Selling around the world

Selling in China - 3 success factors

There are quite a few things to consider if you want to successfully sell in China. In a country where personal relationship values often outrank the strictly professional ones, it is even more important to be familiar with your partners’ communication and expectations. Also, in China you have to pay particular attention to detail when it comes to the words you choose, and also to the social hierarchy. Check out these three basic tips for successfully selling in China!

selling in china
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1 – Focus on the personal relationships

China is a very relationship-oriented country, which means that personal relationships rank higher than the professional goals in themselves. It is also a highly collectivistic culture, so you have to be aware that the good and the interest of the group is no questions asked more important than those of the individual. This means that if you want to expand your business in China, you have to be willing to allocate time – often a lot of time – to building strong relationships. Don’t expect to just go there on a meeting and sell your product straight away. Business dinners, going out for drinks or various “off-the-record” activities with your (potential) partners are about building trust and getting to know each other, and you must not hurry with this. Consider it as an investment, but this time it’s not your money, but your time and attention that you put in.

2 – Present your achievements

But don’t forget to thoroughly present yourself professionally. The Chinese respect achievement and hard work, so be very precise and thorough in telling your partners who you are professionally. Present your company, your goals and achievements, and be self-confident about it. You don’t have to be shy, but being humble will definitely help. Be respectful, but talk about your professional expertise.

3 – Read between the lines

This goes both ways: read between the lines when listening, and carefully choose your words when talking. If you are used to a very straightforward, direct communication, it’s time to learn the other way as well. In China people tend to communicate evasively, and you have to listen carefully, if you want to understand what means no – because yes is easier to pick up. The Chinese will wrap their rejection in softer words and phrases, precisely because the personal relationship is so important to them and they don’t want to offend. Listen carefully and ask questions, so you understand your partners correctly. Whereas when it’s your turn to talk, be careful and polite in choosing your words.

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