Partnership Leaders APAC Channel Partner KPIs

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The following video is a talk I did for Partnership Leaders talking about the partnership ecosystem in APAC with a focus on Japan. 

Transcript (auto-generated by YouTube):

uh at least locally here so i’ll go ahead all right so partnership leaders member
roundtable um it says apac go to market kpis uh
really because of my experience this is very japan centric but i’ll try and throw in some apec knowledge as well
so a little introduction for the benefit of those on the recording so evan berkowski
i been in japan for almost 20 years now working in digital marketing uh
specializing in ai analytics uh conversion optimization customer experience
optimization cro world so i first arrived in japan um with the idea to do an
import business uh and that became my um
quite hard to do so the first business i i did in the second year here was an english school uh and eventually reached a point of
maximum expansion with that so i co-founded a marketing agency much more
easy to expand and then that evolved into founding a software
startup and a few other companies after that and then i moved to uh agency side so i
worked at a company called e-agency which was google’s largest solutions partner so we’re providing
consulting services around google analytics premium and that became the 360 suite
and i was the sales manager there i built a team to sell and service software and
our primary solution became optimizely so i helped them enter the japanese market and got some
first hand experience about the silicon valley style of sas sales i tried to hybridize that and apply it
to the japanese market after that i worked at j walter thompson so
that is japan’s oldest foreign ad agency uh got a look at the media world and we
were trying to look at uh digital transformation from a big data perspective
and then i started using my experience helping companies enter the japanese market to become a market entry
consultant so i’ve done that for several companies now including parsley an analytics company recently acquired
by wordpress uh and full story and then most recently dynamic yield so
dynamic yield uh initially i helped them enter the japanese market and then became the country manager
uh so going on two years doing that so that’s given me you know a look into japan’s um
you know very unique ecosystem both from the vendor side and from the partner side and i’ve had the opportunity to work
with quite a lot of partners in japan during that time uh as well as
throughout asia pacific so although this talk will again be very um japan centric because that’s my
experience i’ll try and talk a little bit about the wider apac region as well
i have worked uh i’ve closed deals you know in japan in south korea australia taiwan
hong kong malaysia and thailand so i know a little bit about working in those various markets
and today we’re going to talk about that talk about japan the channel partner ecosystem in
japan talk about you know commonly tracked
partner kpis some recommended kpis cultural considerations for selling in
this region and a little bit about japan centric sales processes
i just thought i’d share some knowledge because this is what i know the most about and then general business culture right
now in this post-pandemic world or with corona as it’s called in japan
right so first a little bit about the ecosystem in this region
and before i get right into this i’ll just talk a little bit about the wider region so one thing that i found
a lot of software companies oh and another caveat my experience has been very much in the
sas world so i will be focused mostly on the sas business model uh but it applies
to the wider software and uh it market and then to quite a few other you know industries
and uh types of business models when entering this region um but one thing that i’ve really found
working in this region is that a lot of companies try to take a a sort of regional hub approach
which is they’ll they’ll open an aipac office and somewhere whether that be singapore tokyo or
sydney they’ll try and create a regional hub to service the entire region
and and for the most part i actually don’t recommend doing that i’ve analyzed a lot of companies who’ve
tried to enter this region and whether they’re selling through partners or selling direct
the results are generally the same it’s such a wide region there’s so much linguistic and cultural
fragmentation that uh without getting a solid foothold in each market first it’s very difficult to
manage from a single hub dynamic guild had a similar experience and this pretty much follows the pattern
there was a singapore office going back several years but it was very hard to service the
entire region so what i do recommend is picking your largest market
um that’s often australia first because of the you know common language uh
australia is generally considered uh the next market to test after north america because the culture is very
similar to north america um so a lot of companies will start their office there if you can get a foot
in the ground and build a good uh partner ecosystem there that’s a good place to do it uh increasingly singapore
is more attractive due to tax incentives and again you know english competency and
sometimes depending on your business or your customer base somewhere like tokyo can be a good place as well
so you start with a a good market where you can get enough customers to support a team locally
i will say one thing although i’m a big fan of singapore and i think business is very easy to do there
singapore is a very small market so if you’re actually selling to the singapore market uh most of the other
