Member Ittai Bareket Speaks: You Need Someone You Can Trust
The case at hand was brought by a fellow Alliance member who was preparing to enter Japan with a huge partner that would resell its software. The member wanted to know what to do to succeed and whether to hire locally or not.
If you were in this situation, what would you do?
If I am going into business in a very different country with a very different culture, I need someone I can really depend on, even if that person does not understand the language.
This sounds like a great win for your company, particularly since you have a legacy product and this move gives you the opportunity to find other channels. Since I happen to have six years of experience selling software in Japan, I have a strong perspective on your situation.
Other members here today suggested hiring a local person to oversee your operations in the new country. I may be the oddball in the room, but if it was my company, I would find someone I can trust who already works for me here in the U.S., and get that person to relocate. Keep in mind, this is a very different country with a very different culture, so I need someone I can really depend on, even if that person does not understand the language. A local person may not provide the insights I need because that person may not necessarily be loyal to me.
Second, when I visit my partner in Japan, as CEO, protocol requires that I be treated very respectfully, but as a result, shielded from many important truths. As a result, I might not get the information I need. For example, I've heard you say you were wondering whether you could directly spiff your partner's sales team. I would be surprised if those folks even get commission, because that is not how things work in Japan. Not only will they object to it, they won't even know what you're talking about. So this is another reason to have someone I trust to engage with the Japanese partner, to live there to gain access to the realities of partnership and the local marketplace.