As much as traveling broadens the horizons, in most cases, it isn’t enough to run a business in a foreign country. There are many ways to gather information specific to a given culture and customs and one of them is simply absorbing information from the locals. So here’s a brief summary about Poles from Poles dedicated to non-Poles.
You can (almost) forget about cash
70% of Poles choose cashless transactions (credit and debit cards, smartwatches, and BLIK) when shopping offline.
Even street flower sellers have payment terminals so you can pretty much forget about carrying cash in your wallet. On the other hand, when it comes to online shopping – COA (cash on arrival) is still a popular choice of payment (41%) – though behind quick money transfers (70%) and mobile payments (48%), as mentioned in the “E-commerce w Polsce 2021” report prepared by Gemius.
What’s more important for B2B relations is that Polish authorities keep introducing new laws and regulations that significantly limit cash usage. Starting in 2024, the highest single cash transaction between trading partners cannot exceed 8 000 PLN.
If you plan to employ staff, you need to know that the default way of paying salaries to your team is via bank transfer.
Using Polish is a must
Although more and more Poles are fluent in English, only 30% claim to easily communicate in everyday situations in English. With this in mind, one of your top priorities, when entering the Polish market, should be focusing on the language.
Properly translating your website, sales and marketing materials, user guides, and your software interface is key to attracting users and convincing them to become your customers. Remember that it is not just the translation that matters, but also the context – prepare examples, comparisons, and descriptions in such a way that they will be understood straight away by Polish readers.
Polish-speaking customer care is also a must. Even in the very early stages of your service/product development. Consider cooperating with a reliable partner who will help you with hiring your first team members in Poland. It can be a recruitment agency, a consulting company, or a freelancer with a vast network in your industry.
It’s not all about Warsaw
Warsaw is the biggest and the most populous city in Poland and hosts the headquarters of key institutions, as well as many Polish and foreign companies. However, don’t be deceived by appearances – less than 5% of Poland’s population lives in the capital.
There are several large cities (Poznań, Gdańsk, Wrocław, Kraków, Łódź, Szczecin, Katowice) that play important roles in the Polish business environment, very often offering a high level of service that supports foreign investors.
What’s worth noting is that there are 14 Special Economic Zones (SEZ) across Poland where investors can count on additional support and tax benefits. You can definitely reach new clients there – in medium-sized cities and towns.
Social proof or it didn’t happen
Do not underestimate the importance of customer reviews, testimonials, and references. Many B2B customers consider it as one of the most important factors when starting cooperation. In some cases, it will be extremely difficult to start any business discussions without valid industry references. If you plan to work with the public sector and partake in the tenders, you will be obligated to present a number of documents as well as reference letters from previous customers.
On the other hand, based on my observations and experience, I can say that Polish customers appreciate international experience and foreign products. You can use interesting case studies and examples of previous projects to prove your expertise. Especially, if it concerns markets perceived in Poland as being highly developed – like the EU, UK, or North America.
And don’t forget about LinkedIn. In 2022, the number of LinkedIn users in Poland amounts to more than 5 million. More than 20% of them are business decision-makers (CEO, owners, directors, etc.) who can check your credibility in just a few clicks.
The cheap labor market belongs in the past
Although average salaries in Poland are still lower than the ones in the “old” European Union countries, Poland is no longer a country with a cheap workforce. Higher education is public and entirely subsidized by the Polish government, which means that the labor force consists of many graduates who intend to earn according to their education and experience.
With one of the lowest unemployment rates in the EU, a high demand for well-qualified employees, and the widening possibilities of working remotely, the Polish job market is very competitive in terms of finding appropriate employees despite the mounting global economic difficulties.
If you intend to hire IT or engineering specialists, be prepared for rates that do not differ significantly from those in Western Europe. At Casbeg, we help companies with recruitment – we also have experience with the most demanding roles like hiring C-level professionals. You can read more about our results here.
Quick and patient at the same time
If your offering is dedicated to B2B clients, Polish entrepreneurs will expect you to be quick in terms of setting up meetings and submitting your proposals. Be sure to serve your leads as quickly as possible and act flexibly in terms of dates. Timing is not the only thing to master as the content of the sales proposal is equally important. Check if your materials consider these necessary elements.
On the other hand, after your offer hits the decision makers’ desktops, the waiting time for a response may be extremely long. It often means that your proposal was rejected, or the decision is being postponed indefinitely.
However, that doesn’t have to be the case. An actual lack of time and managers buried in their current tasks often make it impossible for them to analyze your offer. Setting up deadlines, the next steps, and using follow-ups may draw you closer to getting the deal.
With that in mind, there is another feature of the Polish market that you need to know about…
Surprisingly, many companies, even quite large ones, are still managed directly by the owner. While it is changing with the younger generation of entrepreneurs taking over, it is still common that the president/owner decides not only about the most important matters regarding the business but is deeply involved in the operational decisions.
This creates a very high workload and range of responsibility for the owner and oftentimes slows down the decision-making process. If you come across such an organization, the best way to close the deal is to meet the president (no matter the cost) and show them the real value of your solution.
Looking for a trusted business partner?
Casbeg provides support in marketing, sales, and management. If you feel overwhelmed with developing a company on your own, let us know and we will see how we can help.
With 5 years on the market, we have gathered hundreds of testimonials, completed more than 380 projects, and built a team of seasoned professionals. Casbeg is where experience meets execution.