companies located in singapore are also regional hubs so
there isn’t actually that much of a large domestic market especially for uh b2b or
enterprise level sas software uh so it it’s often better to start somewhere like japan
now this is the strategy that i recommend for a company like dynamic yield or for most of the companies i’ve worked
with start where your largest potential market is and if you do a good you know total
addressable market analysis that should tell you where you’re able
to start or where you naturally create your first partnerships that’s where you probably want to start
so one reason why this presentation is so japan centric in addition to my personal experience
it’s also because i find japan is a good place to start in this region it is
the largest actual uh enterprise software market in asia pacific
uh and it is the third largest uh sas market in the world all right so the specifics about the
channel partner ecosystem here a lot of these are just the basics but i’m sort of outlining them
you know for anybody who might be new to this world you’ve got your referral partners solutions partners reseller partners
agencies and consultancies so referral partners in japan this can be very important
most business is in this region and this goes for i would say you know chinese-speaking
cultures as well as south korea and perhaps the wider region
things are very much relationship-based so it can be very valuable to get a
referral often referral partners are consultants or just well-connected people uh often who are
late stage in their career you know they’ve worked for a long time at somewhere they’ve built a vast personal network
and those personal relationships open doors for example i i know a couple of people
at denso who are now in their 60s or 70s
but they could pick up the phone and call pretty much anybody in japan and get a meeting so these type of door openers are very
valuable um extremely valuable for getting initial introductions however that’s usually all they do uh
they’ll get you an initial meeting but they’re they have no ability to uh
follow up or or you know to help you go through all of the stages to close the deal it really is just that initial referral
and that’s all they do and they do specialize on it and do that very well um
but if you want follow-up you probably need to work with a solutions partner so solutions partners obviously you know
provide services they provide consulting services and solutions and support for technology in a region
like japan where people don’t speak that much english they can provide your first level of
support in japanese so they’re like a bridge they’ll take all of your various customer inquiries and frequently asked
questions and and support issues and then pass them on to an english speaking team at hq
often solutions partners are able to sell to their existing network they may provide or they may represent other software
they may have other consulting services so they can sell to their existing network and sell to their
customers who are using software that may be complementary to yours that’s a cross-sell or an upsell
they’re usually able to both open and close the deals they’ll have actual marketing staff to create an
inbound funnel and sdrs to follow up with it as well as account executives or sales directors uh to work the deal cycle and they may
have some outbound business capability as well although that’s usually limited to reaching out to their existing
network and again cross-selling or upselling to that network
they can assist with marketing efforts in terms of doing webinars localizing content doing press releases
creating case studies and so on in the local language and of course this is very important
across apac and then you’ve got your reseller partners so reseller partners they tend to you
know take ownership of the deal and the customer relationship with a good reseller partner they manage
they may manage the entire relationship and rather than co-selling you may not even
have much contact with the end customer they are often the most able to drive sales
they’re incentivized i usually have structured reseller
partner deals with about a um i would say an industry average of about 25 up to 35 percent
uh commission on the first year arr so whether you’re doing that
uh on it as a discount on list price uh and then the agency may mark that
back up again and provide their services on top of that uh they’re incentivized by this deal commission to do all of the hard work
and to hire the necessary people to run sales
however there is a limitation in japan and i find that this is common to
all partner types they’re excellent farmers uh they’re able to do excellent
account management um you know get you through the very long deal cycle in japan
uh keep the customers happy but they are almost without exception
very poor hunters um which means that they’re not really able to go out and
and get new deals they’re not really able to go to make new relationships even a reseller partner incentivized by
a large part of deal commission is going to have a culturally a very hard time
going out and talking to people that they don’t know at all they have to sell to their existing
network or they have to get a personal referral to someone in order to start a new
conversation and this is uh you know certainly very true in japan i’ve seen it to be very true in
south korea as well but i think it’s again it’s pretty common to the wiser wider asia pacific world is that it’s
just hard to get past all of the cultural barriers to talk to someone that you don’t know
or that you don’t have a friend to introduce you to for this reason a hybrid model a
co-selling model or even a direct sales model can often be the most effective way to get new
