It has been a bit more strange then expected with certain sales initiative, yes each country and culture is different. I try my best to be flexible and adaptive, but selling in china has been interesting to say the least.
First of all, selling in china is difficult by definition. Chinese people are “tighter” with their money (i.e. don’t spend as easily), but hey, maybe that’s why their currently one of the only world economies with cash, so it was worth it – right? But Chinese are savers, they bargain, they look for deals, they shop around.
They also generally don’t like to pay for services, as its not a tangible product, and secondly, they think why can’t they do it themselves internally? That is always the hard sell anywhere in the world – “why should I pay you to do it when I can do it myself?”. But in China, where there are so many people and therefore many job opportunities, why can’t they hire staff to do it internally.
After you convince them, maybe you are an expert in the field, and that you are qualified to do the service you are selling, the next is, who are you, who do you know. This is to see if you known in the community, are a respectable person to do business with. Also, there are many cheaters who will easily take your money and run. I don’t mean to offend my Chinese friends, but I feel they will agree with me here. Do lots of research before making a purchase, and ask around. Contracts are often done for even what may seem like smaller transactions.
After you convince them on (1) your product/ service is worth buying, and (2) you are not going to cheat them, they also move to (3) price! You almost always have to let your price go a bit lower, even a slight discount from your offer and the customer will feel he/she has gotten something. So be ready to lower your price, you want the customer to feel they’ve won a deal and have a special price.
So, selling in China is about FACE! they want to visit your office, meet your staff, see your operations. they look into what your company name is, how long you’ve been in business. I’ve even seen my company name listed in BBS asking if they know who I am and if anyone else has done business with me before. Very interesting things….and…
You have to adapt to the culture in order to succeed
So these are my ideas and feedback in my experience here in China:
1) Have a clear and solid product. Services are harder to sell in China. The technology market is a bit behind USA and therefore customers here aren’t as educated on the internet. You have to go “back to basics”
2) Have a reputation for yourself. Chinese customers are VERY skeptical (yes, well everyone is, but seems Americans are easiest with their cash). In America, people like helping a startup company because the “american cowboy” (As Bas says), and America is a young country that was founded on entrepreneurs. Seems Europe and Asia are more hesitant to give their money to a small startup. They have to have heard about you in the past and through their circle of friends.
3) Be Ready to Bargain. Everyone, all over the world, loves a deal. But in China it seems almost a requirement. I remember a friend, Huck, mentioning to me he always contacts the seller on Tao Bao (Chinese ebay) before making the purchase. 1 reason is to make sure there is actually a person behind the “curtain”, but the other reason is to bargain on price. And to even get a few rmb (50 us cents) will let him purchase one over the other.
I’m not saying I’m an expert in Selling in China (my experience is still in Infancy!) but I want to share some ideas and get some conversation. I need to learn to speak Chinese (really now can order some food and swear at a taxi driver is about all), then I can really engage. But I love the people here, learning from them, and comparing the differences with my homeland of America.