Buyer Beware

The first thing we did was the one thing we had been warned about. We entered the secret room. The shopkeeper said that he kept all the good bags in the back. To get through there, we went through a small door in the rear of the shop, through an antechamber with walls all made of mirrors, and into a narrow room with the lauded purses. The negotiation intensified quickly. The price was shouted louder, even if it did not go lower. From nowhere a second man appeared, standing behind me. The shouting went back and forth and I started to get nervous. Another Haas student had come with me, and we towered over these small Chinese men, but they were aggressive. I decided I did not want the bag and told the men. They remained unconvinced. After 5 minutes of practiced negotiations, we were able to get out of the secret room and get on with our shopping.

sapchina1Negotiating and understanding the culture was key to having an impact on SAP’s new product launch into the US. They knew the Chinese market well, but we had been brought in as consultants and ambassadors on the US small and medium business market. They were fantastic hosts, spending significant time with us helping us understand the depth of their product. They also took us to beers at the hot spots in Shanghai. We used design thinking to match our insights of the US market to the capabilities of the product to help them focus their development efforts on lighthouse customers to maximize their impact. This small but friendly team is taking on some established software players in the US.


It was a great experience to understand the growing software industry in China and the challenge of taking a new product to a new established market. The team has a lot of work ahead, but we hope that we were able to add some focus and clarity to the path to take. And the work ahead does not mean that we did not celebrate along the way. Ganbei!

-Team Red Dragons

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