business because if you have bilingual multicultural sales staff who’ve been
trained in a more western a hunter type model whether that be hunting with you know
nets or spears going out and creating a new relationship
is something that people are able to do if they’re not uh completely entrenched in the local
culture if they’re not so native that um they’re sort of beholden to the cultural norms
uh with a little bit of an international team it’s a lot easier to go out and and start new conversations start new
relationships uh and get your sales going that way uh all right now agencies um i this might actually be
sort of japanese english uh i’ve been in japan so long sometimes i forget what is native english and what isn’t
but when we say agency in japan we’re usually talking about media agencies um
and certainly in japan because uh these companies own so much of the
market they are the uh you know the gorilla in the room as it were
um now there the entire media agency world in japan is currently going uh
undergoing a massive transition um so the three big silos
are number one denture that’s the single largest ad agency in japan and i think the densa aegis
network densa international is still the largest media agency in the world
so number two is hakka hodo they’ve always been the number two to denzes number one um
so they try very hard they’re often a very good partner to have because they as the underdog they try so hard and
then adk assats dk they’re the third sort of silo and almost every other
agency even consulting agencies or systems integrator is somehow aligned with those three
silos when i worked at um e-agency we were aligned with the adk silo and so
when i first started there wasn’t actually an outbound sales culture because all of the all of the work came down the
pipeline from adk it was all referrals within this single silo and that’s how most agencies do business
in japan um but again it is changing because the consulting world is coming and eating so
much of the traditional media agency pi that they have to get more competent at
their consulting services the value-added services so the old business model of course
was ad placements taking a commission on creative or media placement
that’s no longer enough so now it’s often not just acquisition but also conversion
optimization uh making sure that um you know the the ad campaigns
are accountable that they’re actually showing an roi and of course this requires the digital
world to show roi on on media spend so it’s kind of dragging them these
agencies kicking and screaming out of their comfort zone in the tv world uh in into the digital world
now of course again this is very japan centric but japan has like six or maybe seven
uh terrestrial tv channels and uh they own everything you know every every
with such a limited number of channels everybody in japan watches the same few tv channels and and so they’re all
seeing the same advertising and companies like denso they just absolutely own
almost the level of thought control of the populace this world so it’s very hard for them to shift out of it
they’re lagging behind in their digital transformation for this reason in some ways they see
the online world as cannibalizing their traditional tv world and print media world uh but things are
changing out of necessity uh and this is partly because of the global agencies the foreign global
agencies in japan that are leading this charge so wunderman thompson uh i think was last year the year before
the merger between um j walter thompson where i used to work and wonderman has created the new
combined agency warner and thompson commerce is uh increasingly very strong uh in this
region and then the traditional uh you know their sort of cohorts like uh
publicis uh merkel and so on uh merkel being more and more a a
consultancy rather than a media company uh so the other consultancies um
in japan transcosmos is very strong they actually started in the call center world
so they used to do outsourced you know basically answering the phones and then they got into uh outsourced
website management website creation and now they’re into conversion optimization personalization and so on
uh and then there are other companies like gap rise who specialize in bridging the market between japan and
other nations especially israeli startups ad flex and principal these are all
agencies that i’ve worked with and then the big ones like accenture imj
uh deloitte pwc nielsen and so on so they’re moving more and more into the
it world martech world with more and more analytics and big data
and then the systems integrators uh so this again is unique to japan but
i’ve come across it in taiwan and hong kong and some other markets as well uh but especially in japan the systems
integrator world is extremely fragmented we don’t see many global systems integrators in japan
instead we see thousands tens of thousands of of small niche companies uh
just incredibly fractured there’s a culture in japan of outsourcing to these
companies and that’s one reason why almost everybody outsources to them and so there it supports a large number of
them but there’s no standardization they all try to do custom development and they all want to
they’re very protectionist so they try and lock their customers into their legacy systems these are almost always uh boxed
software systems not sas so customers are are very often trapped in
legacy systems that are several years out of date and so if you’re trying to sell sas in
japan you have to be aware of this because you’ll often get trapped on something like a cms that’s
hasn’t been updated for 10 years and the php version is way out of date and the database doesn’t work correctly and so
