What does it take to find the right business partner in Asia?

What does it take to find the right business partner in Asia?

What does it take to find the right business partner in Asia?

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One of the most common projects we do for our clients is a partner search. These projects focus in finding the most suitable agent, importer or distributor for client products, services or solutions in foreign markets. For us is it is a no-brainer that working with the right partner is one of the most crucial decisions for any business especially when accessing foreign markets. For some reason this decision is often based on very limited information and can block market access instead of generating solid, growing sales. Read below to learn from how we work when clients ask as to find them the right business partner in Asia.

Would you decide to invest into a business, real estate or any other assets if you only know 20% of the facts relating to the investment? Most likely not – especially if you are operating in corporate environment. You need to justify your case, provide calculations and estimate ROI etc. Then how come often one of the key decisions on growth and expansions is based on just the tip of the iceberg?

In countries such as South-Korea, where the spoken language is largely different from many even close by countries not to mention western countries. English ability is limited and organisational structures are hierarchical, it is very difficult to find even relevant companies in certain sector without local know-how. Meeting random companies in overseas expos or through ‘a friend’ is usually the first contact companies have for potential Korean partner. Almost every time this still leaves 80-90% of the relevant sector unexplored.[/vc_column_text]

How do we do it?

When we help our clients to find the right business partner in Asia or in Korea, everything starts from client company’s requirements and history in the market. Together with the client we review their case, products, services, solutions, sales points and most importantly all supporting documents we can use from the client. Even major European companies we have worked with have short comings in the basic documents which we need to complete before we take the next steps. Even the documents that are completed and match standard details Korean companies require for their decision making are needed to be translated into Korean. Quite typically even a Korean who has good grasp of English experiences ‘English fatigue’ when faced with fully English emails, documents or anything between.

After all documents are ready, we have clear picture of the client and their needs – Now it’s time to start digging. Through a desk study we start identifying sector structure, value chains, key players, sector drivers and market barriers relevant to the client. Understanding these is important in next step where we start doing really a brute-force listing of potential candidates. It is not uncommon for us to go through hundreds of companies relevant to the sector and then evaluate each company against clients ‘preferred partner profile’. This requires a lot of time in front of the computer, good chair and strong sitting muscles. Result from this is a long-list of partner candidates, which we typically review with the client at least once mid-process. Reviewing the draft list either confirm our direction is correct or adjust the type of companies are on the final list.

Moving towards final partner candidates, we start contacting decision makers of each company on the long list through phone calls, emails, more phone calls and more emails. Sometimes we use only Korean language, sometimes only English but in most cases, we use both. Opening doors to C-level requires the right message, the right seniority and the right person when contacting the candidates.

Our rule of thumb is that properly contacting decision makers and receiving a response in partner candidate companies requires anywhere between 5-15 contacts (email and/or phone calls). Repeating this for 15 partner candidates equals to long hours spent on phone and on computer.

Usually we can complete all this in 3-4 months. As a result, our client will have list of companies suitable for further discussion, are certain that all the relevant companies in the sector have been contacted and have 99% information to start making their decision on the local partner.

How much time does your company spend get to this point?

Our multinational clients usually know this and thus have refined system for finding partners using companies like ours. For them not accessing 10% of potential sales in the market easily equals to millions of dollars, you can only imagine what total access failure costs in lost sales. Working with the right business partner in Asia and in Korea reduces possibility of this type of failure.

Working with us you’ll gain access to our expert team, not just a single person, our extensive network in each market, industry specialists in your relevant industry and cross-sector know-how. We invite you to work with us today!


Key take-aways from our experience

• Understand the markets and the business environment
• Don’t make blind decisions based on random encounters in trade shows
• Save time by using external support
• Market work must be done locally and with professionalism.
• Increase change of success by having qualified partner candidates