Chinese New Years is Over. Back to the Grind 😉
As one supplier noted “Your sample is arranged in the first place of all the samples”… This is no small feat, considering when I placed the order the factory workers were on vacation and the assembly line was backed up.
Now how did we become first in line?
The answer is simple, I did the following 3 steps:
- Followed Greg’s guidelines to setting a professional tone from the start.
- Adopted a mindset of insatiable curiosity about Chinese culture
- Used 3 special tools that shattered perceived language barriers.
Here’s more: You too are very close to getting the same level of cooperation from your supplier.
Set the Right Tone From the Outset
The first thing we are going to discuss is the professional tone that you must set. .. this is where most importers mess up. You see, what most importers do is assume the role of “CEO” when emailing a supplier. This is simply Not Cool. The first thing this will signal to your supplier is that you don’t have Purchasing Power.
You should instead tell them you are the Purchasing Agent or any role other than the lead decision maker.
Greg mentioned a benefit that’s overlooked. By assuming the role of a Purchasing Agent, you could blame things on your boss and in return preserve your relationship. “My boss said the price is too high”.
My personal favourite is something like this:
“ Thank you for the quote. Let me send this to my manager. I really hope we get the opportunity to work with each other. I know my manager is speaking with two other suppliers, but I promise to put your quote on the top of the list 😉
And so on.
Here’s a Good Cop Bad Cop Example.. As you can see my Manager is really pushing for that sample!
If you haven’t already, be sure to read the post that details Greg’s approach when first reaching out to a supplier. It’s crucial. It only takes a few seconds to make the right first impression, so write the introductory email as if Jeff Bezos himself was your manager.
Now, naturally your suppliers will begin to think you are the real deal. And you are! You are not just a “one-man-show” but a company that’s ready to offer them an opportunity to export to North America.. That’s huge.
In the early emails you should find the opportunity to tell them your company’s requirements
- We pay 30% upfront so that you may purchase the raw materials necessary for production
- The remaining 70% is paid after Quality Inspection Team determines production has Passed
- If inspection Fails, you will have to pay for the second inspection
Even if you don’t plan on having an inspection, mention this anyway. You will be surprised how much more care they will dedicate to your order just for including this.
Now that you have an organizational structure, you will eventually carve this into your own flair, your own style, and build a business that’s unique to your vision.
Adopt an Open Mindset
If you mess up while communicating with your supplier, it’s not a big deal. Remember, you are the Purchasing Agent, not the Manager. Hopefully this fact allows you to gain some breathing room and not be so hard on yourself.
What’s next is that we dedicate at least an hour a week to read up about the industry and Chinese culture.
These four resources will keep you busy for awhile
- Chinese culture https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/China#Culture
- Chapter 4 This is China
- Destination China: Entrepreneur’s Journey From Wall Street to Business in China (fun and inspiring entrepreneurial success story)
- smartchinasourcing.com – Free in depth articles from industry leaders
From my readings I found out China has 160 million internal migrants …
Can you imagine that? There’s a high probability the Agent you’re communicating with has left their homes, traveled to unfamiliar territory in search for a better life.
Once I began to read more about culture I began to loosen up a bit. The Agent you communicate with is probably a recent graduate that speaks English, is fascinated by Western culture displayed on T.V. and loves every opportunity to chat with an English based Purchasing Agent to improve her or own English Speaking Skills.
As long as you’ve set up a professional tone in the initial emails and protect yourself with the methods described above, you can relax and approach your suppliers agent a little less tense.
Check this out.. After wishing her to have a Nice Weekend in Mandarin, she opens about taking her Drivers License exam..
You can tell how comfortable I am speaking to her. It also seemed that the Agent went out of her way to look out for the order.
When you follow the steps above you will find yourself naturally able to communicate with your agent and this in turn will produce positive results for your bottom line.
Use the Right Tools to Communicate
Now, let’s put this all together.
Did you notice the mandarin translations of words I used such as “Thank you” and “Hello”? You did. Good, then once in awhile incorporate Google Translate into the dialogue you have with your suppliers. It means the world to them, and it will only take a few moments of your time.
The next tool that is pretty savvy is Jing. You want to get into the habit of spoon feeding your agent bite sized information. Don’t consider anything “obvious”.. That’s a word we should all delete. The beauty of Jing is it makes it incredibly simple to capture screenshots and videos.
Lastly, the most exciting tool of them all, WeChat.
This Social Messaging app receives 650 million MAUs (monthly active users) and has taken Asia by storm.
As soon as I determine a supplier is worth moving forward with, I take them off of Email and onto WeChat… Just sending them your WeChat ID sends them a message that you are experienced and ready for business…
I would bet each one of your prospective or current suppliers spend a considerable amount of time messaging and transacting in commerce on WeChat. This Social Messaging app receives 650 million MAUs (monthly active users) I am simply amazed this is not discussed more in our industry.. Skype and Whatsapp are both cool and everything, but with WeChat, it’s almost like you are on their territory. They are hospitable, outgoing, and incredibly quick with communication.
Here are some fun WeChat facts
- combined 280 million minutes a day is spent messaging
- many of the young professionals use WeChat instead of email
- Over 100 million use the messaging app outside of China
When you download WeChat, you can expect your suppliers to
- become more relaxed and less rigid when communicating with you
- have no more frustration with production delays
- stay up to the minute on updates
Sooner or later, you will be communicating and making agreements using nothing but Emoji’s 🙂
So If you are just beginning to establish communication with a prospective supplier or already doing so, be sure to ask them for their WeChat and send them yours. You will be glad you did 🙂
It’s an overlooked Social App in the world of International Trading with China, but it’s a crucial one that will pay off dividends. Thanks to WeChat, we stayed in the minds of our agents during the Chinese New Year Hiatus, and managed to make sure the samples will be completed on time.
All in all, when you set the right tone, adopt an open mindset, and utilize a few tools, you will quickly see that it’s truly a fascinating time to be a part of international trade. The speed at which we can advance is astonishing.
Next post I’ll update you on the progress of the samples, in the meantime let me know in the comments section below what particular challenges you are facing on your personal Quest 🙂
How did you spend your time during Chinese New Years?
Until next time!