My BD experience was learned on the job after I co-founded Red Lion Engineering in late 2014 after leaving a corporate job. I have to do BD quickly and effectively as I needed the sale. So I adopted my own BD strategy and signed our first major contract in less than three months of our establishment. There are three essential steps in doing BD in China
- Obtain a powerful/trusted introduction to your Chinese client. If you are relatively new in the market, then who introduced you will be paramount. On top of professional reputation which is important every else, Chinese also want to identify you in a meaningful way to them. For example, I had one very successful business dealing due to an introduction made by my college alumnus.
- Schedule frequent country visit to build rapport. There is no short cut, as a rule of thumb, for new business, quarterly visit is required. It is time and money consuming part of the BD process. To reduce time commitment, considering to conduct follow up meetings by more junior managers in the business. And to help with funding for the trip, look out for government grants and program to help. We have successfully applied EDMG (export marketing development grant) from Austrade, you can look up their website for more information. We also utilized Vic Government’s VIP program to showcase our business. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PQwz93261kE
- Adopt Chinese Social media tools to keep communication going. In between your market visits, you need to communicate with Chinese clients. While quite a few popular Western social media tools are not working in China including Facebook, you have to learn to use Chinese ones. Wechat is the king of social media in China. As of May 2016, WeChat has over a billion created accounts, 700 million active users; 90% in mainland China. You may want to try it before you go.
These three steps will help you to build a trusted relationship with your Chinese customers. By then, you have accomplished the most important step in any BD activity. There are other practical steps to consider. From drafting agreement to negotiate with your Chinese clients, I will cover in my future blogs.
Wen Shan is the Co-founder at Red lion engineering, a Melbourne based Professional Services Company specialised in providing expert engineering services for automotive industry both in China and Australia. Red Lion will conduct doing business in China series training at Mulgrave office, welcome to one of upcoming events.Click here