As anyone who has ever tried expanding into China can testify, the process of so doing can be fraught with difficulties: over and above the cultural and linguistical challenges, there are a raft of potential obstacles which include compliance with Government policies and labor laws, as well the obligations associated with insurance, leasing of offices and hiring of staff.
This having been said, the potential of this vast and fast growing market are simply too big to ignore: China is the world's fastest-growing major economy, with growth rates averaging 9.8% over the past 30 years and it could become the world's largest economy sometime as early as 2020.
If your Business transcends the national boundaries of your domestic market, China should therefore be at the top of your list of countries to target as part of your globalization efforts. Understandably though, the difficulties associated with entering China often act as a barrier for taking the first tentative steps into this enormous market.
However, there is a way to circumvent these obstacles - instead of committing yourself to the costs and headaches associated with opening an office in China, you can easily create the impression to potential Chinese customers or partners that you are already operational there by creating a virtual one instead.
Reading an English language only website and calling an overseas number remains a practical and psychological barrier for people in most countries, including China. It is therefore important that prospects can contact you in Chinese and by means of a domestic telephone number, as opposed to an international one.
Inbound calls to your Chinese number must be answered in Mandarin or Cantonese, depending on which region of China the caller is located. Call center agents that answer such calls must be trained so that they have at least a basic understanding of your particular product or service. They should then make available to you such leads in English. Any follow-up activity should of course be conducted in the caller's native language.
Your new Chinese number can then easily be added to the 'contact us' section of your website which thanks to the global architecture of the World Wide Web all potential customers located in China will be able to see. Even better, you can create a Chinese section of your website and there are a wide range of translation companies who will only be too happy to help you in this process.
If you elect to have a Chinese standalone version of your website, then work with a company that can help you get listed on Baidu, China's answer to Google. Doing so will greatly improve the chances of being found by potential Chinese customers who are actively seeking out your particular goods or services.
By establishing a virtual Chinese office, you will be able to capitalize on the opportunities on the afforded by this colossal market at a fraction of the costs and risks associated with setting up a real one.