様々な分野でグローバルに活躍する「普通の人々」が体験を語り、次世代の普通の人々のお役に立てればと思っているサイトです。

日本在住歴約40年のRon McFarlandと外資系勤務が長い齋藤信幸が、それぞれの海外体験を語ります。

コテコテの日本企業しかもオーナー企業故の苦労も

2015-12-23 22:15:06 | Ron's Life Story
グローバルリーダー協会の齋藤です。

コテコテの日本企業に入ったRonさん、苦労は絶えませんでした。

After learning the products, business and appropriate markets, I found out that there were a couple of product lines I could sell in Europe and the United States mainly. That took me around two-three years of exhibiting and talking to customers. My most successful exhibitions were the International Hardware Fair in Cologne, Germany (which was once a year and then every other year) and the Specialty Tools & Fastener Distributor Associate (STAFDA) Annual Convention & Trade Show in the US. The beauty of the STAFDA exhibition is that it was in a different US city every year. So, I was able to visit a lot of US cities over the years.

With the sales developed in Europe and the US, many times I ran into production capacity problems. This prevented me from doing any further promoting. My main job was to convince customers not to switch to other suppliers, even though my delivery time went from 2-1/2 months to three months and then to four months. I did lose some customers though that could not wait that long. Also, in owner companies, the owner would have the right to change production scheduling as he liked without getting all the people involve who would be influenced by production changes. They need not follow the standard first-in-first-out production process. My orders were occasionally delayed without warning of 1-2 months for orders from domestic Japan and other markets. This added to my losing customers.

Because of pricing, delivery timing and supply problems, I was not as successful in Africa or Latin America. That was certainly OK for me, as those markets are very far away from Japan and was very happy to handle the US and European markets only.

In the Middle East, I did have spot business, but decide to move very carefully until there supply problems were solved. Once I built a strong network, I stopped all new business development and only serviced existing customers.



Sales and product training in New York

I did have a chance to give my customers sales, sales management and product training several times. I was very happy to learn my truck sales seminars could be converted for other products and industries. They were so successful that this added more to my supply problems and serving the customer after the sale was a real problem. Therefore, I only gave those seminars two or three times, and from that point on only did consulting work when a distributor had a problem or needed help in launching a new product in the market.

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齋藤信幸の生産財の営業はここ。

齋藤信幸のロングステイはここ。

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Unikaでの海外営業。Ronさんを待ち受けていたのは?

2015-12-21 22:40:52 | Ron's Life Story
グローバルリーダー協会の齋藤です。

Unikaで海外営業に配属されますが、Ronさんを待ち受けていたのは?

日本の中小企業の現状は今も大きくは変わらないのではないでしょうか。


Unfortunately, I cannot do any sales training within Unika, as the owner has his own style of selling which he requests the staff to follow. Also, for some overseas markets using Japanese or selling through trading company, he also directly gets involved. Regarding overseas markets using English, that is where I have been able to achieve a great deal. I tried to stay away from all the markets established before I came to the company in Japanese. That seemed to be successful, as no one is interfering with someone else’s market.

Being an American with English as my first language, I did find both language and communications problems when I first came to Unika. Regarding the language, the staff used terms that I was not familiar with. Also, because the job content was different than that of Isuzu Motors, there was specialty terms I had to learn. That took a few years.

Regarding general communication, I noticed a great lack of information sharing particularly in the area of costing and supply chain management. This is a management style I was not used to but later on learned that many small companies both in Japan and overseas are very similar. I was very difficult to learn if a product for a given market would be viable or not. I was able to overcome that problem though with many one-on-one, behind the scenes discussions with key people with the appropriate information. I learned to confirm all verbal statements several times.

Also, with the characters of the owners, developing alliances and strategic partners are a real challenge. This is probably one of the reasons they stay small.

The Unika products are not that competitive worldwide like Isuzu Motors trucks, so I had to be very careful in not spending a lot of time, energy and money in markets in which we could not offer a product that is needed.

In March, 2002, after being in the company only three months, I exhibited the Unika products in Cologne Germany. At that time, there were only two small companies that purchased from Unika. One was in the UK and one in France. The company did not even have the expertise of reserving space at an international exhibition, so they shared the booth with a company that did have that expertise.

