Global Sources invited me to speak to a group of suppliers in Shantou last week. My speech was part of a forum on “export strategies”, designed to broaden the average exporter’s perspectives.
Here is the first part of what I had to tell Chinese suppliers. It addresses the initial sourcing phase.
The importance of the first impression
The initial impression you give to a potential customer is very important. Many buyers think, “If they can’t format their documents properly, what will my products look like?”.
Try to display these three qualities:
- Attention to details
- Quick response
It is not difficult!
Bad habits to avoid
- Using @163.com or @yahoo.com.cn email addresses: unprofessional, but also dangerous for buyers.
- Responding late to inquiries. Use email templates, presentations…
- Sending heavy attachments by email to potential customers.
- Writing quotations in an email. Follow a quotation template that includes specs, incoterm, payment terms…
- Accepting POs that contain terms that don’t match with your PI. Read the PO!
- Saying yes to everything, just to make a sale.
- Promising “we will do our best”: too vague, very easy to disappoint.
- Introducing yourself under one company, and issuing invoices under another company.
- Trying to make friends with the purchasers (except if they are from Sth Europe or Latin America).
- Buying luxury cars while production equipment is old and rusty.
- Five-star reception and showroom, dirty toilets for workers.
Strategy to follow if you are small
Some importers are looking for manufacturers that employ below 400 workers. Don’t try to pretend that you are huge!
Your sales arguments should be as below:
- The owner himself follows each order closely
- We are motivated, we will be responsive
- “Your orders are important to us, we will listen to you”
- Attractive pricing
Strategy to follow if you are big
If you are already a large structure, here are a few arguments that should win you some sales:
- Reference customers
- Organization, quality system (lower risks of quality issues)
- Number of engineers: ability to develop new products
- Familiarity with export market requirements (quality standard, regulations)
- Width of product range
If you are a trading company
If you represent a trading company and you decide to disclose that you don’t own a factory, I can see two strategies that you can follow.
1. You manage production and you report regular status updates
Benefit to the buyer: you reduce his work and his risks. Some importers are looking for this.
2. You get small orders and you place them in small workshops that can’t export directly
Benefit to the buyer: you bring what these workshops are lacking(communication, QC, export paperwork…).
What do you think? Is there something more that Chinese suppliers should be aware of?