Sunday, July 26, 2009

"The Last Inch" (maybe only in America)

A recent post from SAMBA about trying to close sales. I highlight this post not because I disagree with the concept or the emphasis. It's like the old Glengarry Glen Ross scene with Alex Baldwin about ABC (Always Be Closing). I highlight this post because of a comment made by one of our guest speakers this weekend. I won't disclose their name (due to the nature of their work), but the speaker is a WFU MBA graduate that runs a successful International business with a focus on US-China opportunities.

Our speaker's company often acts an intermediary for US (or Western European) companies attempting to do business in China, often for the first time. He said one of their client's biggest mistakes is often believing that a signed contract is the end of the negotiations. That it actually means something. He cautioned us that this is often not the case. In fact, it often should be considered the first step in the real negotiations. In China, there is a concept called "a chop". A chop is a physical stamp (from a device called a "chop") that is much closer to a valid/legal signature than the one signed on the dotted line on the contract.

It's also worth noting that many deals require more than one chop, just like many projects in the US require more than one license. The bigger the project, the more chops you may need. For example, our visit in Beijing with United Family Hospitals (Chindex) shared a story about starting a second hospital in Shanghai that required 186 chops.

So I agree with the gang over at SAMBA, make sure you're finding ways to get the deal closed. But also make sure you know the context of your environment, so that signature (or chop) actually means something.
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