on uh so you have to be aware of this um it’s it’s almost unavoidable these
companies are so entrenched that they often not just build the website
and back-end systems but manage everything as well and they are the gatekeepers so they’re potentially very useful
allies as well because if you want to sell new software into this market uh often they are the decision makers or
or at least the stakeholders um now the the channel partner ecosystem in general
uh in this market it it’s good for priming the pump i wouldn’t say that uh you know a
partner sales model should be your only strategy
a good channel partner it helps prime the pump gets the initial flywheel spinning but it’s not enough to
build a self-sustaining sales engine ultimately you have to build a co-selling model or you have to build
eventually a direct sales model and this has been the case time and time again if you look at
oracle and salesforce and marketo all of the the large especially sas
companies that have entered the japanese market this is always the case they’ll often work with a channel partner for the first few years but
eventually they outgrow the usefulness of that partnership
or they need to even even if they maintain the partnership for many years and and that happens as well they do ultimately
have to build their own direct sales engine now this is partly again because
channel partners are so often great account managers great farmers but not very good hunters in order to
grow the market beyond the personal network that the channel partner already owns
you very often have to build your own direct sales model and the only way to do that is with a hybrid model that
takes the best of the sort of western uh very incentivized commission based sales
model and hybridizes that with the japanese model and we’ll talk more about that in a slide or two um so again you’re
you know you’re you’re able to get a good head start uh with a good channel partner ecosystem uh
so for the first year or two it’s always the best way to get into the market they’re leveraging their existing
relationships again they’re they’re cross-selling uh they’re packaging your tech with existing tech and wrapping their support
services around it to create a very easily marketable package and they can assist with you know the
localization the translation which is a huge lift you know it’s very difficult to localize your site and your
marketing materials and your sales process and and your your um you know inbound uh lead gen everything
in into uh the local languages uh so having a good partner to assist with all this uh is essential all right so
what sort of kpis should you be tracking once you get a good partner network set up well some commonly tracked partner kpis
are just how many partners you have in the region and obviously you know it it’s good to
have a few key partners but this metric number of partners in the region it
that alone doesn’t really tell us anything uh so you you might spend a lot of time in
your first year or two signing up you know five partners or ten partners and hq may
feel that this is making progress but it’s not always the most effective use of time it first
of all it takes a very long time to sign up partners in this region just localizing your partner agreements and
getting through the legal process can take six months to a year to to longer in some cases
so it can often be more effective to focus on developing a few you know very meaningful deep partner
relationships with partners who have either a very targeted network
or a big enough network that they can drive a lot of sales volume so you’re not you know essentially
running dry in the first year or two but there’s there’s enough potential to get you for through a couple of years
at least uh so another commonly tracked metric is
deal registrations um yeah so sure it’s good to track how
many deals you’re registering and this can be through both you know inbound and outbound sales activities
but again not very meaningful without insight into how many touch points does
it take to close these deals what’s the overall time to close uh
what are your overall close rates uh per salesperson and so on so just the number of deal registrations
it often isn’t enough uh without these more ancillary metrics to to give you
insight and again you know in your first year or two you have to be aware of this initial partner spike that you’re going to get
when a partner first signs up they almost always drive an initial spike during that first six months to a
year because they’re just cross-selling but after that spike it can often completely plateau
because again they’ve just run their network dry and they’re not able to go out and hunt and create new leads uh another metric that’s
commonly tracked would be revenue via partners um this yeah i mean if you’re making
money you’re making money that’s good but it’s most meaningful when it’s accurately tied to attribution so you
can see how much runway you have how much future there is with this partner and their overall marketing
effectiveness i.e can they continue to generate revenue uh then another you know common kpi
is the number of people trained and certified um yeah this this can be a good metric because it indicates how committed they
are uh if they’re not getting anybody trained or certified on your tech um you know it’s it’s not likely that
they’re ever going to be successful uh but you know you could get 200 people trained and if you never
actually close a deal then it’s meaningless so uh sure it’s good to track how many
people are trained but it’s most meaningful when it’s actually tied to win rates uh all right so more
recommended partner kpis these are some of the kpis that um you know both i found personally and
