After recently completing our most recent China Connection event and preparing for our next two, Investorist have had years of experience connecting developers from around the globe, to Selling Agents (Real Estate Agents, Migration Agents, Financial Advisers etc) in China. Early on in the process it was apparent that having a presence in China would be crucial to the success of our clients however we understand better than most that doing business in China is very different to doing business in a Western country like Australia, the UK and the US. Here are our top tips for any developers wanting to break into the Chinese investment market.
1. Meet face to face
Culturally the Chinese prefer do business face to face. Whilst research and enquires may be done online, when it comes to making important business decisions and signing contracts, the Chinese would rather meet the people they are doing business with. The Chinese also rarely agree to a deal or sign an agreement in an office or around the table. Chinese people like to engage with their business prospects in a social setting as well, preferably over a meal. At Investorist, we call this phenomenon ‘O2O’ or Online to Offline, and it is the reason our China Connection events, which carefully match property developers and selling agent for one on one meetings, have been so successful in closing deals.
2. Speak their language
Whilst English is mostly spoken in the larger cities like Shanghai, Shenzhen, Guangzhou, etc., many people only speak Mandarin, Cantonese or local dialects. It would be worth having a staff member who can speak the local language or hiring a translator to ensure everything is clearly understood between all parties.
3. Be a subject expert
Typically, Chinese selling agents like to be assured that you are an expert in your field, and that you and your team can make that expertise available to your Chinese partners. Developers are expected to be the ‘subject expert’ on the project they are building, the city it’s located in, the economics of the area, suburb growth and yields, current bank lending policies, government regulations relating to foreign ownership and immigration visas and more. When you offer to give seminars, attend trade shows or train Chinese sales teams on your project, it goes a very long way in boosting your appeal and credibility as a partner they want to do business with.
4. Send senior people
Chinese people value the seniority of the personnel they deal with. Making sure a senior management representative of your company is available is important, especially when dealing with the most senior staff of the Chinese selling agent you wish to do business with. Much like in Western culture, it sends the message that you take the deal and the relationship seriously, as you have invested in sending your top people to meet with them in their country.
5. Invest in follow up and training
It doesn’t stop once you have made the initial pitch. The more you can help your Chinese business partners to educate their customers and train their staff on your product or service, the more successful you will be. This ties in with being a subject expert, meeting face-to-face and sending over senior people to China.
6. Embrace WeChat
WeChat is the most popular form of digital communication in China, and most Chinese people especially the Gen Ys and Millennials, live on this platform. A good understanding of WeChat is critical when doing business in China. Investorist utilises WeChat extensively to communicate project specifics in the lead up to its China Connection events directly to the property professionals most interested in learning about them.
7. Host your website in China, and in Mandarin
China has ‘the great firewall’ which restricts access to most websites, and there is no guarantee your western-hosted site will be accessible in China. With major site like Facebook and Google banned in China, you need to fully understand the local digital landscape if your business has any dependence on a website. This includes payment applications, social networking sites and even Google Maps. If your website doesn’t comply with China’s strict government regulations, don’t expect your website to be visible to Chinese.
Get it right in China though, with China accounted for $33b in foreign residential and commercial property investment last year, and the sky’s the limit. To find out more about our China Connection events, click here.