Big in Japan - overcame market entry challenge

By IRA PRIGAT

Founder and President of Network in Motion Ltd.

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After discussing some of the challenges companies may face when wishing to enter the Japanese market, let us talk about how to succeed in Japan.

What should you do to succeed in entering this wonderful market?

1. Become a person the Japanese want to work with - be introduced by a trustworthy mediator

Building trust is important in every business deal, yet it is crucial when doing business with the Japanese. They have to trust you before they consider doing business with you and gaining the Japanese companies’ trust takes time and effort.

Yet there are ways to shorten this process by being introduced by a trustworthy mediator or have that person or firm consult you along the process. Business becomes so much easier when your Japanese counterpart knows that your mediator understands their decision making process, their need for detailed information, verifications and local needs. 

2. Be patient with the long decision making process - have someone lead you along the process

Because everything in Japan is a journey, decisions are made in a long and extensive process which can prolong your business agreements and business success. You will have to be aware of this, because many Israelis are used to a faster pace when things happen a lot quicker and when they are faced with this long process they get impatient and this could be the ruin of any business cooperation before it even starts.

Another interesting point to be taken into account is that in a total opposite to Western countries where the CEO is the sole decision maker, which can also take immediate decisions, in Japan decisions are made in an internal “spiral” manner (in Japanese “Nemawashi”) when the professional team sends their recommendations to the top management review and consideration, thus there is no use of speaking the the Japanese CEO, as he will politely ask you to communicate with his professional team. 

Your success starts when you are patient with the process and show gratitude to the initial team you meet, as they may be the ones deciding on your very future. Therefore, it is most recommended to find a professional consultant that can guide you along the business development process and may be extremely helpful and productive.

3. Think global act local - Japanese are initially committed to their own market, but can also play an international role

One of the most significant advantages Japanese top companies have is their international presence and leadership in their code area, such as Imaging, cardiovascular surgery, ablation technology, remote diagnostics, and so forth.

These global corporates are not just distributors, but have an investment power as they strive to strengthen their own foothold in areas they find strategic.  

Before getting in contact with a potential Japanese player, it is recommended to have a global strategy of how to integrate your technology into an existing install base, how can you be applicable to current users’ needs, but also be open to adjust your strategy and technology accordingly in order to match the Japanese market’s Needs and Wants.