December 21st 2021

Success factors for doing business in China.

 © MCI


Joerg Storm’s exemplary career and his international experience in Asia make him an expert when it comes to doing business in an intercultural setting like China.  He has been working for Mercedes-Benz for over 20 years in various positions (Sales, Strategy, Audit, IT) and international assignments (Japan, USA, China). In his current position, he is in charge of Development and Operation of local and global Aftersales Applications, as well as driving the digital transformation journey of the Daimler China Aftersales Business.

Located at Daimler Greater China Headquarter in Beijing for the past five years, Storm has been able to identify several success factors for business partnerships in China, which he liked to share.

Do proper research of the Chinese market, because there are many differences from the Western world; while everyone talks about Google and WhatsApp in Europe, no one in China knows that but uses WeChat instead, which is mandatory for many business areas if you have a joint business partner.

Understand the complex legal environment

Find the right local partner and choose partners wisely

Understand politics, JV & knowledge transfer requirements: politics is different China. Many companies wanting to sell their products in the Chinese market need a joint venture, which requires an intensive knowledge transfer.

Deal with the right decision makers

Customize your training and products for the Chinese market requirements and needs.

Speak Chinese and know the culture: This is definitely a unique selling point - you MUST have Chinese language skills. If you really want to work in a Chinese company or start-up, they won't take you without knowledge because you can't communicate with the team.

Mind China’s speed: while in meetings with German teams one can hear the statement: “oh, this is difficult, we did this in the past and it didn’t work” the Chinese say “OK” and get to work; The Mercedes slogan “twice as fast” could be a fitting comparison for China here as everything is much faster.

Accept Fresh ideas - when TikTok started, the West was sceptic, but see where TikTok is now.

Apply “Guanxi”: The “I help you, you help me” motto is very important in business relationships as people are extremely hard working an rely on each other.

Adapt your management style an learn to negotiate

With all these factors listed the bottom line is: “Don’t underestimate China!”