Doing business in Germany

How well you know our European partners

In recent blog we discussed the cultural nuances for doing business in Argentina. Today, we’ll touch on a much closer business partner – Germany.

German economy is the strongest in European Union and has a great influence on the Euro zone. Therefore, it might be a good idea to touch on few pointers just in case you might be planning to do business in Germany.

The official language is German language, and to be more specific High German (Hochdeutsch). The other version is low German (Plattdeutch) which was mainly used in low-lying regions of the Northern part of the country. German is also used in Switzerland and that variation is known as Swiss German.

Many Germans have a very good command of English language, and it is often acceptable to conduct meetings in English. However, for attracting the widest possible audience your marketing collateral and user guides should be translated into German.

However, even though the Germans operate very good business English, they remain true to their culture. They are very direct and will tell you if they think your business or product is not to the expected standard. Also, the negotiation process is quite slow due to the decision making process being very methodical. It is often said that Germans are known for their precision and high standards, and this is reflected in their negotiations as well. Therefore, the new product roll-out, or changing a supplier is always planned in great detail, and leads to long timeframes for negotiation part of the deal.

Moreover, exaggeration is generally disliked in business environment. Therefore, you need to be careful with how you sell your offering and ensure you have the data to support your claims. Using case studies and examples of your work are very helpful and have the best effect in securing the deal. The more data you can provide the better as Germans prefer making decisions based on factual information and tend to distance themselves emotionally from business decisions.

It is also hugely important to be on time. Even arriving four or five minutes late will be insulting to your German counterpart, especially if you are coming to the meeting with the intention of selling. Therefore, be careful when scheduling in appointments and double check the time for the meeting. Linguistically use of half-hour is different in Germany than in the UK. For example, many Germans mean 9.30 when they say ‘half-ten’; whereas in the UK we would say ‘half-nine’. It might be best to confirm the time in writing to avoid any misunderstandings.

Don’t hesitate to get in touch if you might have German translation, or any other linguistic requirement…

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