Channel Management in China

An introduction to channel management in China

In this soundbite video our principal, Anton Blijlevens, gives a quick intro to channel management in China.

John Cochrane is the Trade Commissioner and General Counsel for New Zealand based in Guangzhou. So, John is backed by 65 other personnel in the greater China region, across seven offices to help New Zealand businesses export into China. John spoke to us about channel management and gave us four key points.

Establish undeniable credibility

The first one that he gave us was to establish undeniable credibility and to explain that he gave us a good example. If you are the CEO of a New Zealand company, put on your business card that you are the Global CEO because it just helps move conversations to a higher level in Chinese organisations.

Relationships and trust

He also talked to us about relationships and trust and mentioned that there is a strong preference to do business with trusted friends and not faceless companies. The legal framework is not necessarily reliable in China and therefore, the person with the greatest trust generally trumps everybody else.

Balance breadth and depth of partner relationships

He mentioned that there is a need to balance the breadth and depth of partnership relationships, find a natural sweet spot between quantity and quality, avoid spreading yourself too thin by having all of your eggs in one basket.

Be patient yet demanding – and supportive

He also mentioned that we need to be patient yet demanding and supportive. In terms of the supportive aspect, I’ve got an example. I was in China about three years ago working with some New Zealand guys that are manufacturing product up there and they needed an outside factory to help package this product. They set up a jig to help increase the speed of packaging. They ran into problems using this jig and told my client up there that they weren’t going to be able to fulfil the order in time to ship the product to the United States. Rather than sending a nasty email saying that this was your problem to solve out, my guys ended up packing a minivan full of guys and we ended up going over to this factory to help with the packaging process to ensure that the orders and the shipping times were met. I guess in one sense they did send a lawyer and that was me, but I ended up packaging product for the afternoon, not really a cheap use of my time. But to me it showed that in China business can be supportive and quite collaborative.