It happens often that you send enquiries to the China suppliers you find online, but do not get any response after a few days, even a few weeks! Why do not the suppliers respond to your emails? Do not they want to do business and make money? It’s frustrating. In this article, let’s look at 5 ways that you can implement to improve the response rate.

1. Drafting detailed product requirements

An email with very limited information about what a buyer wants, is not taken too seriously, as it is a sign that the client is not invested in the process, i.e. hasn’t done his own research and hence the deal is not likely to close.

From my experience over the years, when we receive enquiries with very limited information we are almost certain those enquiries are not likely to result in business as the lead is simply not ready to import yet or are at a very early stage in the process.

So, making detailed product requirements can help you stand out in the supplier’s inbox, and make a big difference to your response rate. This tells the supplier that you understand the product and market well, hence are likely to be a serious importer.

2. Providing Order Details

Other than the product details, it is equally important to provide details about the “size” of the order. Every time you ask a supplier in China, for a quote, their first question would be, “what is your quantity”? If you do not provide this, they will ignore your enquiry, or sometimes quote based on MOQ.

Providing these details early helps ensure that there can be a match between you and the supplier because not every supplier would be right for your order quantity.

Other than the quantity, it also helps if you are upfront about your country of import, certification requirements & other important details like which incoterms do you want to be quoted for, i.e. FOB, CIF, etc.

3. Standing out as a hot prospect

Just like you are shortlisting suppliers, suppliers are shortlisting and qualifying leads too, so they can invest their limited human resources in chasing the best leads. So, it is important you come off as a hot prospect.

How do suppliers define a hot prospect? A hot prospect for a supplier would be someone:

1). Who is ready to buy from China “RIGHT NOW”

2). Has the capital to invest to at least meet their MOQ

3). Has great “repeat potential”

There are other factors but the above 3 are the most critical qualifying criteria. Because suppliers in most industries in China work with wafer-thin margins, “repeat-potential” is very important.

Other than approaching the supplier armed with product knowledge, you can appear as a “Hot Prospect” by:

1). Approaching as a business as opposed to an individual

2). Having a professional company website

3). Provide a company introduction. A couple of lines about your business and your previous China imports make a big difference, because new importer = low repeat potential.

4. Follow Up a Phone Call

This is where “culture difference” really comes to the fore. Just because you have sent an email to someone in China, does not mean they are obligated to reply. A phone call to let them know that you have sent them an email is often needed for them to take your email seriously.

This simple change alone in your approach to suppliers in China, can make a big difference in your response rate. Many westerners would argue that this is a sign that the supplier may be less than professional, while that may be true, this is a cultural difference, the faster you get to live with it, the easier to get to navigate the China landscape.

5. Visit China

Finally, if you are really not having luck getting enough responses from suppliers, or your product is truly unique, visiting China and meeting the supplier personally might be the best solution.


If you look at approaching suppliers like a “sales process”, you will find that a few tweaks in your approach can make massive differences to your response rate.


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