Connections and relationships. In the Chinese culture, when two business parties have Quanxi, the connections and relationships allows both to flourish as the two parties behave as close friends and help each other. Trade secrets are exchanged and support is provided.
Our client (name withheld, due to confidentiality) is one of the top two wind tower manufacturers in China, with a global presence. They are looking at my team for a market entry strategy into Australia. Our key contact is the CFO, with whom we have had two previous face to face meetings, and exchanges by email. As a team of foreign consultants, we had a delicate role to play. We bring to the table international and especially Australian experience, but needed to tread delicately on cultural issues we might face.
As the day progressed, we met with the CEO and Director of Sales. I demonstrated that I understood the heart of the problem by citing the case number and the intricate details of a previous Australian Commission ruling against the company. That alone made our client see us in a new light. We were not a bunch of students that needed to be hand-held. We came prepared and understood the heart of the problem. Not missing a beat, our other team member (Dom) pulled out his laptop and showed his detailed excel model that compiled all of the windfarms in Australia, in operation, under development, or planned for future development, with details around operators, partners, etc. So not only we came with understanding of the problem, but we also came with market intelligence.
We offered them a copy of the excel file. Understanding their position, and offering help, I believe, built a tremendous amount of Quanxi that day. Trade secret information was readily shared with us, behind closed doors. Key partners and vendors, current and future contract details, as well as workaround for legislative constraints were shared.
We also had the opportunity to visit their manufacturing plant first hand.
Image: At the plant, wind towers behind me Australia bound
Image: Inside a section of a wind tower
Image: Steel plant where wind towers are manufactured
After the visit, the CFO and the VP took the team out for lunch. While we said we would love to experience the food court food that they would normally eat, they reminded us that as guests visiting them for the first time, it was their responsibility to host us to the best meal that they could provide. And so we headed down by car to the next village, by the beach, where we sat down and enjoyed a sumptuous seafood lunch with all sorts of dishes on the table.
On the second day of the visit, we dressed a lot more casually than the first day, as we were invited to wear more comfortable shorts and t-shirts to cope with the heat and humidity. This day, we were accompanied by Prof Bruce McKern, to build the relationship with the University. This was a remarkable interaction for me to observe. As the senior person in the room, he was treated with all the respect he deserved. The CEO and VP came to meet with him, and offered him site visits, etc. and made him feel welcome. However, he did not have Quanxi. Real discussions with the team that contained deep details only resumed after he left the premises and headed back to Shanghai.
After all our meetings were concluded, we headed down to the beachside for a well-earned break while the CFO can get back to his office and complete his job for the day.
Image: Relaxing by the beach after a hard day’s work
In the evening, we were invited by our CFO for dinner at his place, where his mum cooked us dinner. I was initially apprehensive as I was going to his place in shorts and t-shirts. The apprehension was quickly put aside when his dad greeted us in his boxer shorts and singlet!
Image: Dinner at our Client’s apartment
We felt very much welcomed and at home. During dinner, as I was eating mostly the vegetarian and seafood options, his mum took notice, and quickly jumped into the kitchen to make more vegetarian food, so that I had enough to eat!
They told us that it was the first time they received foreigners in their home, and we felt touched by the length to which they went to make us feel welcome!