Due to the language barrier, cultural different, time zone difference, unfamiliarity with Chinese business manner, many buyers find it very difficult to get a reply to your inquiry. In many cases, you find a supplier online, you send an email or submit an inquiry form online, you wait for weeks but get no reply, then you call them, surprisingly, you found it is difficult to understand their English, or they don’t speak English at all. So how should we do to get prompt answer from the supplier when you contact them and how to communicate with them smoothly? Here are a few tips we want to share.

How to write a good email that makes sure the Chinese suppliers give you a proper answer?

– Use company email account. 
Don’t use email account from free email provider like yahoo mail, hotmail, aol mail. Using free email account will harm your company image and is considered very unprofessional. In practice, many suppliers are indifferent and arrogant to the inquiry using free email account.

– Complete description of the specifications
Try to give details about the items you are looking for, try not to be too general. An email inquiry with detailed specification normally will be seen as firm inquiry, the supplier will give their best attention to give a prompt and professional reply. A too general inquiry will make the suppliers think that you are an outsider or newcomer to the industry rather than established business. They will even think you are business spy trying to gather their trade secret, in that case, you will receive a slow and unfriendly quote (more expensive price and higher minimum order quantity).

– Signature
A proper and professional signature including name, title, company name, contact information and address. Email without a signature or a complete signature is considered unprofessional.

How to use telephone and instant messenger like MSN, Skype to speed up the response?

Email communication, in many cases, is very slow, mostly due to the time difference. You can use telephone or instant messenger to speed it up.

– Telephone
You will need to make sure that the contact you are calling speaks good English (spoken English). The fact is that many salesmen in Chinese companies don’t speak good spoken English even though their written English maybe seems perfect. So try to speak slowly on the telephone, write an email to confirm the conversation on telephone if it is really important.

– Instant Messenger

Instant Messenger is really popular and convenient to use. Chinese people use QQ more than other instant messenger like MSN, Skype, YM, AOL Messenger, Google Talk. For important issues, you will need to write an email to confirm the conversation on instant messenger.

Contacting suppliers on Alibaba.com

Download Alibaba trade manager (an instant messenger like MSN) for better communication with suppliers on Alibaba.  If the supplier is online, the status of the trade manager icon will turn light. If they are offline, it will turn grey. Trade manager can also be used to transfer files.

Sending message through inquiry form on Alibaba. Make a call too if the inquiry is urgent. You know, many suppliers don’t check their defaulted email of Alibaba account very often, in some extreme case, they never checked it. Make a phone call to back it up.


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