Make Your Business Negotiations in China more successful by talking to the rights Persons

Thorough trip preparations will make your business trip to China more successful and will help reduce your travel expenses. Therefore, you are best advised to prepare yourself in order to make a favorable showing when negotiating with your suppliers. Poor preparations can leave a negative impression about how your company conducts business and will not achieve the desired goals.

With Whom Should You Negotiate on Your Supplier’s Side?

Talking to the right or wrong person in your supplier’s hierarchy can be the key for successful or failed negotiations.

Typically your negotiations begin with the sales manager. If technical details need to be worked out the production manager and/or one of the senior engineers will be involved.

Meeting with Decision Makers

These managers however cannot make final decisions without consulting with senior management, when the meeting carries a significant importance. Typically these are meetings where the outcome involves a lot of money. It could be a negotiation to resolve a settlement claim or it might involve a large volume purchase order. I can only advise you to go right to the top decision maker. That means you must talk to the company owner. This can be several people if it is a shareholder owned company. You may need to meet with the chairman of the board, the chief executive, or the president.

It may prove difficult to get in touch with the supplier’s decision maker because they are usually shielded by their staff. Knowing the background of your supplier is essential to pinpointing the right person if your supplier has thousands of employees.

It may pay off now, of you have visited that supplier before and already know the company hierarchy.

I have discovered on various occasions that decision makers in China go into hiding and cannot be reached by your company when there is a major settlement claim. This might seem strange but if you do not nail down an appointment with your supplier’s decision maker, you may end up talking to the people that shield him and end up just wasting more time and money.

Have Current Contact Information On Hand

It should not be this way but believe me, even as a permanent Hong Kong resident it has happened to me. I have arrived at a supplier’s office address only to find out they moved to a new location several weeks ago.

Sometimes, managers may be using up a supply of old business cards and forget to let customers know about their new office location. Or maybe it has been a while since you last talked to them and when you call or e-mail to arrange a meeting, they have forgotten you do not know that they moved. This is especially true in cities like Hong Kong or Shanghai where offices frequently move. You need to make sure that you have up to date addresses in your records.

Even more important are the cell phone numbers because this is your primary way of contacting the persons while you are traveling. In large cities, the traffic conditions can at times be terrible and you will want to inform your business partner if you will not make it on time for an appointment.

A Few of Good Travel Tips

A sketch with a Chinese character description of the supplier’s location sometimes works wonders helping your taxi driver find your supplier’s location. You might be able to draw the sketch and have someone at your hotel add the Chinese characters or have the supplier e-mail something similar to you.

If your taxi driver still has trouble finding the supplier’s location, you can call the supplier on your cell phone and ask him to give directions to the taxi driver in the local language. This usually does the trick.

You can always ask your supplier to pick you up from the hotel to avoid this problem but it can be inconvenient and time consuming to wait for the supplier to send a car. Most Chinese factories are usually glad to send a company car to pick you up. However, companies in Hong Kong or Shanghai may not be willing to provide this service.

When visiting suppliers you will want to make plans that best utilize the available time. This is even necessary if you are visiting suppliers in one of the large Chinese cities like Hong Kong, Shenzhen, Guangzhou, and Shanghai. These cities are so vast that you need a realistic plan if are going to get much accomplished.

Posted April 1st, 2012 in China Business Negotiations.

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