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Selling in China’s industrial water sector: how to find the right sales channels and partners

Selling in China is not that different from selling elsewhere. But there are several key differences you need to keep in mind. That’s why we’ve compiled a list with five tips to sell in the Chinese industrial water sector.

  1. Don’t Michael Jordan it: First and foremost – adequately protect your IP rights. Also, check for needed certification or product testing to sell your solutions in China.
  1. Don’t go at it alone: The strength of your local network determines your success in the Chinese water market. Which is why we can’t stress enough how important it is to find the right local partner to open up important sales channels.
  1. Strengthen your local presence: Selling your solution is not enough. Being able to provide timely after-sales service is crucial to compete with local competitors.
  1. Target engineering companies and design institutes: The gateway to key-decision makers and your potential end-customers, it’s indispensible to establish and nurture strong relationships with them.
  1. Sufficiently support from abroad: Regardless of how you choose to establish your operations in China, don’t underestimate the required investment (time and money) to support your operations in China.

Let’s take a closer look at these tips:

Always adequately protect your IP – and check for certification and testing

Horror stories of brands being unable to sell their products in China, as they’re already registered by a counterfeit company – teach us that protecting your IP rights is a prerequisite before taking any other action.

Work with a law firm that possesses particular knowledge of this specific industry and register your patents, trademarks and other property rights.

Conducting thorough due diligence on your potential partners can also effectively mitigate risks. If you plan to manufacture (parts of) your solution locally, importing IPR-sensitive parts might be the safer option.

Your partner in China and the relationship you have is pivotal to your success in China

Without a local partner or an established local team it will be extremely difficult to get projects. It starts with acquiring market information and ends with convincing engineering companies, design institutes and end-users to choose your solution.

Given the time it takes to build-up your own presence, it’s much faster to find suitable local partners to gain access to the market. Don’t forget to conduct due diligence, ask for project references to assess their technical capabilities and to verify their contacts and networks by talking to industry experts from other businesses or associations.

Strengthen your local presence

Specifically in the industrial water sector, you’ll want to show your long-term commitment to China and provide credibility and security to your customers. Merely selling your solution won’t cut it. You’ll need to provide sufficient technical support on the ground:

  • Help train, manage and support your distributors or local partners
  • Improve your distributors and upgrade their working methods
  • Provide timely after-sales service to compete with competitors
  • Maintain relationships with key clients and stakeholders
  • Exercise more control over your brand image, marketing, promotion, stakeholders and IPR

Build relationships with engineering companies and design institutes

Regular Chinese distributors may lack in-house expertise and know-how to offer advanced solutions to end-users. The better option are engineering companies, who often choose to act as distributors for equipment manufacturers, especially because this enables them to lower procurement costs and up their own competitive advantage. They not only have the necessary technical capabilities, but also possess valuable local market knowledge and networks to end-users and design institutes.

Design institutes not only co-write tenders, but are also key decision makers on which technologies to consider. Most importantly, they’re opinion is asked by end-users when it comes to selecting suppliers.

Don’t underestimate the amount of support needed from your home organisation

To reap the best results, constant support to your local team and partners is needed by your home organisation. Don’t underestimate the time and money it will take to break into this market.

Launch Factory 88

Launch Factory 88

We assist industrial companies sell and distribute in China. If you enjoy reading our articles, then you'll love our resources section.
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