Myths in Business-to-Business Marketing to Chinese Businesses

Please share!

`

Many western companies are unable to effectively market their brand to local Chinese consumers or adapt business approaches to fit local preferences. Best Buy just recently announced that they will be selling its Five Star business to the Jiayuan Group, a prominent China-based real estate firm led by Chairman Yuxing Shen. Considering how difficult it is for highly successful firms to penetrate China’s economic market, the task is even more daunting for U.S business-to-business firms looking to supply Chinese businesses with their products or service. Marketing and Selling to Chinese Businesses is an online article aimed at dispel some of the myths propagated about Chinese business, and explore the reasons behind both successful and unsuccessful marketing and sales approaches in China. Although many foreign organizations are retreating from China, there is no reason why a company with a flexible, patient and ‘listening’ approach to marketing and sales should not succeed in the Chinese market.

For example, Chinese organizations in contrast to some Western markets, the salesperson and more broadly the principle of selling are more widely respected in China. Two issues perhaps lie at the core of this fact: firstly, the entrepreneurial spirit of the Chinese people, and secondly the great importance placed on relationships in business decision-making. A good salesman must be adept at forging not only relationships, but also friendships with potential customers. The importance of relationship-building tends to imply a long sales process, requiring of salespeople patience, continual learning and an on-the-ground presence. Given these attributes many businesses in China don’t focus very much on marketing to other businesses and truly only focus on one P; promotion.  Next, the salesperson and more broadly the principle of selling are more widely respected in China. Two issues perhaps lie at the core of this fact: firstly, the entrepreneurial spirit of the Chinese people, and secondly the great importance placed on relationships in business decision-making. A good salesman must be adept at forging not only relationships, but also friendships with potential customers. The importance of relationship-building tends to imply a long sales process, requiring of salespeople patience, continual learning and an on-the-ground presence. Finally, Two of the top four requirements of Chinese buyers and business owners – the need for Western companies to prove that they are ‘established’ in the market, and the need for them to demonstrate experience of dealing with similar companies (preferably in China), illustrate the difficulty many Western companies have in gaining the trust of their target audience. As previously noted, ‘business’ trust in China is often developed through relationships. However, important as these are, the first thing any Western company should do is prepare and present comprehensive case studies and client lists for the potential Chinese customer. These should be leveraged to the absolute maximum, and from the earliest possible stage in the relationship. This is in contrast to many Western markets, where past experience is often mentioned in the vaguest terms and references are rarely followed up.

Please share!