For the Business in Japan event this month, authors David Sweet and Dan Harris spoke on Cross-Cultural Selling. Fifty sales professionals from various B2B industries gathered to hear these long-time Japan sales pros talk about how sales people can improve sales, bust through the "Japan's too hard to sell" myth, cold calling, bypassing the "madoguchi", and effectively use training.
The insightful presentations were followed by an extensive Q&A session that covered the advantages and disadvantages to speaking in Japanese, the importance of online marketing, and best practices for closing.
"Selling in Japan can be summed up in four words," Dr. Sweet said. "High context; high contact." He explained that though selling in Japan is fairly similar to selling in the rest of the world, the importance of face-to-face meetings and long-term commitments are vital in Japan. Dan Harris, whose career spans over 30 years in Japan at B2B sales, stressed the importance of not training alone, but follow-up training is paramount.
David Sweet, author of Sweet Sales and CEO of the APAC Human Capital consultancy, FocusCore, has been partnering with top tier companies in Asia for two decades. "It's important to know customs, as well as language, so that you can use it to your advantage."
Another important point that was stressed, was that often sales people use the challenges of language or customs as an excuse for sales being more difficult in Japan than elsewhere. "Listen to the high performing 20%, not the mediocre 80%," advises Dan Harris. "A lot of what you hear from the low performers are myths."
Business in Japan is a well known networking platform founded by Jason Ball, another long time pro at selling.