How to cold email Chinese factories – includes template script
Have you ever found a list of 10 factories on alibaba, sent out a bunch of emails, and gotten basically no response? I hear this complaint all the time- from people who think that the Chinese factories are a bunch of jokers.
When I email factories, their response rate is 90% or better.
What am I doing differently? And who is really a joker?
Flip the script
When a factory (or trader, or anyone) advertises on alibaba, their sales guy is inundated with emails. Most of those emails are from tire-kickers who will never make a purchase- the buyers are either dreamers, or they are trying to get price quotes to use to negotiate with their current factory.
So your job in sending an email is to establish that you are a legitimate customer who actually wants to do business. In other words, credibility.
An actual email I sent to a factory that is now a supplier
I am looking for a 40' of rubber olympic weightlifting bumper plates for the US market. If our initial order goes well, I think I can order a 40' every month.
Can we begin discussing this business?
My skype is xxx and my US mobile is 1.512.xxx.xxxx. We have been selling these weights very well from a US supplier so far.
Peter Keller VP FringeSport M- 512.xxx.xxxx S- xxx http://www.fringesport.com/
Let’s break this email down
- From- I use an actual company email address, not a gmail or other “personal” email address
- Subject- A little wordy, but right to the point. I note what I am looking for, and for what market
- To- I found this address on the website of the factory. I found this factory on Panjiva.
- Good day!- I always try to start my emails with some salutation, then quickly get down to business
- I am looking for a 40′ of rubber olympic weightlifting bumper plates for the US market. If our initial order goes well, I think I can order a 40′ every month.- I let the factory know the exact commodity I am looking for, and the quantity I can place for my first order. Then I let them know that my first order is not a fluke- I want to create a long-term business with frequent reorders. Due to my experience in this market, I know the factory’s Minimum Order Quantity (MOQ) is likely 4-5 pallets of plates. A container is about 12 pallets, so I am cresting the presumable MOQ by quite a bit.
- My skype is xxx and my US mobile is 1.512.xxx.xxxx. We have been selling these weights very well from a US supplier so far- I provide additional contact info here. Most Chinese factories are on Skype- so it is convenient to chat and negotiate this way. I also mention that we are currently selling a similar product- so we have experience in the market.
- My signature- I provide additional contact information here. Note that I list myself here as the VP. I don’t like to cold email factories as the CEO- I feel like this gives off the odor of “small company” since in a large company, the CEO would not likely be cold emailing factories about small orders.
- In general- I chunk the information in the email, breaking up the text into discrete paragraphs. I use small, commonly-used words, and I don’t ask for a whole list of things.
The goal of the first email
The goal of your initial email is to establish yourself as a legitimate lead for their sales team, and to get a response from which you can elaborate.
What I didn’t ask for in the first email
I didn’t ask for any actionable information on this email! On the factory’s reply, they did not include the pricing, their lead times, terms of sale, or anything else. All they did is reply and express their interest in talking about business.
This means the factory considers me a credible lead- and not just some yahoo who tossed off an email. Once you get contact with the factory, then it’s time to work on these things.
So when do you find out the pricing, lead times and more?
I usually follow up on an email like this with a chat conversation on Skype. I do this at night (US time) so I am contacting the factory sales guy during his workday. I like Skype since I get a bit of a feel for the style of the sales person, and I am able to have a back-and-forth discussion. This back-and-forth can condense days or even weeks of email conversations into a 30 minute Skype session.
Did I miss anything?
Let me know in the comments. Whether you are a newbie with unanswered questions, or a seasoned China hand, I love all input and feedback.
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