Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Sales in Japan and the West

I get the impression that in the West, sales is all about closing the deal.

A salesman thinks his job is done when the deal is closed. A lot of Americans, in particular, can be such reality-distorted optimists that in my experience some of them act as if their commission is already in the bank from the point that it merely appears that the deal is going to close. When things fall through (as is increasingly common in these times) they are honestly surprised and shocked and angry.

In Japan, always a few degrees less flaky than America in most aspects, a salesman isn't as defined by the deals he's made and closed, so much as the maintenance of existing relationships. After a deal closes, his job begins in earnest.

Japanese clients seldom start out placing any kind of large order to a supplier or vendor they are using for the first time. They start out placing a small order and carefully observe the level of quality and service they are receiving. They are particularly finicky about the kind of customer support they get from the salesman, how responsive he is, how clear his explanation is, and his approach to dealing with errors or trouble. If they are satisfied they will progressively place larger and larger orders.