How to communicate with Turkish business partners to build long-term relationships
Aida Zaripova, the head of the regional branch of the Russian-Asian Union of Industrialists and Enterprises — on how Turkish businesses use soft power diplomacy
This year, the foreign trade turnover of Turkey and Tatarstan has reached record levels, exceeding the values of the last few years of cooperation. Back in 2022, it increased from $1 billion to $2 billion, and this year it has exceeded $2 billion by the end of nine months. Turkish entrepreneurs are increasingly entering the Russian market, making up huge competition for China, which has filled it. Aida Zaripova, the head of the regional branch of the Russian-Asian Union of Industrialists and Enterprises, owner of the ICC International Certification Centre, told in the author's column for Realnoe Vremya about how to build business relations with Turkish partners and develop joint projects.
“The rule: every Turkish gesture has its own demand”
Turkish entrepreneurs use soft power diplomacy. This means that even when building your first relationship, you will have the opportunity to comprehend the full extent of Turkish hospitality. We know how to fall in love with our culture and build friendly contacts. When this contact is ready and configured, then one can move on to business.
The rule: every Turkish gesture has its own demand. Turkish business diplomacy is at a very high level. To build long-term relationships with partners, you need to have really serious intentions and move immediately to action. If you are just looking around and do not have a clear understanding of what your business cooperation should look like, then the relationship may deteriorate already at the first contact. Thus, after a feast, the partners will expect instant action from you. However, by that time you will have already become friends. And you can't offend your friends.
The entrepreneurial environment in Turkey is based on both small and medium-sized businesses. However, the bulk of production is still concentrated in small businesses. The trade turnover in the country is developing very quickly, because there are not so many full-cycle industries. The B2B sales cycle is developing at a tremendous speed. One product along the chain can be produced from ten different manufacturers at once. However, even the Turks themselves are surprised that entrepreneurs take a long time to make decisions about an order.
Therefore, the price they give is usually valid only for a week. Do you want to be taken seriously? Then study the market. Know the price range, volumes, details and order plan for the whole year. Based on these parameters, you will be given an adequate price.
“We buy the product, and you sell it”
Due to a large competition with China, Turkish enterprises are trying to enter the Russian market independently. Most often, Turks are looking for a local business partner to set up sales.
It is important to understand that the quality standards in certain industries are very different. What some consider to be a premium segment may be quoted as an average one here. Technical requirements, GOST standards, and standards of our republic often also differ. Therefore, the manufacturer needs to adapt his business to our rules. Turkish entrepreneurs often think that sanctions have made it easier to enter the Russian market. However, it is important to immerse the partner in the bureaucratic part so that he intelligently understands how everything works and calculates how competitive his product will be.
When interacting with the Turks, it is important to put all agreements “on paper”. Even if you ideally know Turkish, each participant in the transaction will understand everything in their own way. The ideal Turkish business picture is the following: we buy a product, and you sell it.
“Turks think globally, but actions must be local”
In my opinion, it is possible to check the seriousness of the intentions of a Turkish entrepreneur only when you have set up a company and, having agreed on areas of responsibility, started investing in it together with partners. This is a test of strength, which should show how ready the investor is to develop this business. Turks think globally, but actions must be local.
If you decide to become a distributor of Turkish production, then you need to arrange all the documentation in advance. Turkish manufacturers do not like to limit themselves to one client, and therefore, they are engaged in risk diversification. Therefore, it is necessary to legally consolidate the right of an authorised representative.
Sign the contract of the authorised representative. Next, you will need it for registration of permits, such as certificates and declarations. And the most important thing is to register a trademark!
“Tatarstan has an advantage in building business relations with Turkey”
Do not expect that the work of the Turkish partners will be prompt. This cultural peculiarity extends to all its representatives. But often our consistency, efficiency, and approach to business will be very different. Fixed deadlines for different entrepreneurs will not look like each other.
You just need to be ready for it. Therefore, personal contact is important in this work. You need to know your partners personally and build a trusting relationship with them. No wonder any business meeting in Turkey starts with coffee or tea.
Tatarstan has an advantage in building business relations with Turkey. These are common Turkic roots. Of course, this gives a great advantage in working with partners. The economy in Turkey is constantly changing, so entrepreneurs are primarily high-level sellers. The speed of implementation will be important for them. Entrepreneurs are also productologists. Our people are obsessed with the product. With the synergy of different business cultures, you can learn a lot.
“Foreign entrepreneurs do not have an easy opportunity to explore the market”
To summarise: in the previous year, there has been an active entry of Turkish entrepreneurs into the Russian market. Government support measures are focused on large investors. However, currently there is no one among the government agencies who could deal with foreign small and medium-sized entrepreneurs.
Foreign entrepreneurs do not have an easy opportunity to explore the market. They cannot communicate with the B2B segment and find out about its regulation. Nevertheless, this could be done by placing production facilities in a tax-free special economic zone.
In principle, such opportunities should be cultivated to create a bridge between Turkey and Russia. This will make it easier for foreign investors to enter the Russian market.
The author's opinion may not coincide with the position of the editorial board of Realnoe Vremya.