- Meetings generally involve a fair amount of formality, although people may relax with business partners they know well.
- Arrive on time. However, accept that there may be periods of time when you are kept waiting.
- Often Turks will not hand out a business card unless they are confident that they want to establish a business relationship. Therefore, if you are not given one, take it as a good indication that they are not interested.
- Expect to be served Turkish tea or coffee during a meeting. Refreshments generally accompany all conversation.
- You may find that the discussion wanders to different topics for a while before people start mentioning the point at hand. Allow social conversation to precede any serious talk of business. It is considered rude to hurry people to get to the purpose of the meeting.
- If the meeting is one of the first between business associates, expect its purpose to be about getting acquainted. A decision is unlikely to be reached in initial conversations.
- When presenting your proposal, keep it clear, well-presented and concise. It is a good idea to complement information with visual examples (e.g. graphs, maps, diagrams) as Turks often communicate most effectively visually and orally.
- Try to emphasise the benefit for both businesses and the profitability of the partnership. Sometimes the angle of the financial benefit for both parties is not always the winning sell. The potential prestige, influence and power it may bring can also be an incentive.
- Expect the decision-making process to be drawn out. It is likely that the person you will have initially met and negotiated with is one of the more subordinate members of the company. As you gain esteem in their eyes, you’ll find negotiations move on to the more senior members before a decision is made by the manager/head of the company. Try to accept any delays in this process with patience.
Many Turkish businesses are family-owned andis common. Globalisation has introduced multinational company dynamics to the country. However, the business culture is still very personal. Your success will largely rest upon your ability to build effective relationships. The Turkish generally only want to do business with those they feel comfortable enough with to trust. If you are too impersonal or guarded, they may view you with suspicion and be reluctant to follow through with you.
Consider that negotiations often have the goal of a long business relationship in mind. Therefore, avoid applying time pressures like an expiring offer. You are expected to approach any deal as if it will be one of many to come out of a fruitful relationship. It is best to emphasise a win-win scenario and maintain a positive attitude throughout.
Turks enjoy bargaining during deals and may be offended if you refuse to engage in it. There is a general belief in the Turkish business culture that the first person to quote a price will wind up on the lower end of the deal and initial prices should never be accepted. Therefore, they may push to wait for you to be the first to offer a figure and reject it immediately.
Before entering into any negotiations, decide on your bottom-line figure. Turks can be tactical in posing extreme scenarios, offers or compromises to discern your response. Prices commonly move by up to 40% between initial offers and final decisions during the negotiating process, so make sure you are prepared with multiple offers that work over percentages of this figure. Have a target in mind before entering the meeting and slowly work towards it by granting concessions that are reasonable. When doing so, phrase it as if you are doing them a favour by being lenient because you personally respect/like them.
They may tactically pretend to be uninterested in the deal altogether so you feel the need to persuade them. You will reduce their bargaining power significantly if you show that you are legitimately prepared to cut your losses and leave the deal if it is a bad one. Consider that a Turkish person may feel that they have the upper hand if you are the one who travelled for a meeting. They know people don’t like to leave a journey empty-handed.
Avoid using the threat of tight deadlines or high-pressure tactics. The Turkish can reverse the pressure by conceding that they can’t meet your demands and threaten to cancel the deal altogether. It is also unwise to start with your best offer to pressure them.
- People within a business may address each other by their literal rank within the company (e.g. "Mr Manager" – "Mudur Bey").
- Avoid scheduling meetings during Ramadan or the Turkish summer (July/August).
- Be aware meetings will be paused if they interrupt prayer time. Therefore, it is usually best to make appointments in the morning before the midday prayer or after lunch.
- Once a solid relationship has been established, is preferable. Try to make phone calls when possible as emails are often responded to slowly.
- Gift giving is not a traditional custom in Turkish business culture. To make forthcoming gestures of friendship, Turks tend to take business associates out for meals instead. It is impolite to decline a gesture to dine out.
- Turks tend not to boast of their achievements. Therefore, it can be easy to underestimate people. It is good to ask for a list of references to discern people’s background.
- On the Corruption Perception Index (2018), Turkey ranks 78th out of 180 countries, receiving a score of 41 (on a scale from 0 to 100). This perception suggests that the country’s public sector has a moderate level of corruption.