uh my mentors have told me and my research has shown me uh to be more effective
so first of all partner engagement uh are they regularly logging into the partner portal uh
whether that be some software that you’re using like a bridged sales force or something like that or just a google sheet where you’re
tracking deals are they you know logging in every day or every week
at least and registering what’s going on in the pipeline are they completing training in a
reasonable amount of time are they registering you know both the
the leads that they’re generating from their marketing activities uh and how the deals are going so
as well as you know actual meaningful metrics like the number of touch points the time to close
what type of conversations they’re having are they emailing more are they phoning or is it all zoom calls
you know what what exactly are the metrics they’re using uh and then partner capabilities so this is a
good kpi because you want to know if they can both sell uh create new business and retain that business
if their churn rate is too high obviously it’s it’s not uh not valuable uh so
look for ways to measure their their pre-sales their technical sales competency
uh their ability to implement correctly onboard support and then get to the renewal
one thing i’ve found in this region is that a lot of partners especially the sort of
aggressive partners who will reach out for a relationship they tend to be the underdogs
they’re usually number two or three in their field and so they’re more aggressive and
they’re looking for you know foreign companies to partner with but this often means that they’re
very small and they may not have the necessary resources to actually do full technical
implementation and consulting or they’ll often say that they can and
then it turns out that they have to outsource it so they’re working as part of a team you know they’ll work
with another systems integrator or they’ll work with an outsourced development company or something like that
so it’s good to evaluate you know whether they actually have the capabilities to not just sell but also you know on board
train maintain and support all right then marketing effectiveness this is a good
kpi can they engage in solo uh both solo and joint marketing activities which lead to
a good percentage of meetings booked and can they do this consistently beyond just the first year
and are they continuing to invest in generating localized case studies so
it’s it’s not just a matter of getting new deals it’s a matter of publicizing them
and then making sure that you’re creating good case studies so that you can get referrals uh again this is kind of japan centric
but i’ve found it to be pretty true across the entire region um word of mouth uh
perception um what people are actually saying about your product is absolutely essential uh
one single negative perception is like 100 times stronger than positive so it’s very important to get
localized case studies i’ve always said there’s a rule in japan that it doesn’t matter how good
your case study is if it didn’t happen in japan it didn’t happen japan is just so
different from the rest of the world that if you haven’t had a success story that
worked in this market they assume it’s just not going to work for this market so it’s very important to get local case
studies and then it’s good to measure customer satisfaction with your partners
so you can do independent um you know net promoter scores or you can do
independent surveys or just talk with your customers uh find out you know if you’ve got the
right partner match for the right customer um you know and sometimes this isn’t the case and
it’s often good if you’ve created a large enough partner network for the region that you have multiple options it’s
often good you know to go to a prospect um especially if you’re if you’re
generating leads through your own efforts uh go to the prospect and ask which
partner they would like to work with say maybe they’ve worked with this media partner before for some acquisition maybe they’ve
worked with this partner for some consulting or cro uh let them choose who they feel most comfortable working with because often
you know certainly this is the case in japan but across the wider region as well if it’s a large enough partner
they’ll have worked with your customer and that customer will most likely have worked with some other potential partners as well
and they’ll know who they’re comfortable working with okay so uh i’ll go now to
you know a bit more japan centric uh again you know this is my area of
expertise so this is where i can talk to uh the most uh
but many of these are applicable to the wider region as well so obviously uh trust is key
again the traditional japanese sales process is entirely relationship based
it is extremely high touch very important to have regular contact
again referrals and word of mouth are essential and you have to develop and maintain
relationships over years and years and this means you know going for dinner with your
customers and with your partners you know going for drinks obviously
drinking is still a big part of business across all of apac and i think it will be even post coved
when we’re going back to shops again because it’s just a part of the culture that it’s very hard to speak
directly partly because of social hierarchies whether they be seniority or age based
or what have you just very very difficult to have a frank an open conversation
unless there’s the excuse of i’d been having a couple of drinks so it’s
really funny i’ve seen time and time again when i’ve gone for dinner with my my japanese colleagues or co-workers
or customers you know we’ll all sit down
the it’s still very formal and stuffy atmosphere everybody’s got their tie on and stuff
