Doing business in China is no harder than in the West, it is just different. As a seller you have to adapt to the buyer and the country of the buyer. China has a very different culture. It is essential, as in any country, to identify the codes and pratices of the business world, to understand them and to respect them. Whether you are a buyer or a seller, you are primarily the host of your Chinese business partner. Respect the business etiquette and Chinese traditions to maximize your chances of success.
The first thing you need to know when dealing with Asian clients or suppliers is the concept of face and how it works . Keeping face and giving face to his interlocutor is very important.
Having face is the way how one is perceived by the rest of the group. Face is knowing how to be respected and give the impression of success. It plays with one’s ego and how to flatter it. There is a whole lot of principles to respect to have a certain social status and give credibility to his company or person.
The main rule with face in China: don’t make your Chinese business partner lose face if you don’t want to lose your business opportunity.
It is however very difficult to explain it is a whole lot of gestures, forms of politeness, respect the country, culture, honor its partners, avoid to contradict them in public. Inviting your partners to a luxurious place is a mark of respect for a Chinese person.
Guanxi is a Chinese concept of relationship network one must have in order to do business. Understanding guanxis, having guanxis and cultivating guanxis is the key to success in business in China. It takes time and implies to have a good reputation. Guanxis are long-term relationships in China, it means that your partner sees you staying in the country for a few years.
Keep in mind that China is both a developing country and an Asian country. Foreigners need adapt to their customs. This means you will need to give gifts, invite people for dinner, entertain them in a KTV and son on. What we may call corruption or bribes in the west is more perceived as a favor in the East. Understanding this will enable you to do business in China. To remain competitive, it is necessary to offer personal benefits to the interlocutors to avoid being left behing. Knowing the tastes of your client or supplier will give you a serious advantage over your competitor when it comes to please him.
Negociating in China
First thing to remember, never start negociation straight away. You first need to know eac other and gain trust by spending time together as partners should do. The more the person appreciates you (thanks to benefits), the easier the negotiation will be.