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。

Global Interaction & Understanding - A Personal Journey : No.19 人生の目標が明確に

2020-04-25 11:42:43 | Ron's Life Story

Over the years, although vehicle models have changed, basic sales techniques, sales management and general management have changed very little. Also, those principles are very universal and can apply in many countries and cultures. There are modifications required, but they are very slight considering the total concept.

Furthermore, as I studied how sales were made in many markets, I learned there is never one best way. What is best in one region might not be in another. Obviously a salesman would not telephone his customer if none of the customers had telephones. He would not send out advertisement if the customers could not read.

I had no idea to this day why my presentations and seminars were so popular. I would guess it has something to do with my personality and the ability to communicate with people who have a wide range of education levels. Also, for some reason, my sense of humor seems to be successful in many wide and diverse groups. I guess that was just a gift from God. I know that my goals of globally interacting and understanding people were on the right track.

Moving to Shinkawasaki Park City いすゞの社宅からマンションへ引っ越し。
Also, during those years we moved out of Isuzu Motors’ company housing and bought our own condominium. Finally we were in the position to create a nice neighborhood environment. We had a sport club and tennis courts in the complex. Also, there a full range of activities we could get involved in like Japanese summer festivals.

Summer Festivals in Shinkawasaki Park City

Finally, my life’s purpose was showing itself, and I was overjoyed with both personally and professionally, as I had finally clarified my goals and activities for the rest of my life.
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Global Interaction & Understanding - A Personal Journey : No.18 いよいよグローバルに活躍

2020-04-19 00:26:45 | Ron's Life Story

There was a Japanese domestic market GM Consultant from Chevrolet, Gardner Glenn, who was trying to improve Isuzu’s sales in Japan and spent time in Chevrolet’s training operation in the United States. When I approached him, he thought we could complement each other very well, as I was a Japanese speaker, and he had just arrived from the US with little background about Japan. Through our many discussions, he provided me a wealth of material from GM’s old training programs. That was just the raw material I needed to write my own international commercial vehicle and car sales training program.

Also, Gardner had recruited the John Williamson Company to provide seminars in Japan. John Williamson owned a group of dealerships in the southern part of the United States. At that time, they had 22 dealerships and an in-group training center in Birmingham, Alabama. Now, there are mega-dealers owning hundreds of dealerships, but in those days dealership groups were rare.

John Williamson invited me to his training center to attend one of his normal US domestic 2-week salesmen courses and spend a week observing a dealership of my choice. That was very productive three weeks, as I then had all the material and techniques I needed to do it all myself. Also, I received, for free, great material for a dealership sales manager seminar, my second program.

Over and above that, I read a dozen books on basic salesmanship.

As I had worked in Isuzu’s overseas sales promotion department and was a pretty good Japanese speaker at that time, I had a pretty good understanding of the Isuzu products, particularly the trucks. What I did not know, I could learn very easily by going into Isuzu’s Engineering and asking about it. One of the functions of sales seminars is to help the retail salesmen sell and to do that, they had to know the features and user benefits of buying the vehicle. Therefore, teaching about the product was critical and not just teaching basic salesmanship.

After a year of study and writing, I conducted my first sales seminar in Singapore, in 1985. It was not the best seminar I ever gave, but I learned a great deal from that program and from that point the seminars improved and improved. While I was teaching, I was probing the best salesmen as to what made them so successful. I not only shared their thoughts with the whole group, I took that knowledge and used it to improve the future seminar.

First sales seminar, April 1985

From that first seminar, my training activities exploded, and I started traveling worldwide, particularly in Southeast Asia, the Middle East, Latin America and Africa. I gave seminars in Europe only a few times and a couple of times in Canada. But, most of the time I was working in the jungles and desserts of the world. As of this writing, I have traveled to over 80 countries worldwide.

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Global Interaction & Understanding - A Personal Journey : No.17人事部で燻っていたRonさんにいよいよ海外関係の仕事が!

2020-04-11 10:12:44 | Ron's Life Story


I was not happy with my assignment in the Isuzu Motors Personnel Department and was always looking for ways to get more into the international business. It came first when I was asked to help with English written material in the Overseas Sales Promotion Department.

I was asked to spend every Friday in that department to rewriting English speeches, slide presentations, corporate catalogues, product presentations and video narrations. So, I had two desks and two bosses with very different assignments coming at me.