you’ll sit down the drinks will come you’ll do the kampai you know the cheers and uh the
person that you want to talk to will have like one sip of their beer
lean back and like oh okay i’m drunk now we can talk and and then they’ll talk frankly
uh it’s funny after just one sip they have this uh cultural excuse um and often what
what they’re trying to say is what they couldn’t say uh directly in a meeting um and this can
be absolutely essential because uh the way most meetings are held in in
this region is you’ve got a lot of people in the meeting it’s often a lot of junior people and then
mid-level management and and senior management stakeholders and you don’t necessarily know who
is what position who is the most senior person in the room and they often won’t talk and sometimes
they’ll even look like they’re asleep or literally be asleep and the junior people have to carry the meeting
also you know it’ll seem like a meeting might go on for two hours and a lot be said but you come out of
the meeting not knowing what the decision was what the consensus was or what the people on the other side of the table are even
thinking so you have to have a champion or a stakeholder that you can
follow up with to find out what people were actually thinking because of the very strong groupthink
culture in the region people just don’t want to speak their opinion they don’t certainly don’t want
to be the only one speaking their opinion so they they’ll wait and they’ll do some consensus building back of the office or
sort of reading the air and looking for nonverbal cues and stuff to find out what the whole team thinks and then as a
team they’ll come to a general consensus and if you’ve got a good champion you can follow up with that person usually
over dinner or drinks to find out what actually happened in that meeting and how their site actually
feels now this is changing because of course you know during a pandemic
uh you can’t meet up for drinks and and get this um you know inside track on what your
your contact is thinking and feeling uh so that has shifted more to like instant messenger if you’ve
managed to connect on on whatsapp or the japanese equivalent um would be line
or uh i’m forgetting the other one wechat or whatever these are or facebook messenger
if you’ve got a direct contact line uh to your champion you can often message them afterwards
and uh have a more frank conversation so i always try to get an instant messenger
contact um and then try to follow up you know within that day or later that night or a
day or two later to find out what was actually going on and that’s where you find out what what the actual consensus was um all
right so part of this consensus building necessity leads to a very long sales cycle uh easily three times that of the usa or
email and this is partly because of a culture of very much preparation uh things are
very process based so it’s often like 80 preparation 20 execution
which is often the inverse of the western model where we want to feel like we can you know do most of the work on the fly
and then work out a few details as we get to it as necessity arises but certainly in japan
people want to be as process based as possible they want to mitigate risk
and so a very long preparation cycle whether it’s going through the legal process or
going through every possible permutation of a contract and what might go wrong uh that can take months and months it
can even take years but once all of that work is done they’ll sign and expect implementation to happen like
immediately so you know a very long process and then all of a sudden things are going very very slowly all of
a sudden they’ll go very very quickly so you have to be ready for that um when it’s go time you have to move
quickly now again part of the reason why it’s like eighty percent preparation preparation
is because internal alignment is key uh all stakeholders uh have to sign off
in japan they have to literally sign off they have to stamp a consensus document which is called a
lingisho which means the circle document so basically it goes around it’s a document that’s
printed up whether it be a purchase order or a contract or a hiring decision or even the the smallest sort of most
insignificant seeming things every potential stakeholder attached to that decision and even people who it seems have no
attachment to the decision but just out of tradition have to be included this document is literally put on their
desk and they have to literally sign off on it on this these
chops that are created in khan and everybody uh signs and if there’s a
single con dissenting person then it gets held up so you know if if tanaka’s out on holiday
or sick or something that document sits on his desk until he comes back and physically signs it
this is changing actually this morning’s news article is that uh 99
of these stamp requiring policies are going to be eliminated at the government level and this is
partly driven by the pandemic because uh this paper-based workflow was preventing people from being able to
do remote work so it’s changing but it’ll be decades probably before it’s completely
gone and there will always be this uh stakeholder alignment necessity um now this is partly because
decision making uh in this culture is always done by committee in order to mitigate the risk to individuals
uh and this is because of the way that career advancement happens
specifically in japan but i’ve seen this across apec as well so a japanese manager gets ahead in
their career by mitigating risk by never taking any personal responsibility the reason is because
uh hr is structured in such a way that when somebody starts their career
