How To Understand China In One Word

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way.

Excerpts from A Tale of Two Cities (1859) by Charles Dickens

If you are asked to use one word to describe China, what word will you use? “Undemocratic” because both Facebook and YouTube are blocked in China? “Prosperous” because you have seen the towering skyscrapers and flying high-speed trains in China? “Inhuman” because you have seen the report of Yuling Dog Meat Festival? “Rich” because you have seen crazy Chinese shoppers of luxury goods in world major cities? None of the above could generalize China so easily, but one safe and sure way to describe China is, everything in China is under transformation, which means, nothing in China is completed or perfected yet, nor anything has never started yet.

1. From lack of creativity to full of creativity/From uniformity to diversity

Suppose there are ten phones made-in-China with same inch yet different brands on the table, you can find it easy to think they are just different models under one single brand, because they have almost completely same looks, functions and specifications. Almost every single new change in a new iPhone can invite numerous copied designs in Chinese phone industry, Chinese manufacturers do not even have to think but simply copy their industry leader. The origin of Chinese people’s lack of creativity actually can be traced back to ancient Chinese imperial examinations in which essays were formulated around a rigid, artificial structure. This kind of unnecessarily uniform education system has far-reaching effect on the present Gaokao (Chinese National Higher Education Entrance Examination) which leads to lack of focus on teaching critical thinking and ignoring students’ emotions, values and personalities. As a result, Chinese students or suppliers tend to focus only on how best they can take after their counterparts, so they can achieve same high grades or profit. However, with the rapid development of Chinese economy and society, Chinese people are shifting their attention to the awakening of people’s individuality and personality, for example, people are praised for being who they are, expressing what they think and doing what they like rather than merely according to common expectations. So are Chinese products, the world witnesses waves after waves of technological innovation in Chinese industry, that is why Chinese companies including tech giants like Huawei are paying more and more importance to intellectual property.

2. From money-driven to ideal-driven

Chinese people is more or less regarded as a nation with no faith, as generation after generation of people are being taught to believe in socialism and Marxism and regard the religious beliefs as superstitious. But do Chinese really have no faith and have nothing in mind to rely on? Not exactly, Chinese people do root their actions and words in money, family ties and human connection (Guanxi). Though these concepts are not written on the country’s textbooks, every Chinese is consciously or unconsciously enacting these essentials in their life. The first a few questions that come to people’s mind when talking about a certain profession are: Does that earn you a lot of money? Do you have any relatives or friends of high stature taking care of that line of work? The answers to these questions usually determine how much likely someone can earn respect and achieve success. People care less about what contribution that certain profession does to the other people and focus on more what that profession can earn for the family and themselves financially and respectfully. However, despite everything to the contrary, Chinese people are also changing, more and more people dedicate themselves to solving virtual problems and creating something really revolutionary for the mankind. Examples include Jack Ma who completely changed the way people do business and shopping, Pony Ma who changed the way Chinese people are connected with one another, etc. Chinese people find out they are too much focused on the material gains and begin the shift their attention to the betterment of environment, science, ways of doing things, and social well-being.

3. From unprofessional to professional

Business lies are not lies. But sometimes Chinese business people tend to abuse this way of communication in business, they are inclined to think they can do everything possible to achieve great business, because they believe whatever that can be done is not wrong, so long as they do not get criminalized easily. Some are looked up to by many others because they can make huge fortunes even if by scamming their buyers or shirking taxation in some “clever” manner. They believe the person who makes the most money is the real winner. Sure enough, their way of doing business certainly will not fit the world outside China, that is one of the reasons why many world giant companies find China a very difficult market to fit in, such as Amazon, eBay, Yahoo or even Google. Fortunately, as noted in the beginning of this analysis, nothing in China is perfect yet, but China is also experiencing significant changes in the way of business, more and more companies find out the long term advantages of ensuring transparency, professionalism, good quality, good service and integrity. Take Alibaba for example, Jack Ma’s team is vigorously striving to eliminate faked goods out of Taobao, although the effectiveness is another matter to discuss.

