(Published on LinkedIn May 17th, 2017)
Entering the Asia Pacific market for many Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) requires long term commitment and a strategic and tactical plan that too many companies are quick to overlook in their urgent quest to reap the bountiful opportunities within the region.
In our market entry business at StrateValue, we have spoken to many ambitious companies who, through their impatience and lack of regional understanding, are quick to hire a local market entry firm to get them their first beachhead win without any long-term commitment or strategic plan from headquarters to support the region. They believe their budgeted financial commitment to invest into the region is enough for them to hire a local market entry firm to find their first client with minimal support from the mothership. We have declined many market entry representation offers from overseas companies who have had such misunderstood ambitions.
Asia Pacific market entry firms are designed to deliver tangible results based on the following two premises:
- Companies looking to enter Asia Pacific have a committed market strategy but have limited budget to set up a direct full-scale operation. Through business development efforts from their headquarters, they have developed some level of market traction in-region to justify putting indirect resources to support that foundational growth. Hiring a market entry firm will give them the ability to service their partners or clients on a localized basis until they are ready to commit to a direct presence in-region.
- Companies looking to enter Asia Pacific have a committed market strategy but have limited budget to set up a direct full-scale operation and do not have any regional market knowledge, no local relationships, no local partners, nor any regional sales pipeline. Market entry firms are an excellent resource to help these companies establish an indirect presence to ‘prime the pump’ through early market missionary selling efforts.
Market entry firms employ very well connected, highly experienced business development / sales professionals who can build a sales pipeline from scratch and are expert closers to seal deals. They are consummate networkers who have deep contacts that span multiple industries and territories. These firms will accelerate their client’s time to revenue in-region through their ability to bring top-down discussions with their personalized senior level industry contacts.
Successful market entry firms will always have these three components in their business:
1. Startup Specialists / Highly Experienced Business Development Professionals
These firms employ individuals who will have at least 15 years or more of business development and startup experience and can do missionary selling from a cold start. These individuals are very well connected and carry enviable rolodexes (or contact lists for those who are not familiar with rolodexes!) that span multiple industries and territories. They can drive P&L and can easily operate at General Manager / Managing Director responsibility levels.
2. Relevant Subject Matter Expertise
These firms are industry experts within specific market domains. They will be able to provide expert industry guidance on a regional basis to help companies devise the best market entry strategies to succeed within an accelerated timeline. These industry experts require minimal knowledge training other than product or services training from the company’s business portfolio.
3. Deep Industry Relationships
Market entry firms employ professionals who are extremely well connected. They will typically have senior level government contacts, extended senior level reach from their industry domains (vendors / enterprises), and excellent relationships with industry associations. Their personal and professional relationships are the secret sauce that will ‘prime the pump’ to build that initial sales pipeline within an accelerated timeline.
Market entry firms are regional business development specialists who hold multi-faceted skillsets needed to accelerate any business’ time to revenue. Spend the time needed to build a relationship with these firms and you will see your Asia Pacific market entry strategies develop with confidence and speed.