even if they’re a fresh university graduate you know age 22 or whatever it is they basically start on day one
not knowing anything but they’ve got 100 points and throughout the their career
they can only ever lose points they can’t win points back so you start with 100 and every time you
make a mistake you lose a point the only way to get ahead is not make
any mistakes and then by doing as little as possible
by staying in the company as long as possible you’re promoted because of seniority
whoever has you know the least amount of mistakes after 40 years becomes chairman of the
organization it’s the inverse again of the western system where on day one you start with zero you don’t know anything
and you try to win points and if you make a mistake you lose points but you can come up with a good idea or take some
risk and win points back and you can sometimes get to 100 quite young and become the ceo of the company
at still quite a young age this is you know because of in japanese
culture the group is so important that the group is always considered wiser and more
intelligent and more correct than the individual no matter how genius the individual might be
it’s not possible that that person could be smarter than the group so you always have group based decisions
yeah cultural issue so designed by committee decision making by committee is always preferred
group is always again smarter than the individual harmony and teamwork are the ultimate goal to
the point that this is reality uh certainly in japan whatever is most harmonious is the
reality all right so this leads us to the japan sales processes
uh the sales methodology um in japan right now it’s kind of
unfortunate but there’s not a good culture of sales training there used to be
um when japan was going through its uh economic miracle and and rising to power and companies had a lot
of budget for training people until about the mid-90s
training was pretty good you know there were actual sales coaches and there would be a well-structured
methodology for training sales people but when the bubble economy collapsed
training was one of the first things to get cut and so most organizations today
they basically just do on-the-job training where you shadow uh a senior salesperson
and try and learn from them unfortunately most sales people are not
good trainers because for the most part the veterans the ones who are really
good they’ve figured out how to sell through their own unique
formulas their own personal relationships their own scripts their own strategies and
they don’t want to give it away they want to retain their status as being a good salesperson so they don’t
they don’t really want to teach that to anybody else and there isn’t a good like coaching um
and there isn’t really a structure of having like a sales manager or a vice president of sales in most japanese
companies uh it’s usually a very flat system kind of every man for themselves and traditionally there was a
very high turnover in sales so you just didn’t have very many professional people
there isn’t really a culture of data-driven sales so crm you know measuring metrics
uh tracking how many touch points it takes to close a deal uh you know the core um basic
fundamentals of a good data driven sales process they they still don’t really exist in japan
it’s much more relationship based again everybody just figuring out what works for
themselves there also isn’t usually a culture of
commission so usually no individual quotas uh or incentives um bonuses are are tied
to the overall team or company performance uh so it’s not like sales people are getting a commission they’re usually
getting a salary and then if they do really well they might get an individual bonus at
the end of the year or maybe twice a year at certain set seasons but more often it’s their group their
division or the entire company so you might be the best performing sales person in the entire company you could be 10 times better than the next
sales person um and still not get a bonus or get any incentive
be no different than anybody else in the company so it’s kind of
de-incentivizing for the hunter type of sales process that is is
actually very successful in the west uh it’s much more incentivizing for the
farmer type of model the account manager model where you you know you take your time and you
develop good relationships with your client base and you don’t risk anything that would damage those relationships or
even risk creating new relationships because it’s just not in your best interest
there are exceptions and these are usually the global companies that have a foreign presence so when i’m looking
to hire i’ll look for sales people who have done some time at either oracle
salesforce sap or microsoft i find that they have the best
training systems they tend to put out the best sales people who are then successful and
and go on to top-tier careers at other companies and this is because it’s a hybrid system it’s a hybrid of the the western
uh incentive based system with the japanese relationship-based system so if you can crack that formula and
create a good hybrid model then you’ll you’ll likely do pretty well obviously
it’s absolutely essential to localize all sales materials and present them in japanese
english is taught for you know minimum six years everybody can read english but nobody’s that
comfortable with it unless they’ve spent time living overseas and increasingly japan is becoming
uh you know as the pendulum has swung away from globalism like many other nations
is more inward looking right now so even the young generation isn’t you know traveling overseas that much english is
just not really that spoken um western processes uh although you know
if they’re necessary for business they’re they’re respected they’re not something that most people are uh investing in so you need
