Map Data: Busan, South Korea
Google Earth, Google Maxar Technologies
John Leung, based in Singapore, helps BYG to manage multiple clients expanding their business into East Asia. He excels at helping firms that have absolutely no pre-existing local presence in Asia and that want to be prudent in their exploration of the market.
Billion-dollar business have many resources to plan long-term initiatives, as they consider new market entry. They can devote time and money to standing up a local office and investing in supporting infrastructure. For SMBs however, resources are limited, burn rates are top of mind they need show progress measured over a few quarters, max. John works with a range of SMBs who want to expand in Singapore and across ASEAN. Rather than drop 5-10 people into Asia and have a full branch of devoted support from their headquarters, these companies opted for a single in-country representative from BYG to handle business development and sales.
John Leung describes the different types of hats that he wears simultaneously when working with these types of clients. It takes an experienced executive who has been in many different teams and has had a lot of experience to play such a role. It would not be effective for someone 10 years out of college to attempt the role. The one wearing multiple hats needs to be able to deep dive beyond layman’s knowledge in each of the areas. Here is a breakdown of the different hats:
Hat 1: The Point Person.
The point person is responsible for developing the beach head. According to John, “You don’t necessarily have the luxury of an office with all the support functions. When you’re doing biz dev traditionally, you know who you need to talk to ahead of time via existing accounts and / or relationships via desktop research (.e.g. what’s recommended on LinkedIn, etc), but when you enter a new market and nobody knows who you are, wearing this hat is a much bigger challenge. How do you get suspects that become prospects that become leads?” The point person is responsible for iterating on the go to market plan. John wears this hat well, as his experience has taught him to think creatively on strategic approaches and to gather data quickly as he explores each approach. For example, the possibility could exist for a home appliance IOT client from the US to break into the personal safety equipment market in Southeast Asia . John knows what methods to pursue in order to verify that possibility from a technical perspective, from a user need perspective, from a supply chain perspective, and from a sales cycle perspective. He knows from experience what is most likely not to work and how to investigate that area first.
Hat 2: The Lead Generation Marketer.
In the classic sales or business development role, you don’t have to generate your own leads. Being the first man on the ground, John’s ability to do the sales side of it is a bit different. There’s nothing inbound at the beginning. “It’s like a rocket taking off,” says John, “A great deal of energy is poured in at the beginning trying to establish some upward momentum. You fight against gravity for a while, and then it starts to subside.” This hat requires a large share of John’s time at the outset, and then it becomes more manageable as leads begin to come in.
Hat 3: The Salesman.
While exploring a strategy for a client, a large component is interpersonal. John spends a lot of time on the phone, on video calls, and in meetings getting to know them and understanding how they make decisions. His relatability and his experience in the region help him to adopt the right pace and tone. His network lends him credibility and allows him to help prospective customers by introducing them to other valuable contacts. These tactics allow him to position the solution he represents in the most practical and effective manner to determine true fit with the prospect’s needs and to ensure they take the solution seriously.
Hat 4: The Technical Representative.
Sales discussions can turn technical unpredictably. John needs to come up to speed quickly with the technical ins and outs of the solution he represents. Once he is up to speed, he needs to think creatively about minimizing the technical work required to adapt the solution to any emerging customer needs. He has to keep a line open with his client’s technical team to make sure that his ideas are valid and to help coordinate demos and pilots. As things develop, John often becomes the liaison between this team and technical people within new customers. Eventually, relationships usually evolve so that customers become partners, and the technical teams are in direct contact pre-empting traditional sales cycles with collaborative projects.
Hat 5: The Customer Success Manager.
John needs to handle customer support at multiple levels once a deal closes. He dons this hat for some customers before the deal closes throughout demos and pilots, as well. Typical activities here are responsive in nature. When customers have questions or concerns, John is the first point of contact. Often, he is able to resolve these without needing to turn back to BYG Advantage’s client. There is a pro-active component, as well. John ensures that expectations are clear and aligned, and he preempts issues related to customization and communicates timelines and milestones to keep the customers satisfied. Gradually, this work leads to expansion of deal terms as customers become partners of BYG Advantage’s clients, entrenching the relationships via co-developed and more integrated projects through longer-term contracts.
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