Last week I had lunch with one of Asia’s leading CEOs in the digital/programmatic space; and (while enjoying one of the best Japanese meals I have had in Singapore) we spoke about the challenges and mistakes overseas organisations often make when stepping into Asia.
Here’s the summary of the conversation:
Australian, US and European companies look into Asia for the growth and expansion opportunities and decide they want a piece of that action. Which is understandable.
There are two options:
1) Hire a senior business leader with Asian experience and relationships who can steer strategy, hire a small team and generate revenue. This is the “expensive” option.
2) Place a business development lead into the region to win some business and test the market. This is the “cheaper” option.
Option 2 is the common approach; either a) hire a local business development lead to get some early wins, generate cash flow and de risk a major investment into the region or b) transplant a sales lead from another region to do the same.
The result? A 2 year mistake!
Inevitably the lone business development lead struggles; either through lack of support from HQ and/or because they don’t have the requisite experience in Asia.
Of course the cavalry will only come once the revenue starts flowing and there is return to justify further investment. But the revenue doesn’t come because the support isn’t forthcoming. Catch 22.
That’s year 1 gone.
Year 2 is spent correcting the first year’s mistakes and catching up on an ineffective year of business development.
So the “cheap” option is actually the “expensive” option!
The solution? Let me think about that over some lunch….