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Selling B2B services to Chinese

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aisin

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Hi guys!

I'm launching a new business which is going to offer a very specialized online service, tailored mainly for Chinese business people. This is not a physical product they can just buy online. Each order has to be personalized for the needs of a particular customer.

Do you guys have any recommendations based on your experience how to successfully reach the Chinese companies and draw their attention to my offer? What should work the best? E-mail marketing seems to be the easiest way to go with, but doing this while not being considered as spam is very difficult.
What else? Cold calling? Whatsapp/wechat messaging?

Any suggestions would be highly appreciated!

Many thanks & BR,
Simon
 

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Roli

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A friend of mine is doing exactly this at the moment, from talking to him quite extensively I've gleaned a few things.

- Go to your country's government-run business portal, in the UK it is the Department Of Trade & Industry, through there you will be able to get direct advice and get a chance to meet the Chinese business liaison.

- The Chinese trade guy will get you to download weChat which all Chinese use. Do not communicate with anyone but him on this app, as it is spied on by the Chinese government. (This might sound a bit James Bond, however every time my friend speaks to the Chinese govt guy, he gets weird clicking on his phone, it seems they bug people as a matter of course over there).

- The Chinese govt actively encourage intellectual property theft, so be careful about giving out samples (though with your product this might not be relevant).

- Things take a long time, apparently they have turned bureaucracy into an art form so be patient.

- Their enthusiasm for new products can often lead you to believing you're a lot farther down the road with them than you really are. They will often be agreeable with you just so they can save face, especially if they don't fully understand what you're offering, so be clear and concise at all times.

It's great you have a product for them, it's a huge market and they seem to be very responsive to foreign imports of all kinds. If you have any other more specific questions I'll be happy to ask my friend. He has been working on his project for 12 months and is now just another 6-10 weeks away from launching.

Good luck!
 

Longinus

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Take a trip to China.

Do sales in person.

The Chinese are very receptive to foreigners face to face.

This for sure, you must try to understand how they think. Because it's totally different from ours.

WeChat is important here. Even more important than a website. But I guess you can find good resources on the internet.
 

ZF Lee

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Take a trip to China.

Do sales in person.

The Chinese are very receptive to foreigners face to face.
Don't forget there's a Chinese market in Southeast Asia, Hong Kong and small enclaves all over the world. :)

WeChat is important here. Even more important than a website. But I guess you can find good resources on the internet.
On a side note, you can store some money on your WeChat after opening a renmimbi account, and give 'Red Packets' to the folks on your list. Pretty fun!
 

Longinus

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On a side note, you can store some money on your WeChat after opening a renmimbi account, and give 'Red Packets' to the folks on your list. Pretty fun!

Can you do that as a non-Chinese person as well? Because traveling in China is pretty inconvenient if you can't pay with WeChat.
 

ZF Lee

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Can you do that as a non-Chinese person as well? Because traveling in China is pretty inconvenient if you can't pay with WeChat.
Yes.

My dad travels a bit to China, so he had a contact arrange some bank stuff for him. I know the Red Packet thing because I saw him do it in Malaysia here.

IMO, if you can find a bank chain that is friendly with China, and you can send dough over, should be possible.
 

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ZF Lee

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My dad travels a bit to China, so he had a contact arrange some bank stuff for him. I know the Red Packet thing because I saw him do it in Malaysia here.

IMO, if you can find a bank chain that is friendly with China, and you can send dough over, should be possible.
Ah, in line with what I learned. Good Quora answer to finish up the gaps.

Thanks for the add-in.
 

SquatchMan

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- Their enthusiasm for new products can often lead you to believing you're a lot farther down the road with them than you really are. They will often be agreeable with you just so they can save face, especially if they don't fully understand what you're offering, so be clear and concise at all times.

This is huge when dealing with East Asians.

@Walter Hay has said that "yes" from a Chinese person can mean yes, maybe, or no. That's really the best way to describe them. They'll rarely ever straight up reject you like Americans or Europeans.
 

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aisin

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- Go to your country's government-run business portal, in the UK it is the Department Of Trade & Industry, through there you will be able to get direct advice and get a chance to meet the Chinese business liaison.

- The Chinese trade guy will get you to download weChat which all Chinese use. Do not communicate with anyone but him on this app, as it is spied on by the Chinese government. (This might sound a bit James Bond, however every time my friend speaks to the Chinese govt guy, he gets weird clicking on his phone, it seems they bug people as a matter of course over there).

On a side note, you can store some money on your WeChat after opening a renmimbi account, and give 'Red Packets' to the folks on your list. Pretty fun!

Those are really great ideas! To be honest, I live in a country where government doesn't have a reputation of being helpful, but I definitely need to check the trade departments. Maybe this is the place where I can find some advice, or even contacts.

I need to get into the WeChat thing too. I'm afraid that it needs a good knowledge of Chinese language to be fully useful - would you agree with that?

I have already tried some cold mailing to potential customers (Chinese companies suiting my target group), but no replies yet - I have only noticed some visitors on my website coming from China. I'm not sure how Chinese people react to such kind of messages, and also I'm afraid that my mails are going straight into spam folder.

Thank you so much all of you guys for your kind advice! :)
 

Longinus

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I need to get into the WeChat thing too. I'm afraid that it needs a good knowledge of Chinese language to be fully useful - would you agree with that?

No, there's a (funny) English version of WeChat.

Also, I think Chinese people are the most helpful people I have ever encountered in my life. We westerners have a totally wrong image of them. I'm pretty sure you can find Chinese guys on Fiverr that are able to help you for a quick buck.
 

Roli

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I definitely need to check the trade departments. Maybe this is the place where I can find some advice, or even contacts.

Yesterday I was trying to remember the correct term, it is the Chinese Chamber of Commerce. I'm pretty sure they'll have one of these in every developed country around the world.

Also another little fun tip for you:

Last year I decided to learn Chinese Mandarin just for the hell of it, and I found a really good Android app (not sure if it's on iphone) called Hello Chinese. I'm telling you, the reaction I get from Chinese people when I say a few phrases is phenomenal!

They are just so unused to anyone outside of Asia speaking their language, so just a tiny bit of effort on your part will go a very long way!

Plus you'll delight all your friends too as you muddle your way through Mandarin :)
 

HackVenture

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I think finding a bilingual partner based in China would be very useful, especially if it's a high ticket item.
 

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