often pays off to get professional assistance for the communication.