World famous pretzels Auntie Anne’s had to rename one of its delightful pretzel variants before it got a Halal certification for a franchise in Malaysia. This is a strict requirement for investors in Malaysia before they can market and sell their brands, more so to be more aware of the race’s sensitivities to adhere to and respect the Islamic belief and practices, and one of those is renaming foreign products by making them sound more Muslim-ish.
From Pretzel Dog to Pretzel Sausage – what’s the difference between the two by the way?
Getting a business tie-up with Malaysians may not be as fast and easy as the other Asian counterparts. If you’re an outsider who aims to expand business in Malaysia or somebody offering partnership to Malaysian entrepreneurs to invest in your business you have to know some very important SOPs before you can lure them to invest on your business. Here are some insights that can help:
#1: Get to know them better before you can get them interested to join up.
Malaysia, although mostly (50-55%) are Malays, is basically a society of converged races: Indians, Chinese and Europeans who brought their respective cultures and customs to the Malay Peninsula, which opened Trade to merchants and investors. The Malays’ openability brought about change in its focus from agrarian to a fused economy of investments and privatization that continuously thrive on major industries like tin, rubber, palm oil, timber, oil, textiles and electronics.
Malaysians are open to opportunities, but before discussing about your business with them build rapport by asking them some simple personal questions like “how are you” or “were you able to attend the IT event”. Earn their trust for better effectiveness. These type of questions are likely welcomed by them not like some other western counterparts where personal questions on rapport building is a big NO.
#2: Be like them, respect and adhere to their norms.
The Malaysian society is, in many ways, very traditional. They value “respect” especially for elders and such character is prevalent even on how they do business. Below are some do’s and don’ts for personal meetings:
- Be at your best business suit when meeting with them.
- Handshakes is mostly done by men; as for women wait for them to initiate the action.
- Exude politeness both in words and actions.
- When exchanging business cards, receive with both hands
- Most suitable business gifts would be a pen or notepad with a company logo, others may be perceived as bribe.
#3: Perfect their timing, observe their Holy days.
Although Malaysia has western influence, before you set a business appointment or call them, double check on which part of the peninsula is your prospect located.
Parts of the country that follow an Islamic work schedule are Kelantan, Terangganu, Perlis, Kedah and Kohor. Don’t be surprised if you get voicemails and auto replies when you call or email prospects on these days in the said areas.
- Thursday – half day
- Friday – holiday (Islamic holy day)
Sabah, Sarawak, Federal Territory, Pahang, Negri Sembilan, Perak, Penang, Malacca and Selangor mostly follow wester concept work schedule with weekdays off.
#4: Do business their way
- Malaysian prospects often conduct business negotiations longer and quite detailed. Be prepared with collaterals and references which at most of the time they may request along the process.
- You may communicate with them in English both in speaking and writing but patterned to be simple, short and in most polite manner. Malaysians may be warmth and open to strangers in their land but remain loyal to their culture and traditions. Such characteristic is evident in their content in speaking their native language, Bahasa over other foreign languages.
- According to a research conducted by GlobalWebIndex, Malaysians are among the five races (Filipinos, Thai, Vietnamese and Indonesians) with the highest internet usage at an average of 5 hours per day. tweet this! This is a good reference factor to be able to connect with Malaysian leads via social networking sites but still, you have to keep all your actions and comments, in the most polite and respectful manner.
Getting prospects to invest on your business takes a process, but for your Malaysian counterparts it is most likely to be longer and more detailed: Get to know them to get them interested to join up, Be like them by respecting their norms to gain their trust, perfect their timing and do business their way. Thus, you will definitely not just lure them to invest on your business but build a long-term business relationship.
Final tip: Don’t bother yourself much about Pretzel Dog and Pretzel Sausage, what’s important is that you sold them fresh and delicious to make your Malaysian customers happy.
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