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“Sincerity and trust is a universal language when it comes to business”
“Ding ding ding”, the ever-familiar sequential sound that came whenever I receive a notification for a new e-mail struck. Getting e-mails whilst doing a client servicing business is usually nerve-wrecking to a certain extent. You might never know whether your next e-mail is the bearer of bad news, or probably a positive one? What surprised me was the nature of this e-mail instead. “Invitation to visit 2018 Chungbuk Trade Business Meeting at Cheongju” was the title. Having some understanding of Korean related words from K-Pop Songs, my mind kind of grasp what this email might be. I have just been invited to attend an annual business meeting in Cheongju, known to be the capital and largest city of North Chungcheong Province in South Korea. But how did this come to be?
Let me first backtrack a little on how this too-good-to-be-true e-mail came by. Apparently, my company was noticed online by CNE Global through our Augmented Reality and Virtual reality marketing efforts. Good SEO for websites do come a long way for search-ability & discovery!
The first programme we had with them was conducted at a hotel within KL. We were invited to meet with Korean companies relevant with our AR & VR industry. From that business meetup, I realized CNE Global has also a wide selection of Korean beauty manufacturers looking to collaborate with Malaysian companies, which is highly relevant with our e-commerce beauty platform www.chericheri.co.
It was at this moment, I was reminded of a recent video I watched of Jack Canfield, the original author and founder of the Chicken Soup for the Soul series who said “Ask! You have nothing to lose and everything to gain by asking.”
I then did my fair share of asking’s and managed to get a connection for our beauty e-commerce website, thus entails the invitation to South Korea unexpectedly. In business, it is always wise to ask and expand your collaborative efforts not only on a single matter, but on the perspective of an entire organization as a whole.
Within one week of the approval e-mail, me & my business partner Wesley (from which I introduced earlier on at this article over here) was then flown over to Seoul, Korea. With this being the 1st time ever I step on Korean soils, there were many issues of uncertainty. Even a typical holiday would already take many weeks of planning! It was great that the entire process handled by Zi Mei from the agency was of top-notch quality as most of my inquiries was answered without a hitch!
Upon arrival at the hall for Chungbuk Trade Business Meeting, I was blown away by the massive scale of participants involved. This trade business meeting was on an international level with multiple countries from all over the world participating in it. We were then given a professional interpreter called Debbie and met with 6 different Korean beauty suppliers throughout the day. It was a highly fascinating attempt in striking a business deal with them as each Korean company that approached us had their own strategies and tactics in their negotiation.
Throughout my time speaking and understanding them, I managed to learn various important factors in regards with dealing business with overseas companies.
Me, Wesley & our English Interpreter, Debbie
(Special thanks to Debbie for sticking with us the whole day and providing lots of insights on South Korean culture!)
“Language can be a barrier, but that does not mean a business has to!”
Your ability to show past results plays a role in solidifying your credentials rather than talking only on visions and dreams. By putting in the portfolio of how various marketing campaigns or sales strategies were conducted, this gives high confidence towards your own professionalism in dealing with business locally.
Overseas owners are always curious and keen to understand how your local market work. How well do you know your target audience? How well could you push their brand and products into the right customer’s hands? You will be surprised by how much they are unaware of the local industry and whether their products could accommodate the people found here.
Good knowledge sharing regarding the regulations and protocols found within our country will greatly benefit not only them, but yourself as it will sometimes allow the opposite business entity to reveal certain facts not mentioned before. This will then provide you with crucial information on how to take this business negotiation forward and allow you to make the correct judgement.
I have never believed in dragging on business meetings, therefore these 40-minute speed dating concept was perfect as everything discussed was on-point and direct. Apart from basic company introductions made by both parties, we were quick to dive down on the crucial parts of the negotiation. Knowing the minimum order quantity (MOQ) of products with the margins involved right of the bat will save a lot of time in determining whether this business negotiation will turn out to be a suitable match or just a waste of time.
Understanding also efforts made from the current brand and their future plan will immediately tell you the seriousness of the owner into taking their own brand to the next level. Over glazing truths with honey will not take any business far as sooner or later you will be found out within the due diligence phase.
Having the attitude of sincerity in a negotiation is something I could never stress enough. We are used to being in situations where many unscrupulous dealers try to get away with deals that will only benefit their own. This is even more important when you are dealing with overseas parties with languages you cannot understand. In situations like these, actions will indeed speak louder than words.
A couple of companies we met really gave their all in our short 40-minute session. They not only provided a short demo of their products, but even went as far as giving us product samples to bring back which really shows their effort in attempting to strike a business deal with us.
This trade meeting was one of a kind experience which opened my eyes towards how other countries conduct their business meetings. The speed dating style has its merits by pushing both parties to be on point and not waste time on other minor necessities which plague many unfruitful business meetings of the past. By always being prepared not only in knowledge, but also a thorough understanding of their market and yours, you will then appear to be a business owner with high credibility that can give confidence towards any parties – be it local or overseas, the trust that they need and seek for.