Through all the English rewriting, I learned the features on all of the overseas cars, trucks and other products. Armed with what I learned in business school, I could see some of the things that were lacking in Isuzu’s overseas sales promotional activities and the weaknesses in many of their overseas sales activities. Furthermore, learned most of the people in the overseas sales departments had weak selling skills. They were only able to process orders as the purchases came in from customers around the world. This was a source of friction between Engineering and the Overseas Sales Departments. The sales organization was separated by regions of the world and sales channels.

There were three main overseas sales channels, the IMODC channel, the GM channel, and the Isuzu channel. This is not counting domestic Japan, which in those days was about half the business.

The IMODC channel stands for Isuzu Motors Overseas Distribution Corporation. It basically distributed to the smaller countries of the world and was a joint venture with GM with Isuzu owning 51% of the shares and having management responsibility. The GM channel was made up mostly of GM’s overseas assembly plants in which Isuzu sold to in the CKD (completely knocked down) form. The Isuzu channel was its own network, mostly in Asia. Some of the countries had assembly operations; some only had dealers that imported completely built up vehicles.

After being with the company for about three years, my chance to get into international business came. I was asked to go over to the Isuzu Training Center and help them write an English training manual about 1-2 days a week, as they were asked by top management to provide training to dealers around the world in the same fashion as they did for Japanese domestic dealers. So, I then had three desks to work from on different days of the week.

When I got to the Training Department, I learned that not only did they not have a training program for me to improve on. What they did have would not be acceptable in overseas markets. On top of that, even if they could use the material no one wanted to or was qualified to teach overseas. What they were trying to do was to build a case that overseas sales training could not be done in Isuzu Motors.

As the English training job in the Personnel Department was pretty well established, I only went there occasionally to set up classes. Also, the Overseas Sales Promotion job was changed to an as need be basis. That left me open to spend all my time to develop sales training program for overseas dealers’ salesmen.

For me though, that was a job I wanted very badly. I had the teaching background and experience. Also, I had a business education and experience. What I needed was a good sales program for vehicles. So, I approached the GM consultants within Isuzu.

Uploaded by Nobi Saito
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Global Interaction & Understanding - A Personal Journey : No.16 当時、問題点と感じたことは?

2020-04-05 12:38:12 | Ron's Life Story




The atmosphere in the personnel department was something new for me. We had our own tennis team that competed in head office and in company-wide tournaments. We went to baseball games together. In the evenings, I would from time to time go out with other members of our group for a drink and dinner. This was all company paid as it came under the heading of building teamwork. In most Japanese companies even today, being able to get along and work as a team member is sometimes more important than your actual job performance. If taken to the extreme, this concept can become a liability for many companies, as they cannot make the difficult decisions as to how to be more efficient, who is needed and who is not needed. Just getting along is not enough.

Gatherings in Isuzu Motors with my family

In those early months in the company, I suffered with language problems again. I didn’t know the financial and managerial terms required in internal business discussions. Also,the offices and meeting rooms were filled with heavy smokers that left me with a headache at the end of each day.

The meetings were twice as long as I thought they could have been and with three to four times more people than was necessary. Decisions were slow in coming and not made without a lot of research. One troublesome area about decisions by committee is that with the continual interaction of a large number of people no one will be finally responsible. Even top management would rubber-stamp what these committees decide and not even know what they are approving. Even if they did, they would not be able to stand up and strongly support the committees’ position.

I would listen to rambling and rambling on subjects of which no one had the required information to make a decision. So, the talking just kept going. Rarely did a meeting end on time. A one-hour meeting could very easily go for three hours. Also, there were people in the room saying nothing and doing nothing. No note taking, nothing. Some, believe it or not, some attendees were sleeping in the meetings. Although, improvements have been made, that characteristic about Isuzu was there even when I left. It unfortunately is a very common problem in many large Japanese companies but to a lesser degree today. The good side is a lot of information comes out. The bad side is that with management by committee no one will take responsibility for the decision and stand behind it.

It was becoming clearer that my goals and dreams for life would start to material greatly working in Isuzu Motors through their international activities. I still had to find out exactly what role I would play in that regard. That started to be answered in the years that followed.

Uploaded by Nobi Saito

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