Japan is home to some of the world’s most successful corporations, such as Canon, Hitachi, Mitsubishi, Nikon, Nissan, Panasonic, Sony, Toyota, and Yamaha. Doing business with them benefits hugely from Japan’s relatively small area and excellent infrastructure; where else in the world can a sales team visit companies such as Toyota in the morning, Honda in the afternoon, and Sony in the evening of the same day? The Japanese market is a very strong market for corporate products and services and understanding Japanese corporate sales will help your company do very profitable business with Japan’s largest corporations; which in my experience is some of the most profitable business anywhere in the world.
Japanese corporate sales technique may seem very old-fashioned to a US or European business person used to doing much of his or her business remotely by email and mobile phone. Both in corporate and consumer markets, the Japanese sales process reflects the personal service aspect of Japanese business culture and is very people and time intensive. The prices of most products in Japan are high compared to the US or Europe; that added margin allows Japanese companies to continue people-intensive sales activities which would be unprofitable on the slimmer margins typical elsewhere. Especially in the consumer goods market, online merchants such as Rakuten Ichiba and Amazon have risen in popularity while Japan’s many 100Yen stores dominate sales of many commodity household consumables, but Japan remains a service-oriented society and customers still pay a premium, albeit a reduced premium, for service.
Next we’ll look at how Japanese salespeople start relationships with new corporate prospects.