China, as a business powerhouse, offer foreign companies great opportunities to enter China market. However, there exist nuanced differences in Chinese business culture, and they make your business in China a long and sometimes tough climb. Before you seize the opportunities China has to offer you, learn some tactics about doing business with Chinese to overcome the possible obstacles and increase the effectiveness of your business in China.
Here are some tactics for you to keep in mind from the start when doing business with Chinese, which can make your Chinese business go smoothly.
1. Understand expectations and non-verbal messages of your partner
Communicate when your deliverables will be ready and what the Chinese company expects in actual sales over some predetermined period. The Chinese are accustomed to living in a business world of grey area, and you need to be as explicit as possible. If the Chinese company hesitates in giving out that information, offer some scenarios and gauge their reaction in order to better understand their real expectations.
Remember that just because Chinese businesspeople may nod when you are talking, it doesn’t mean they are agreeing with your points. They are only acknowledging that words are coming out of your mouth. Foreigners can be easily confused by that.
2. Ensure efficiency
While it takes time to build a relationship based on trust and understanding, do not expect as much patience when it comes to delivering results. Actually, Chinese businesspeople are in a hurry to make it and make it big. If the rewards are not substantial or they take too long to materialize, your company is likely to be dropped like a bad habit. If it takes a year or more to arrange a deal with foreign partners, the Chinese would show impatience and frustration.
3. Receive payment for all or part of your service at the outset
This isn’t because you won’t get paid. (Although that happens in China just like it does everywhere else.) But payment acknowledges commitment on the part of the Chinese company to do business with your company. It is acceptable to provide some level of service in advance without payment to demonstrate capability and capacity, but be mindful of how much you give away.
4. Try to use Mandarin
Many Chinese businesspeople under 40 are functional in English. However, most are decidedly more comfortable in Mandarin. If you want more honest and thorough explanations, you will find that happens in Mandarin much more than in English. Chinese people are flattered when you compliment their English skills, but when you dig deeper they do not appear to understand as much English as one might think. Be careful about translation services—there are many nuances that you need to be mindful of to have the right tone in your communication. For instance, you must appear supremely confident and communicate that you expect to be working with them. In the West, that could appear presumptuous. In China, it is both necessary and a good show of confidence in your abilities.
5. Visit China and have a local presence if possible
Open a small office if you can. Having a presence in China does not have to be a colossal expense, but showing your commitment goes a long way in gaining the confidence of those you are trying to engage (or are engaged with already).
Related reading: 6 Priorities for Successfully Entering Chinese Retail Market