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If I can’t travel, can I still win business in Asia?

If I can’t travel, can I still win business in Asia?

Alex Gover  |  |  |  +44 (0) 7771 900525

Travel restrictions mean global sales execs can’t get out to meet prospective Asian customers right now, whether at their offices or at industry exhibitions and events. This is a concern for many companies, but all is far from lost — if you take a smart approach and have the right support on the ground.

Ramping up 

With COVID-19 now largely under control in Asia, trade shows there are ramping back up. Full preparations are under way, for example, for CACLP, one of the world’s largest medtech shows, taking place in China in early July. And Asian corporations are decisively back to business — and on the look-out for products, technologies and services to take their companies forward.

Western CEOs and Sales VPs with an international outlook are understandably worrying that their inability to attend events and meetings in Asia means a weakened pipeline, with business lost to domestic competitors. Their assumption is that if you can’t meet face-to-face, you can’t earn a customer’s trust and do a deal. But is that right?

Remote support

A senior Japanese VP friend recently told me what he really wants is two things: (1) a product that works, and (2) someone local he trusts that can answer commercial and technical questions.

As I mentioned in my earlier blog post on how to beat the travel ban, we’ve recently helped secure dozens of deals with Japanese, Chinese and Korean technology companies — without our clients ever having to leave Singapore, Silicon Valley or Tel Aviv.

Some of those solutions were highly complex but there was never a case where a commercial or technical issue couldn’t be resolved remotely – by reviewing the data and following up by video conference.

But invariably we had to be there to keep the conversations on track. When a senior Samsung VP asks a left field question on Zoom, someone needs to step in to prevent an unnecessary hour off topic.

On the ground support

So it’s definitely not the case that you need to travel to Asia to do the deal. What you do need is people on the ground to support you — by identifying your prospects in the first place, navigating the decision-making process and providing cultural and linguistic support throughout. 

One way to achieve this is to hire locally. But this can be expensive and drawn out.

Another option is to use a company with a proven track record which has bilingual teams in place and the sector knowledge, commercial skills and cultural know-how to secure your next deal.

In the coming months, it looks like we’re going to be busy representing our clients in East Asia while they can’t travel — both at their potential customers’ premises as well as at trade shows across the region.

If you want to be at an event in Asia or are looking for support on the ground in China, Japan, Korea or Taiwan, don’t hesitate to get in touch to see if we could help.

You can contact Alex Gover at or on +44 (0)7771 900525

Alex Gover
About the Author

Alex Gover

Alex Gover is our SVP of Business Development. Now based in London, he has worked in and with East Asia for the past 25 years, including at Sony's International Marketing Division at the company's head office in Tokyo. He studied Japanese, Chinese and Economics at Oxford University before going on to take a Diploma in Advanced Japanese at Sophia University in Tokyo.

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