First Man On The Ground


By: John Fargis

Map Data: Singapore,
Google Earth, Google Maxar Technologies

John Leung helps to manage two of BYG Advantage’s clients in the Southeast Asia region. John is based in Singapore, and from there he Zooms/travels (when permitted) across the region meeting prospective customers for the firms he represents on behalf of BYG Advantage. 

John regularly checks in with other BYG Advantage colleagues in the region. For his two accounts, those people are located in Kuala Lumpur and Perth. It’s important to stay in touch on a regular basis to share insights about what is generally working as well as to give each other updates on specific leads. He spends most of the rest of his time engaged with business development and new lead generation.

In John’s experience, the best first step is to focus directly on the initial first sale, working hard to find a customer that is already a great fit for the product or service that he represents. The credibility provided by a local sale creates a foundation upon which business development efforts can be built. For example, learning from the first adopter stories what features and user benefits mattered the most in closing the deal, John can execute business development tactics to highlight and further explore the applicability of these benefits and features in the local market. As the news about the deal spreads, other firms begin to wonder whether they might be missing out if they do not adopt the solution John represents. Were John to focus directly on business development from the outgo, he runs the risk of emphasizing the wrong things. That can create a limited perspective in the minds of prospective customers, which is hard to adjust or overcome. 

Once sales enable the business development process with a strong foundation, John begins to explore opportunities to make the products and services work for firms who have needs overlapping the first customer’s needs. Working with BYG Advantage client engineers, John begins to scope out adaptations, where necessary, to land progressively larger deals with traditionally larger and less flexible customers. 

John likes to reiterate the important physical presence is in the Southeast Asian market. “Here, people buy people,” he reflects. Would-be customers want to know that someone is present and in the same time zone. “It ticks the efficacy box in their minds, and they feel a lot more reassured. The initial business relationship feels more de-risked straight away.” Even in the era of COVID-19, the first question people ask is, “Where are you based?”. Some prospects still like to meet one-on-one in person to progress the dialogue on potential solutions.

Another strategy John pursues is making his clients’ home-region successes relevant to the Southeast Asian market. A typical strategy is to emphasize those of his clients’ customers that have presence and name-brand recognition in the local region. For example, one of the firms he is helping is a recognized AWS partner, which means John can leverage the existing relationship with AWS and engage their local representatives, pushing for more adoption of AWS services to create recognition for both brands. He can research which of his prospects also have experience with AWS and quickly find common ground to explore a potential fit. 

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