you can’t be presenting materials in english even uh graphs and charts and images you have to
get access to the original files that you can edit those and and localize them uh and
also there’s a culture in japan of providing
as much dense information as possible there’s something about this culture
that just abhors white space so you have to use powerpoint you have
to use like 10 or 12 point font and fill up your slides just absolutely the
complete opposite of of what would be recommended in a western uh presentation model
you you have to put all your information on the slides you have to allow people to read them as
you yourself are reading off the slides don’t just put up a picture and tell a story about it you have to have
everything written out that’s the expectation that’s that’s how it’s done in this market uh it’s weird but that’s how it’s done
and it makes for just horribly ugly slides but that’s that’s what they want
when it comes to the actual sales pitch risk mitigation is always the strongest
pitch you know in sales we talk about away positioning and towards positioning
towards being moving towards an opportunity here’s more market share here’s a you know cost reduction or something you
can get in japan that moving towards something never works because that’s risky you have to
talk about moving away moving away from risk risk mitigation
no one ever wants to be first so you’ve got to leverage a personal relationship to get someone to be first and then
you’ve got to play that up as much as possible create as much social proof as you can
again case studies are essential and they must be localized into japanese uh
all right so those are those are the main points now things are changing so much because of the pandemic
obviously it’s now no longer in person meetings it’s a zoom workflow
people are getting used to this it’s taken a year i would say that
some people are still even after a year still waiting to get back to normal so they’ve done
nothing a lot of companies they’ve just put everything on pause and they’re waiting until
uh work gets back to normal but it’s not ever going to get back to normal the way it was so we’re always going to
have this this new reality in japanese it’s called with corona that has become the the key word and
sort of forward-thinking companies are getting used to this so zoom or teams or meat or whatever it
is that allows you to get access that’s become the standard people are remote working
and this does actually break down some cultural barriers you you there are fewer gatekeepers now so you
can get more access to key decision makers and uh and stakeholders so
although you were slowed down by the need to get people on a zoom call and the technological issues associated with
that we’re also kind of conversely sped up because uh there are fewer gatehole gatekeepers now uh phoning doesn’t work
so much everybody’s remote working you can call into the office and you’re just gonna get an answering machine
um it’s not like people are forwarding their office number to their home uh or their mobile number uh for the
most part the phone isn’t really working so well right now so email or
webinar just trying to get people on a zoom meeting is is most important uh matters of course are
still essential more so uh in this market than probably any other region on the planet
you do have to follow basic protocols so be very careful about understanding
if somebody’s older than you if they have more seniority than you or not you don’t have to go through the whole bowing and exchanging of meishi or
business cards that’s not so much required but respect is absolutely
essential uh if you’re on time for a meeting in japan you’re late uh you know you’ve always
got to be five minutes early if you’re too early uh it’s bad matters it’s a faux pas if you’re
more than you know five minutes early you’re late always five minutes on the dot that’s
when you have to log in and start your zoom calls so give yourself a buffer between zoom calls
now also keep in mind the expectation is that if it’s an actual meeting it’s going to be an hour long there’s no
30-minute meetings or 45-minute meetings in japan so you pretty much have to either juggle
things really well or maybe have an assistant if you’ve got back-to-back zoom calls you’ve got to get somebody to start the
call for you five minutes early and then you get onto the call or you just space your calls out more
than an hour apart and and schedule other tasks in between now conversely
as foreigners don’t ever try to be too japanese you know it’s more effective it breaks down more
barriers and allows you to be more efficient if you are just yourself obviously knowing the
culture is helpful knowing japanese is helpful um but uh japanese especially are very
forgiving of foreigners we’re not held to the same standards and so we can actually get away with
quite a lot and that allows us to be actually more efficient all right so we’re one minute before the
end um we’ve got a little time for q a uh i think gilad you’re still the only person on
the call so it’s a good chance for you any comments or questions uh about these slides
well not not more than i ask you on a regular day but
everything everything is pretty clear thank you for
well i hope it was uh helpful for everybody um again i created a local quicktime uh
screen recording here so hopefully that works all right and i’ll share that with partnership leaders um but
yeah if anybody has any questions feel free to reach out to me at any time it’s uh evan.burkowski
or just message me through the partnership leaders slack channel all right thanks have a good day
everyone live on youtube all right thanks glad