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Channel Partner Search in South Korea and Japan for Tana Oy

Client Problem

Our client is Tana Oy from Finland, a leading manufacturer of solid waste management technology worldwide. A large part of their business comes from waste-to-energy as various waste streams must be shredded and screened to produce RDF. With a growing global interest in generating renewable energy this offers new business opportunities in many markets, even those previously considered less attractive.
Tana has a global presence and operates through a network of distributors and sales activities in over 50 countries. However the core of Tana’s business has generally been in Europe, North America and Australia.

Meanwhile, waste-to-energy and recycling has become increasingly important across Asia. To secure its own share of this growing market, Tana planned to extend its dealer network to new markets in the Asia region with a focus on the more developed economies. Accordingly first priority markets for the Asian market expansion were South Korea and Japan.

There are multiple challenges in identifying, contacting and engaging best possible channel partners in these two countries. Language, access to public records, contact with local officials etc all require a high level of local expertise.

Our Solution

Cooperation between Asian Insiders and Tana started from South Korea. While partner search is still ongoing in Japan, the service from Asian Insiders has been identical for both markets.

Tana has an exceptionally advanced working concept with their channel partners, developed and fine-tuned over the past several years. All the necessary channel sales tools are in place and the whole organisation is well structured to support sales efforts. Tana has also carefully defined its own role and responsibilities for joint sales efforts alongside channel partners.

The partner search process with Asian Insiders started with joint preparation and calibrating the Ideal Partner Profile for local markets after which Asian Insiders started the search process by producing a longlist of available candidates.

Each candidate was then measured against the Ideal Partner Profile focusing on criteria such as existing clientele and their current offering. For Tana it is critical that the potential partner has its core business exactly among the right target customers and that their existing product range is complementary to Tana’s products.

With this approach it is possible to present a win-win Value Proposition for the potential partner, where they can achieve new sales revenues from their existing customers without jeopardizing their core business.

The Longlist of partner candidates with some 30 alternatives was then narrowed down in a joint workshop between Tana and Asian Insiders to a preliminary Shortlist of some ten candidates. Then began perhaps the most challenging part of the project. Asian Insiders contacted each Shortlisted candidate in order to evaluate their actual capabilities as well as their genuine interest to consider a dealership with Tana.
Identifying and contacting exactly the right individuals is often difficult in the Japanese and Korean business environment. Some of the Shortlisted candidates were large companies, making the task further challenging. As consultants we must be able to convince a candidate company that there is genuine value to them in considering an available new business opportunity.

We achieve this by pre-selling our client, in this case Tana, to the candidate company. We are able to deploy a certain degree of experience, competence and seniority to do this well and professionally.
The outcome is a meeting between Asian Insiders and the candidate company, where Tana’s offering is presented in more detail and further, more detailed information on the candidate company is collected. In Asia successful business is always based on personal contacts and face-to-face discussions.

After meeting the Shortlisted candidates, we present the final Shortlist to our clients, typically containing 2-5 names. In the case of Tana our list contained two and three names for each country. The next step was to arrange meetings for Tana’s representatives with each final candidate, with a pre-signed Non-Disclosure Agreement in place.

For each phase of this work Asian Insiders has well-tested procedures, tools and templates, saving client time and ensuring success.

In South Korea Asian Insiders has also provided operative market support for Tana at the sales ramp-up phase. In practice Asian Insiders has worked between Tana and the new channel partner for six months supporting both parties in the launch of joint business activities.

Successful Result

In South Korea the market entry process was completed some months ago and we are pleased that the first orders have been already received through the appointed dealer. In Japan the process been delayed due to the pandemic, but negotiations with the final candidates have re-started and the process re-engaged.