How To Qualify Prospects

Whether you sell on a showroom floor to mum and dads or work the corporate B2B sector this editorial will give you the basics to put in place a follow-up system that will take the pain out of qualifying a prospect.

What I learned about qualifying prospects

First tip – It is better to have a system than wait until you have the perfect system.

For every opinion you will get a different perspective. For example when I shared the following system I recently put together I got so many ideas thrown at me as to how to improve it that I finally had to close off the channel of comments and go with what I had.

My OLD Approach To Qualifying Prospects

Years ago, I was taught when I first got into sales that having completed a presentation I should ask the prospect when I should follow them up. That way when I telephoned several days later I was doing so with their permission.

Recently I contacted and did a sales presentation to two prospects, one based in the city and the other in a major rural town.

In each case I followed up at the agreed time that the prospect had agreed to. In each case I made five follow-up calls based on the timetable agreed to by each of these prospects.

What was the outcome qualifying these prospects?

I was the only person who actually delivered on what I promised (surprise, surprise). Each prospect said that they would either review my emails or speak to one of my references, but in each case they kept apologizing saying that they would get around to reviewing my material eventually. Which they didn’t.

The first prospect is still very keen, he tells me. He also feels that his business needs my service and he will eventually get around to making a decision. As he affirmed with me on each call, “Ken, we need your service to grow our business.”

At this rate I am expecting a call when I retire, at least we will be old friends by then.

The second prospect got really annoyed. Having sought agreement each time as to when I should follow-up with him, he finally got back to me with a decision. “I can’t work with you – you phone too much and are extremely pushy.” So much for our agreement.

What did I learn about qualifying these prospects?

As several of my successful real estate agent clients tell me, ” buyers are liars!”

The real truth is that everybody is maxed out with their time and I don’t believe any one approach is the right approach. Some people hate the thought of rejection, so not wanting to hurt your feelings or have to confront a situation they simply won’t say NO, hoping you will get the idea by their inaction and finally stop following them up.

Then there are those people who can’t make a decision for whatever reason and you reminding them of this forces them into a corner where they attack you for their lack of backbone.

Then there is the rest of the business community who differ so much on this subject that you will never understand or meet each everyone idea of when they should be followed up. For the most part, they don’t understand themselves – good luck dealing with these guys.

My NEW Approach To Qualifying Prospects

First tip – Don’t try and work out whether the prospect is a ‘maybe’ or ‘hot’ for what you are offering, you will find yourself knocking on the door of the funny farm.

Having had these recent experiences, I now have in place a follow-up system utilising e-mail software that tells me the following:

When and how many times a person has opened my e-mail.

Embedded in each e-mail is a series of links to information that an interested prospect would want to read. The e-mail software tells me how many times they clicked on each of these links.

If they forwarded my e-mail to somebody else in their own organization and the number of times they clicked through the various links in my e-mail.

With this system in place, I no longer need to second guess whether a prospect is interested or not. As you know, when someone is interested in buying your product or service they tend to read through all the material you send them.

With this e-mail system in place it tells me their level of interaction and gives me a list of hot to cold prospects.

I do not telephone these prospects until they have been through the five-day process. Out of these prospects I only follow-up the ones who have interacted a great deal with my e-mail system.

How has this helped me qualify prospects?

It has freed me up to contact more prospects. I no longer need to second-guess these people and my time is being used more effectively by only working with people who have shown an actual interest, which is judged by their interaction with my five-part email series. The more emails they open and links they click suggests a heightened level of interest.

As I said to one friend recently, why would you bother speaking to people who couldn’t be bothered opening up and reading the valuable material you have sent them.

It is a known fact that people who are serious about buying want as much information as they can get their hands on and will happily interact with your email follow-up sequence when you send them another information packed e-mail that is designed to educate them on improving their situation through the use of your product or service.

The lesson I have learned about qualifying prospects

There are more than enough potential clients in any market that you do not need to waste your time on people you think are prospects, when in fact they just don’t know how to say ‘NO’ and were never really interested in buying from you in the first place.

You are better off investing your time by qualifying prospects that have the means and desire to go ahead.