What You Need to Know to Sell Services in Japan

Key points:

  • The importance of long term relationships in Japan
  • Understanding the Japanese mindset and trust is the key
  • Hiring staff in Japan: a big challenge (yes, as big as selling)!

This Post is originally from Tim Romero’s excellent Website and Podcast;  Disrupting Japan – Your Inside Track on the Startups Changing Japan. Option to Subscribe to Tim’s Podcast are here

Sriram Venkataraman would have never thought 20 years ago that Infosys was his future. When his former customer, who worked in a headhunting firm, called to offer him a job in Japan, he could not refuse. This is how everything started.

Infosys is an Indian multinational corporation that provides business consulting, information technology and outsourcing services. Twenty years ago the company’s revenue was heavily dependent on the American market. Infosys was attracted by Japan’s GDP size and decided to enter the country. Today Japan business employs over a 1,000 people.

When Sriram arrived at Infosys it took him around 8 months to get his first deal. At the beginning Sriram experienced many difficulties. In Japan, companies and customers have long established relationships, which makes it difficult to earn their trust when you recently entered the market. Especially when you are a foreigner you have to prove your value to Japanese companies and that you can be trusted. Additionally, making the right choices when hiring employees is also a problem for foreign companies in Japan.

In order to create a business in the service sector, Sriram realized that he had to understand the Japanese mindset. One lesson learned was that building a business should not be solely revenue, but just as important is to build it for the employees and for the customers. Particularly between India and Japan you have to understand the difference in perception of quality, value and cultural nuance. By understanding their values Sriram was able to establish long term relationships with Japanese companies.

Hiring new staff is also a challenge. Infosys tried to hire people with different backgrounds. They finally came to the conclusion that Japanese with 2 to 5 years’ experience were the most likely to be a good fit.

As Japan and India are so far away from each other, it was necessary to keep a certain cohesion. That is why Sriram sent new Japanese staff to the Indian team for one year and brought young Indian engineers to Japan for 6 months or more, so both Japanese and Indians were able to understand each other and know how each division of the company operated, building a strong core team in Japan as they had in India.

By transforming their difficulties into advantages, they built a reliable core team that is still driving the company ahead.

The final advice Sriram would give to CEO’s coming in Japan and any Country Managers is to make a sincere effort to understand the definition of value as seen by the customer, because what made him successful was his genuine effort to understand the Japanese people and their story.

Read the full article here https://www.disruptingjapan.com/need-know-sell-services-japan-market-entry/


This Post was written by Jason Ball, a “Fixer” and people connector, in Tokyo.