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The skill set required for Sourcing in China effectively

By Jesus David Cano Romano
February 24, 2016
China Sourcing


Any China Sourcing project requires a bit more than just a computer and internet connection, for having an effective Sourcing in China, anyone who’s looking to get the best from this venture should have a series of skills that help to ensure success in the process.

Here the skill set:

1) Product Knowledge

Lets be honest, if you don’t know the product you’re looking for, you certainly have started with the wrong foot.

Knowing every detail of your product and its characteristics will make the process easier, as you’ll be able to know exactly what you’re looking for and detect which supplier is better.

Related: Key aspects to address when outsourcing manufacturing to China

2) Pragmatism

Be pragmatic when approaching to new potential suppliers, clear and well defined specifications will be the key for a successful project. No need for difficult technical terms. Be straight forward about your project details, this includes: product characteristics, target prices, lead times, etc.

3) Effective Communication

This is completely correlated with the previous skill, make sure that you and your potential supplier understand each other from day one. Nowadays majority of the suppliers listed on the web directories will be able to speak English or at least will have an English speaking sales staff member, but if you decided to visit China, and visit several factories, the best you can do will be to hire or partner with a local experienced individual that will help you to overcome the language barrier, thus ensure there’s no communication gaps.

Ask your supplier for constant and clear updates about your project. Even the bad news are important to be known.

Note: Chinese people tend to never say “no”. This because Chinese society emphasizes respecting people’s Face and maintaining important relationships, saying no directly can lead to unintended problems. So that being said you need to make sure that the supplier is capable to make something or to commit to something before signing any agreement.

Related: Best China Sourcing Strategy to Avoid Scams

4) Interpersonal Skills

A very important aspect about management is interpersonal, how we deal with others. This even more in China, where establishing and maintaining good relationships is the key for success in business. China has a business culture based in something called “Guanxi”.

Guanxi is deeply embedded in Chinese culture. It is more than just barter or exchange because these are usually one-off transactions.Perhaps it would be more accurate to describe someone’s Guanxi circle or network as an intricate web of relationships.

Related: Understand the Guanxi

5) Patience

Rarely any project where Sourcing in China is needed will be flawless, so you need to be patient, this encompasses all the phases of the project, from the search of potential leads, where you need to take enough time to contrast different suppliers in order to identify the best for you and your project, to the beginning of the manufacturing phase where you will need most likely to make some tweaks or modifications in order to get the products as you need them.

It is important to mention that if after several times the supplier is just not getting what you are asking them to do, you should opt for your second choice.

6) Clairvoyance

This doesn’t mean that you need to be able to read the future from a crystal ball. But for any sourcing project you need to able to detect when the things are not going in the right path. Analysing and detecting possible flaws can be the difference between a successful scenario and a manufacturing nightmare. Plan always ahead and have always a backup plan in case there’s a pitfall in the process.

An effective way to do this is by getting your supplier to sign a terms and conditions agreement that encompasses not only fines or monetary sanctions in case of not committing to the contract but also to protect you and your business from any potential IP threats.

7) Organisation

Last but not least, be organised, create your own timeline for your project and have a clear tasks and milestones list for your project. Share and discuss your desired timeline with your manufacturer and make sure both of you stick to it. Being organised will allow you to identify what’s missing or what went wrong in the process, and also will show your manufacturer you’re committed forcing him to do the same.

Last Word

We have reviewed the most important skills to acquire and take into practice when Sourcing in China, and we are sure that if followed the previous recommendations the adventure of sourcing and manufacturing in China will be a smooth journey.

In China 2 West we have a decade of experience helping companies from around the globe to Source products and Suppliers in China, always delivering the best results. Contact Us today to start  getting the best that Manufacturing in China has to offer.

Related:

Top 4 China Sourcing Myths

10 Tips for Manufacturing in China

7 Critical Mistakes when Sourcing in China

China Sourcing for SME’s: Best ways for SME’s to source from China