So you sent a request for quotation to 20 suppliers, and only 5 have responded? Or you have placed an order and production is supposed to be under way, but your contact does not respond to your demands for updates?
It should not be surprising. If you want to know why, you can read Why Chinese Don’t Reply To Many Emails…, on Mike Michelini’s blog.
I reproduced some excerpts below:
Demand to do business with China – come on, we see it in the news, I log into my finance news every day, and one of the top 5 headlines always has something about China in it. So what does this create, everyone in the west banging on China’s doors to buy something, to have some kind of “bragging right” to have at the cocktail parties that they are entering the China market. And what does this create, a lot of unnecessary emails into tons of alibaba factory directory accounts. I have looked at the “CRM” of factories…its exploding with tons of emails from all over the world of people who want to buy from them….and maybe 1% of them are serious, and 0.1% will choose this factory out of the others…..so therefore creating tons of emails in these Chinese businessman’s boxes to sift through, humanly impossible to reply to.
Timezone difference…..arriving to office with avalanche of emails….especially if you deal with USA business….their day is your night…and you come to your desk at 8 or 9am…and all those emails come flooding in…..a bit overwhelming to say the least.
Lack of management and organizational skills in Chinese educational system – What I and my fellow classmates in school used to call a waste of time, certain soft skill classes about email management, time management, people management was actually helpful. From my exposure here in China, I do not believe their educational system includes such material as these we have in the Western world. Therefore, the new graduate in school is exposed to a workworld where probably if they are doing international sales will be dealing with emails….and they probably never knew how to handle it!
Prefer face to face business talk – This is in tons of Chinese business books, but it is true, Chinese people really prefer to do business face to face. And to build a relationship with the person. If there isn’t that feeling of trust, as well as maybe knowing the counterparty’s family, friends, and social network diversity…they may hesitate to do business. And an email is COLD….its really hard to put feeling and passion into an email….so many times I believe I am probably misunderstood in an email by my wording, cultural tone, “American directness”.
Next step is phone – Maybe the below point (QQ chat) is becoming more popular, depends on generation….but again, because of feeling, tone, personality, trust, hearing a voice, as well as instant gratification of a phone call makes the Chinese business world go around. So many times I’ll get a call, day or night, with a request to have a rather last minute meeting that is urgent or not possible for the foreseeable future….making daily scheduling and planning almost a joke. Yet, the phone is the modern “business weapon” of the Chinese wild-wild-west….its a tool one cannot live without.
and next step is QQ chat This is a daily necessity to doing business in China….its always right next to the mobile number, you have QQ groups and QQ IDs….both personal and business…file transfers, funny cartoon animations, screenshot sharing….China would seriously be in trouble if QQ web servers were to go down…I’m sure this has been a huge key to efficiency in Chinese business.
Internet isn’t always so reliable – due to filtering, and basic infrastructure limitations, especially inland china where power outages are mandatory, sometimes emails just lag behind…
I totally agree.
What do you think?