You have had a successful run as Head of Sales for North American or European markets, selling those big ticket items costing somewhere between $100,000 to $1 million or more. For excavating newer grounds to expand business and continue the growth story, your corporation decides to establish a sales office in Asia, may be India or China, New-Delhi or Shanghai say.
The huge growing market in South/South-East Asia with it burgeoning population, consumption, rapid industrialization and modernization is a lure a few big companies can hope to ignore. And particularly when this is the place the epicentre of world economy would shift to in the future. Prospects of endless growth and expansion for next few decades are very strong.
So you are assigned the key responsibility of developing corporation X’s business in this region and you open up a sales office in New-Delhi or Mumbai (say), put in place a sales team and begin approaching potential customers. But in a few months time you realize that despite the potential the real fruits of this endeavour seem little difficult to come by. Customers are interested in your products and services but keeping delay their investments plans (which in sales world means No I don’t want to buy this coz I found something better or I got better plans to make use of my extra cash) or at most buy the product/services with least configuration giving you marginal returns.
Sitting dejected or horrified or puzzled and after having done to do a lot of explanation to the head-office in the west, you wonder what’s not clicking. What worked like breeze is not causing even a flutter in this region. The following questions come to your mind:
- Are we selling to the right people?
- Is our product too highly priced for this market?
- What about my margins if we drop the prices?
- Is competition facing similar problems?
- Do businesses here need our products/services anyway?
No doubt South/South-East Asia can be a difficult market for western companies. This market is highly commoditized and selling big tickets items can be a difficult task unless you got your sales strategy right. After having spoken with a lot of sales people, particularly in India, what comes out as an open secret to me is that if you are unable to convince your customers on the ROI from making a purchase, you are sure to get doomed in this market. Majority of companies here value their cash and experimentation with new products and technologies cannot go through without proper ROI justification.
Read on below to discover what could potentially be a game changer if you are in a similar situation:
1. Partner, not sell: You cannot just sell to these companies and hope for them to realize your product’s benefits. You need to act as a partner and participate in your customer’s growth story.
2. Consultative Selling: Your customers may not have the big bucks to hire a consulting firm to guide them on what to do next. You need to be a consultant yourself and help carve out a vision for your customers. And how your product can help achieve that vision.
3. Know your product: Is your sales staff just talking and hoping to make that sale? Are they well conversant with the technical know-how of the product? They MUST be. Traditional sales approach of making that neatly worded sales pitch cannot get you far. Hire people with some form of technical background so they know the product well, understand the customer’s pain areas and counsel accordingly.
4. ROI Determination: An approach based ROI determination strategy can work wonders. Demonstrate to your customers how adoption of your product/services can help them achieve an ROI in-line with their expectations and marking the purchase – “Value for money”.
5. Pitch against open-source: For those in technology selling, pitch your product against other open-source products. Show customers the benefits of adopting your product against other open-source platforms. Companies in this region love open-source as it helps to achieve things without a million dollar investment.
Re-engineering your sales strategy to include the above points can help to discover that gold mine you came looking for. I am sure there would some more points to add to the above list.
Please feel free to comment and help grow the list.