By Diana Wang
According to our experience, most of the exhibitors and visitors will not actively follow up after the exhibition, maybe because they are busy with catching up with other work postponed due to the trip. Even though you prepare very well before the exhibition and have a wonderful discussion with the right suppliers, the trip will be wasted if you do not follow up adequately. Although the Chinese are learning to be more professional and international in their approach, you can expect to receive 2-3 follow-up letters from the 10 companies you have spoken to. (Perhaps 10 years ago you could have expected all 10 companies to be waiting for you to call them first). In order to establish a healthy relationship with a promising Chinese supplier, you must be prepared to become the side who will take the first step and who can educate them and push them to be more professional.
Here we will talk about some details to pay attention to when you follow up with the Chinese exhibitors:
- Follow up letter
A thank-you letter or a follow-up letter should be sent soonest after you have met with the supplier. The letter must include your full contact details in case the suppliers lose your business card. The letter could be either a simple thank-you letter or a letter reminding of the next steps, which is especially needed when you think you have reached a certain agreement with the supplier on what to do next. This is because the exhibitors normally cannot organize the information well and will forget what they promise to do afterwards and for whom they should do it. So to send a follow-up letter is a necessary step to double check whether the supplier remembers who you are and whether they really understand your needs for the next step.
- Information review and integration
In the meantime you should review the meeting minutes, brochures and previous research when your memory is still fresh. When you review all the information, you will want to keep the following two aspects in mind:
- To check if the information you get from the exhibition is somehow inconsistent with the information you collected before. If so, which is the correct information and what is the reason for the inconsistence? Are there still some questions or confusion to be answered or clarified?
- To review if the information you get from different exhibitors is consistent. They may have different ideas on what is China’s most advanced technology or who is China’s largest supplier or who is a trading company instead of a real plant. By reviewing all these stories, you may be able to judge who is lying and be cautious with the liar in the future.
If you have any questions, you should ask the suppliers as soon as possible when the contact people still remember you, otherwise you may not be able to get answers for some questions. If you have done adequate preparation and follow-up after the exhibition, you will have taken the first step of setting up a successful relationship with the suppliers. Then as long as you maintain this relationship properly, Chinese suppliers will always be willing to reply to you promptly and offer you good price.
Diana Wang, The China Sourcing Blog