Interview with Sun Liang
Founder & SEO of www.generate.net.cn
Liang's business specializes in helping companies to find ways to the Chinese market. He started www.generate.net.cn four years ago, and today he handles a comprehensive and reliable network of sales agents. His focus is to assist potential customers to find a market for their products, create business opportunities, and build relationships that generate revenue for his clients.
1. What is your approach to your business?
We work with small to medium size companies, mostly these businesses are new, or existing ones struggling to generate sales.
We do a pre-qualification process first, and if we agree to work with them, we find ways to improve their business. It is essential that our partners are flexible and eager to work together instead of having to justify what and why we do a certain way. Western companies often have very little understanding of doing business in China. For this reason first, we need to educate them about certain aspects of the culture and business.
The sales are taken care by us as an external sales force while the brand is responsible for everything but sales.
2. How do you build your network of independent sales associates?
I started with word of mouth in my network in the construction industry. Until today it is still my most robust network. However, it expanded in to other areas as well as friends, business partners, and clients.
3. Is your focus on China or also international?
We have two stakeholders: international business (principals) that have challenges localizing their sales efforts. As I mentioned before, China is a very different market, where people come and go and hard to find relationships unless you are involved in the industry. Language is as big as a challenge as understanding the local business culture. We help these "principals" to find customers in China.
Our other stakeholders are "clients" – that pay for the products. These are typically distributors or even importers.
4. How do you connect products with potential distributors?
In B2B we only work with products that our network of agents are interested in, and they have already an existing customer base.
But if the product is unique and it inspires us, we are happy to help to find clients. What we offer is presence in China, such as tradeshows, prospecting, presenting, communicating, negotiating, organizing, and project management. Of course, some of the product owners are not located in China. Without having them to come here, we represent them here, on the ground and help them to build relationships and generate sales.
5. Do you help with figuring out logistics, customs, and other administrative tasks?
We offer total sales solutions, and we work with partners who can take care of licenses, logistics, billing, invoicing. As a result, the principals don’t necessarily have to have local entities or representation in China.
6. What kind of products is easy or challenging to sell in the China market?
It doesn’t matter what we think is a good product. It is essential that our client distributors and agents believe that it is suitable and possible to sell. We have access to a vast array of distributors from constructions, to cosmetics, skincare, F&B, healthcare as well as we can find new channels as well. However, the market is more and more challenging for incoming products.
The Chinese product quality is picking up while the prices of Western products are going up, hence not necessarily worth to buy those brands.The story behind a product is what helps to generate interest.
7. What do you recommend to our Hubbers inventors when it comes to selling a product on the Chinese market?
- We get approached by new products and brands all the time and one thing we always tell, that it is a huge market but very different. Before a new business decides to come to China, they need to ensure they have done adequate research and talk to enough potential clients and customers.
- Setting up an online store sounds easy, but it is going to be a challenging and unique experience compared to the West. People prefer here different look, cute and busy things. I encourage new brands to outsource design, marketing, and branding. I recommend to companies to ship their products and let locals do the rest. Learning curve often takes too much time.
- Do enough due diligence with the distributors about their worthiness and find out if they will copy the product. Often they do, and the best scenario is when the distributor gives time, such as five years to the brand before they copy the product.
Liang is expert in sales, lead generation, street canvassing, Chinese public relations, Government relations, finding new channels to market, and distribution in China.