How Chinese Culture Influences Sales

Picture of GAB Team

GAB Team

An Event by the Shanghai Mexican Chamber of Commerce

Sales isn’t the easiest of skills, adding cultural differences into the pitch, can make it even more complicated. Yesterday, the Mexican Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai, brought together a panel of experts, Cameron Johnson, Jeff Seems and Nerea Olabegoya to share their diverse experiences and stories related to this interesting and relevant topic. I learned a number of useful tips and advice, but here are three  takeaways from the insightful panel that are worth remembering when it comes to doing business specifically in China (Chinese Culture):

1. Emphasize Personal Relationships

When developing sales leads in China, the personal relationship between you and your client is more important than relevant previous work experience (although of course it is a factor for winning trust). Developing a personal relationship with your potential client takes time, and patience, and often can’t be done in a meeting room. As Cameron Johnson noted, often times the best place to start is just with a cup of coffee (or tea). Another pro-tip from Cameron, is to always bring a gift for those who you are meeting, it shows respect and care. Mastering the art of gift-giving in China (Chinese Culture) takes a lot of time, and actually deserves its own article.

2. Respect Seniority (Chinese Culture)

Two of the panelists each shared stories about the importance of matching seniority when arranging meetings with potential clients. If the potential client meeting is scheduled with the CEO, then it would be expected for your CEO to also attend the meeting. This shows mutual respect and reinforces the importance of the potential partnership that your companies are entering into. Panelists shared stories about deals falling through due to bringing the wrong people to the potential client meetings.

3. Address “Problems” Indirectly

Jeff gave this practical advice, when meeting with a potential client in China (Chinese Culture), it is best not to ask “What is the problem you are facing?” Instead, asking, “What does your ideal scenario look like?” is a more inviting way to elicit the same information in a way that is more welcoming to Chinese Culture.

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