A short trip to Shanghai is used to evaluate the situation of the country. Whichever direction you look, your eyes fall on the cranes. The construction of skyscrapers are everywhere and they are gradually replacing traditional houses with two or three floors. They say that if you come to Shanghai once a year, you will not recognize the scenery from a visit to another.
The emergence of China is accompanied by the emergence of quality of life. There is now a very large middle class in large cities with a high purchasing power.
In the industrial point of view, Chinese companies are being developed. World-class companies emerge and compete with their American or European.
Between novelty and tradition
But paradoxically, China is a traditional country in its approach to trade. Deeply rooted in an ancient culture, the Chinese market is a difficult market to penetrate for a foreign company.
Trade in China can only be done by relationships. You have to be properly introduced by an intermediary with the people you want to meet. It is unthinkable, for example, picking up the phone and call a company to try to present your products. This practice is seen as provocative, even offensive, and certainly contrary to the conventions and traditions. Doing so you will close many doors.
It seems unthinkable for a European or an American, accustomed to a market economy. Pick up the phone and call a potential customer is a form of sales completely normal. A CEO can call the CEO of another company to discuss synergies between the two companies. Not in China. Certainly not.
You should also remember that Chinese society is hierarchical and age is a predominant factor. In a company the oldest person is usually the person of highest rank.
Many companies have broken teeth on the Chinese market, either through ignorance of local customs or traditions thought to change with business development. But those who know the more successful are those who manage to adapt to Chinese culture, to melt into the mold.
A sales representative is essential
No way to call a potential customer. How so? Find a local sales representative. He alone will find the connections needed to be properly introduced to potential clients.
When you call a sales representative, make sure it is well established in the industry in which you want to sell. Use an experienced person, who already have an address book full. A sales representative who worked in your industry, or who already represents other companies in your area, or who worked at one of your local competitors will be the best agent possible.
Age is also important, make sure your sales representative is old enough to be respected. A representative who is under 40 years will in most cases less respected and listened.