Manage relationship with Chinese suppliers part 2 – The communication

Filed Under:Supplier Relation   |   Viewed by: 5517 Persons

My friend Oswaldo runs several companies in Brazil, he buy products from China and sell them in Brazil. He recently complained to me that one of his Chinese suppliers act arrogantly and didn't respond to his questions very well.

They are negotiating the letter of intent, the Chinese suppliers kept asking simple questions which he has replied again and again, my first thought was that the Chinese supplier might have problem to understand what is letter of intension, what the legal liability they will have to sign such a legal paperwork, and they even have a problem to understand the legal terms and language of the document. After calling the supplier, it is confirmed that my assumption is right – the supplier don't understand the LOI very well, they even have problem understanding the legal language.

Most miscommunication is caused by the language issue, English is not native language of your Chinese supplier, so they are always struggling to express and understand things in English. You will agree with me if you have visited Canton fair. The salesmen there are elite salesmen, however, at most booths, you will find you will only be able to communicate with them in very basic English, especially, many of them will have problem with speaking and listing, writing is somewhat easier for them compared with speaking and listing.

To avoid language barrier, here is some advices I would share:
1. Use simple and easy to understand English
When you write an email or converse on instant messengers, try to use simple and basic English to express yourself, if your supplier didn't respond to your questions, which you think is important, explain that question, and ask again, they might not understand that question at all.

2. Write instead of Speak, if it is important
Calling the supplier can speed up communication, however, in most cases, you will find it much more harder to communicate on telephone(in spoken English), than communicate in email(in written English).

So for important matters, try to write in Email or fax, then make a call to confirm if they have received it.

The knowledge, expertise, and experience of salesman might be another reason that causes communication barrier. In the example given above, Oswaldo is an elite entrepreneur, he has degree from top U.S university, he travel around the world, his company is funded by venture capital. However, the salesman is a newly graduated students, speak basic English, with little business experience, Oswaldo take it for granted that the salesman know letter of intent, non-disclosure agreement etc, which the salesman actually knew very little.

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