By ZCLong | FOB Business Forum
As a foreign trade salesperson, my days were spent tirelessly working in front of the computer, seeking new customers, responding to inquiries, sending product samples, and managing various foreign trade tasks. Like any other salesperson, I experienced the thrill of successfully closing deals and the disappointment of negotiations that fell through. But amidst the ups and downs of the business, one particular customer, Mike, would lead me on a tortuous negotiation journey that would test my principles and determination.
First foreign trade cooperation with this customer
It all began with an unexpected email from Mike, representing a potential customer from country X. To my surprise, he didn’t request a quotation but asked for product samples directly. Curious, I replied and asked for more details about his requirements. Unfortunately, there was no response, and I thought it was the end of it.
However, during the Spring Canton Fair, Mike resurfaced, inquiring about our booth number. Upon learning that we weren’t participating in the fair, he asked whether we could send the product samples he had requested earlier. Intrigued by his persistence, I agreed to send the samples and provided the necessary information. To my delight, Mike quickly received the samples and expressed interest in placing an order.
After negotiating the terms, Mike placed his first order, and everything seemed to be going smoothly. The initial order wasn’t substantial, but Mike was satisfied with the product quality and paid promptly. I felt a sense of accomplishment, believing I had gained a reliable customer.
The Peculiar Freight Dispute
As time went on, Mike showed interest in more of our products, including some wooden display racks. However, this is where the negotiation took an unexpected turn. Following the October Canton Fair, Mike requested modifications to the wooden display rack samples. Knowing that these were bulky items, I suggested taking pictures of the new samples for confirmation, ensuring they met his requirements. Surprisingly, Mike insisted on having the physical samples sent to him.
When I informed him about the substantial courier fee, Mike hesitated to pay it upfront, arguing that he had already spent a considerable amount on sending previous samples. However, our company policy required customers to cover freight costs before shipment. This disagreement over the freight payment led to growing tension between us, and Mike began to question my trust in him.
Despite the mounting frustration, I maintained my professionalism and firmly reiterated our company policy. However, Mike was becoming increasingly angered by my refusal to budge on the matter. He even threatened to seek other suppliers who might be more accommodating to his preferences.
The Disappearance and Persistence
As the dispute reached a stalemate, Mike suddenly went silent. He stopped responding to my emails and calls. I was puzzled by his sudden disappearance and wondered if he had found another supplier. Still, there was one thing I couldn’t comprehend: despite the freight disagreement, he had already invested a substantial amount in sending us samples; it didn’t make sense for him to suddenly ignore our communication.
Refusing to give up on this potentially valuable customer, I decided to maintain communication by sending holiday greetings regularly. While my messages went unanswered, I hoped that Mike would eventually reconsider and resume negotiations.
The Unexpected Turnaround
My persistence eventually paid off. After several months of silence, Mike finally reappeared in my inbox. He initiated a new negotiation but took a different approach this time. He wanted to confirm the order, but instead of sending the entire sample, he suggested that we only ship the necessary accessories for his assessment. He cited cost concerns as the reason for this change in strategy.
Recognizing that this could be an opportunity to reignite the negotiation, I quickly prepared and sent the requested accessories. Mike examined them thoroughly and, to my relief, proceeded to place the order.
The Triumph of Perseverance
Through this challenging negotiation experience with Mike, I learned valuable lessons that would stay with me throughout my career in foreign trade. Dealing with customers like Mike, who possessed strong opinions and temperamental tendencies, taught me the importance of maintaining a tactful and diplomatic approach. Rather than meeting confrontation with confrontation, I discovered that patience and a calm demeanor could go a long way in resolving disputes.
Furthermore, I understood that adhering to company policies and principles was crucial, even if it meant taking the risk of losing a potential order. My unwavering commitment to integrity and quality convinced Mike to reconsider his position and ultimately continue doing business with us.
This arduous journey also reinforced the significanc e of persistence and the belief that successful negotiations required perseverance, even when faced with obstacles and setbacks. My determination to remain in touch with Mike during his period of silence demonstrated to him that we were committed to maintaining a strong and reliable business relationship. In the end, Mike’s turnaround and successful order placement were a testament to the power of perseverance, dedication, and customer-centricity in the world of foreign trade. This tale serves as a reminder that amidst the ever-changing landscape of international business, it is the unwavering pursuit of excellence, the resolve to uphold principles, and the resilience to weather challenges that pave the path to success and long-lasting partnerships.
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