Door to door sales in China

In china business by Michael Michelini11 Comments

It has been a bit more strange then expected with certain sales initiative, yes each country and culture is different. I try my best to be flexible and adaptive, but selling in china has been interesting to say the least.

First of all, selling in china is difficult by definition. Chinese people are “tighter” with their money (i.e. don’t spend as easily), but hey, maybe that’s why their currently one of the only world economies with cash, so it was worth it – right? But Chinese are savers, they bargain, they look for deals, they shop around.

They also generally don’t like to pay for services, as its not a tangible product, and secondly, they think why can’t they do it themselves internally? That is always the hard sell anywhere in the world – “why should I pay you to do it when I can do it myself?”. But in China, where there are so many people and therefore many job opportunities, why can’t they hire staff to do it internally.

After you convince them, maybe you are an expert in the field, and that you are qualified to do the service you are selling, the next is, who are you, who do you know. This is to see if you known in the community, are a respectable person to do business with. Also, there are many cheaters who will easily take your money and run. I don’t mean to offend my Chinese friends, but I feel they will agree with me here. Do lots of research before making a purchase, and ask around. Contracts are often done for even what may seem like smaller transactions.

After you convince them on (1) your product/ service is worth buying, and (2) you are not going to cheat them, they also move to (3) price! You almost always have to let your price go a bit lower, even a slight discount from your offer and the customer will feel he/she has gotten something. So be ready to lower your price, you want the customer to feel they’ve won a deal and have a special price.

So, selling in China is about FACE! they want to visit your office, meet your staff, see your operations. they look into what your company name is, how long you’ve been in business. I’ve even seen my company name listed in BBS asking if they know who I am and if anyone else has done business with me before. Very interesting things….and…

You have to adapt to the culture in order to succeed

So these are my ideas and feedback in my experience here in China:

1) Have a clear and solid product. Services are harder to sell in China. The technology market is a bit behind USA and therefore customers here aren’t as educated on the internet. You have to go “back to basics”

2) Have a reputation for yourself. Chinese customers are VERY skeptical (yes, well everyone is, but seems Americans are easiest with their cash). In America, people like helping a startup company because the “american cowboy” (As Tao Bao (Chinese ebay) before making the purchase. 1 reason is to make sure there is actually a person behind the “curtain”, but the other reason is to bargain on price. And to even get a few rmb (50 us cents) will let him purchase one over the other.

I’m not saying I’m an expert in Selling in China (my experience is still in Infancy!) but I want to share some ideas and get some conversation. I need to learn to speak Chinese (really now can order some food and swear at a taxi driver is about all), then I can really engage. But I love the people here, learning from them, and comparing the differences with my homeland of America.

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  1. very likely, just like what you say. I agree.

    that’s business in china, challenges come with opportunities

  2. @dswei why don’t you get some sleep! up late like me! hehe

    thanks for agreeing – you don’t have to though…..but yes one thing I didn’t mention, that I think you will also agree with you

    once they are your customer, they are usually loyal, right?

  3. You know,there have doubt company with my mind when i read this article. Is that did mike talk about the chinese people?seem you are talking ,till i got your last information. Look,i say nothing, it seems you said all and i agree with you,especially the last one about loyal.that is sweet words but ture.

    let me fly off at a tangent,one time when i talking about people with my friend Sam Moly,there have a joke from him” the white people trust white people,the black people trust black people, who do the chinese people trust? no one,only themself.” Yes,in a sense. However, when you know more about Chinese history and complex social environment, living environment, economic environment and human nature, you would think this is normal.

    Honestly,we would like to trust others and we do,but finally,in every critical juncture, we will be disappionted,we found we only can trust ourself. This is a tragedy. Maybe everywhere not just in China. I do not say that our people do not worth to trust, just look at what specific…. God,i do not know what i am saying,mess.

  4. Forgot one thing, you can not be so selfish only in your mind the difference between China and the United States compared. just kidding. let us compare…. by the way,learn to speak chinese is good idea.

  5. Pretty cool post. I just came by your site and wanted to say
    that I’ve really enjoyed reading your posts. Any way
    I’ll be subscribing to your blog and I hope you write again soon!

    1. Author

      haha, thanks Katy. Yea I hope to write here more often. been getting more transparent and open about my life experiences online.


  6. Mike, you did make sense of Chinese people and culture very much.

    Frankly speaking, right now most business in China is owned by the people of 1950s-1970s, they received the traditional education, although they also get used to PC and mordern business, the habit is not easy to change(that’s why they just want to buy trangiable goods not invisable service). However, you will find that for the younger Chinese people, more and more are trying some E-business, credit card, etc, the consuming habit is getting closer to wester.

    That is to say the E-business future in China is a promising field.

    I deeply agree, Chinese like face, but I think it’s not for Chinese, right?

    1. Author

      Thanks for your input Daniel. Yes, in China there is a lot of different cultures between the 1950 – 1970 generation and the generation graduating from university now.

      I am at an Internet Trade show in Shenzhen right now, and yes, there is a LOT more social websites opening in China. And there is more buying online within the younger generation.

      I wonder though, the government does not seem happy about this, and seems to be blocking more and more. But the younger generation is a bit more rebellious and will find ways to continue to find more ways to share information online and do business online.

      We’ll see, yes, the China e-commerce market is HOT now.

  7. For the Internet business/E-commerce industry, China government I think is a positive attitude, government encourages the environment-friendly and non-resource-comsumption industry, and In Chines there are already some companies do it well, like alibaba, QQ, Baidu, trade-in-China, especially some B2B websites like EBAY you mentioned. of course, some of them are joint ventureed.

    On the other hand, there is a problem occurs in the Internet, how to control the credit of internet transaction, Currently there is not rules and regulation to the Internet crime(I mean not only the hacker to do the harmful things) in China.

    How do you see the recent event that google China was accused of containing the pornographic contents. I thought it’s a series of government activities to regulate the Internet(maybe is maken use of by its competitors). but it does cause trouble to me, because I am a royal googler. I used to search healthy material, haha…

    Meanwhile you can see now more and more companies are focusing on and investing big money on the Internet marketing, that’s why B2B website in China is poplular.

    Some friends back from US university told me that they feel future trends in the marketing is in the Internet. I do agree, even now the many technology is approaching the internet/IP.



  8. Author

    @Daniel Lee

    Hi Daniel,
    thanks for your comments – yes, the internet is EXPLODING all over the world, china, usa, everywhere. I mean back in 2003 when I started looking into this more deeply I thought it was crazy, but now its EVERYWHERE, and EVERYONE is doing it, talking about it, realizing the internet is the future and how business is going to be done.

    As far as my thoughts on Google in China….well I am trying to keep the government here from blocking this blog, but I will say this:

    Baidu is headquartered in Beijing. The Chinese government is in Beijing……Baidu has to have close relations with government officials there. I would not be surprized if some whispers over some drinks were said about this Google porn spreading rumor….It would be great for Baidu if google was blocked in China….right….

    I will leave it at that.

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