Business Lessons from Brazil

by | Oct 14, 2015 | Sales Motiviation


By Jeff Beals

It’s a land of contrasts.

That’s what I was told about Brazil before embarking on a business trip last week where I spoke to three audiences over a two-day period.  My client was Sao Paulo-based Febracorp University, which was conducting a conference for sales leaders from major corporations. Febracorp is an amazing company – visionary, high-energy and full of dedicated professionals.

I landed in Sao Paulo Thursday morning and then started a two-hour drive across the city to the hotel. Like all mega cities, Sao Paulo is home to the best of the best and the worst of the worst. As we passed through various neighborhoods, I noticed a city full of frenetic commercial activity interspersed with poverty.  On one side of the street, I would see the offices of a multi-national corporation; on the other side, ramshackle residential units.

I couldn’t help but notice how residents of Sao Paulo embraced technology. Everyone appeared to be maximizing the capabilities of personal electronics. In fact, Sao Paulistanos seemed to be more engaged with their personal communication technologies than their counterparts in major U.S. cities.

Indeed Brazil is a land of contrasts.

A few years ago, Brazil was riding high as economic growth reached 7.5 percent in 2010. But following that big economic boom, Brazil now finds itself in its worst recession in three decades.  Inflation is nearly 10 percent. Unemployment has been on the rise.

Many of the sales leaders who attended my programs last week talked to me about the impact the recession was having on their businesses.  It is a front-of-mind, deep concern for business leaders as consumers are not buying and businesses are not investing like they once did.  As you might expect, the recession is having a direct and tangible impact on the way companies do business.

During my conversations with several sales execs during breaks and at the end of my presentations, I got the sense that most companies are coping with the economic conditions as best they can.  People are working harder. (I noticed professionals in Sao Paulo work long hours), and companies are clamping down on spending.

The most interesting adaptation, however, is that sales and marketing professionals are looking for creative ideas that attract business without requiring major investment. Guerrilla marketing and grass-roots sales activities appear to be as popular as ever in Brazil at least according to the people I met.

I find that fascinating, because I have always thought companies and organizations get the biggest bang for their buck when they promote themselves creatively, actively and zealously at the grass-roots level.

Some countries are currently experiencing recession. Other countries are currently in an expansion mode. But one thing is for sure: economic conditions change. Up-cycles become down-cycles and vice versa.  Whether or not you are working in expansionary conditions, it probably makes sense to keep much of your promotional efforts at the grass-roots level.

Regardless of external marketing conditions, it makes sense to go back to the basics when marketing, promoting or developing business.  The same thing applies to individual professionals too.  We all need to constantly promote ourselves personally at the grassroots level.

Frankly, we should all work like it’s a recession even when times are good.  That’s easier said than done but is in our best interests. After all, just like Brazil, the whole world is a land of contrasts.

Jeff Beals is a professional speaker, sales consultant and award-winning author, who helps professionals enjoy greater success through effective sales, marketing and personal branding techniques. He delivers energetic and humorous keynote speeches and workshops to audiences worldwide. To discuss booking a presentation, go to or email at or call us at (402) 637-9300.

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Jeff Beals helps you find better prospects, close more deals and capture greater market share. He is an international award-winning author, sought-after keynote speaker, and accomplished sales consultant. He delivers compelling speeches and sales-training workshops worldwide. He has spoken in 5 countries and 41 states. A frequent media guest, Jeff has been featured in Investor’s Business Daily, USA Today, Men’s Health, Chicago Tribune and The New York Times.

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