When I first came to the company, the English catalogues and sales promotion material was very poor and needed to be revised. For the first exhibition, I did not have good promotional material, but that exhibition taught me what needed to be achieved. Also, I had a customer database of only 29 companies worldwide. In most cases, I should have had at least several hundred, possibly even a thousand names and companies to work with. So, I had to start from scratch which is OK. With all that sales training, I did know how develop my own network.







Exhibition in Germany, 2002~2004

For the first two years, we shared the booth, but it was always so crowded that for the third year, I reserved our own booth. That was more successful, and I learned how to plan an exhibition at a trade show. By then, I improved all point of purchase materials and had a better customer database. So, I could invite more customers to visit us at the booth.







Meetings with French, Finnish and Danish customers in Germany, 2002~2004

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齋藤信幸の生産財の営業はここ。

齋藤信幸のロングステイはここ。

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いすゞ自動車から日本の中小企業へ転職

2015-12-21 00:55:54 | Ron's Life Story
グローバルリーダー協会の齋藤です。

さて、ここからはRonさんがいすゞ自動車から日本の中小企業Unikaへ転職するときの話です。

いすゞではセールストレーニングの研修講師をしていましたが、Unikaでは営業を実践することになりました。


Chapter #15: TRANSITIONING FROM LARGE JAPANESE CORPORATION INTO A SMALL PRIVATELY HELD JAPANESE COMPANY

I left Isuzu Motors with a very nice retirement package, so for the short term, personal finances was not a major problem, and I had time to plan my next career step. Isuzu Motors offered me outplacement services, and I spent the next four months looking for my next position. I found the search very similar to what a truck sales person is involved in everyday looking for customers. I rather enjoyed it.

With the help of the outplacement consultant, we found a database of small companies needing a wide range of expertise in overseas operations. In Japan, much of the pure research, product development, marketing expertise and overseas projects are handled at the large corporation level. In most cases, the smaller companies only are support functions to those large corporations.

There are a few small though, privately owned companies, particularly companies with strength in production development and research, which get involved in overseas business directly. Also, some small companies have to purchase from overseas because their Japanese domestic operation is not viable in costs, and they have little product development expertise. Therefore, they purchase from overseas directly or for the more challenging, they start production operations overseas with strategic business partners or hiring employees from large corporations with the appropriate expertise.

This was the case of my next employer, as I had overseas sales expertise that they did not have. Their main plant was in Japan and had production in China and Vietnam with business partners and employees from other companies. Over time, they bought out their partners and started manufacturing exclusively for themselves, mostly domestic Japan. So, they gain some overseas production expertise, but no really overseas sales expertise.

Started working for Unika Company Limited in January, 2002. My function was to develop overseas markets as well as processing shipments of raw materials and finished goods between their three factories, the main factory in Iwate, Japan, a factory outside of Beijing, China and a factory in Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam. At that time, more than 95% of all products produced in China and Vietnam were exported to Japan and sold through the Unika sales network.

Interestingly, in all the 21 years in Isuzu Motors I never was allowed to get into direct sales. I never even processed the order of one truck. That isn’t to say I did not convince customers to buy though. Through the sales training and sometime presentations directly to truck fleet users, I did convince a customer that working with us is in their best interested. In one particular case, I did sales training for GM Chile for all their dealer sales people throughout the country. Before I returned to Japan, GM Chile placed a large order for truck for that market.

Therefore, when I came to Unika, I had a chance to prove to myself that all those years of sales training work not only in the automotive industry but any industry in which a presentation and relationship with the customer is required. In the case of Unika, the company is very small and the products are very small. That requires modification in the selling process, but only minor changes. Also, it makes the selling process much simpler and easier, as after sales service are supplying spare parts is a minor issue. Furthermore, if the customer doesn’t believe your product in good, you can simply give him one and have him test it in his own operation. You can only do that in very rare cases in the truck business and with very strict loaner conditions.

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齋藤信幸の生産財の営業はここ。

齋藤信幸のロングステイはここ。

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