The CEO was dissatisfied with the company’s performance in Asia, which he felt fell short of its potential, given the momentum in the market related to precision farming.
Attempts to develop the Far East area made in previous years with employees as area managers(1), had brought modest results that were far below management’s potential and expectations.
(1) I would like to specify that this is not necessarily incompetence; it is often overlooked that the work of developing and creating a sales network is very different from ordinary business management, both in attitude and approach, as I explain more fully at this link.
Given the premises, the project objectives were defined as:
> mapping all Asia Pacific markets-from India to New Zealand-to define the company’s Asian market development strategy by determining which countries to target and which to exclude;
> establish a sales and service distribution network wherever it was deemed attractive;
> Contractualize, by standardizing them, past business relationships that have never been regularized;
> Take care of the start-up of distributors;
> Manage sales and every aspect related to them throughout the intervention period.
The first period was spent in the company and devoted to getting to know the product and familiarize with company dynamics; the work done previously was analyzed, all trade fairs mapped, and data on import-export and individual country markets analyzed.
The next phase, about 2.5 years, was developed with about 15 trips for about 30 weeks total travel time. The countries covered were China, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, New Zealand, Australia, India, and Vietnam.
Potential partners were identified by every possible means, past contacts, personal local relationships, online research, visits and contacts at trade shows, and then met on site to find out their actual compatibility with the company.
In addition to the activity of scouting and opening new relationships, the project also required the day-to-day management of the sales network to be followed, believing that a single interface with the company (albeit with the support of corporate customer service) was more appropriate. Therefore, the missions also included visiting customers, attending trade shows alongside local distributors, and managing budgets and orders.
Toward the end of the term, the transition of relationships, now established, was managed by introducing internal sales managers, as if it were a normal turnover.
The Asian market development activity carried out has led to a 300% increase in the area’s historical sales average since the first year.
Distribution/dealership relationships have been opened and established in China, New Zealand, Australia, Vietnam and Israel.
In India, a market previously completely unknown to the company, a representative office was opened in addition to the distributor and a sales engineer was selected, hired and directed to promote and sell the products.