If you’re like me, your summer’s been quite uneventful. I’m talking Birmingham, not Bali for the annual family getaway. But the opposite has been true for our Asia-based teams who’ve been busier than ever, supporting our customers by travelling to meetings, attending events and making up for lost time as the region rebounds from COVID.
As we approach Q4, many of us in the west are still confined to our home offices, trying to figure out how to make things happen.
Zoom has been great for weekly team meetings, catch-ups with existing customers and Friday happy hours, but if you’re looking to develop new relationships or manage ongoing projects in far-flung places – it’s tough without that face-to-face interaction.
Back in May, my colleague Alex Gover blogged about how you can beat the travel ban and win business in Asia if you have a) a broadband connection and b) someone you trust on the ground. We thought we were onto something, but we underestimated how relevant our in-country services in China, Japan, Korea and Taiwan were going to become. It transpires that when you can’t travel, the need for a local presence is greater than ever.
Asia is pretty much back to business as usual now. Over the summer, some of the landmark events and trade shows started back up (case in point: look at how vibrant ChinaJoy was in July). The major tech conglomerates are pumping out new products and their innovation and investment groups are looking for ways to spend leftover cash.
In fact, we closed more deals in Asia on behalf of our clients over the last eight months than the whole of 2019. This was partly down to the launch of new services geared towards helping European and North American firms exhibit at Asian trade shows and meet prospective customers without the need to travel. And many companies are now getting comfortable with this new dynamic. Take Metron, a French energy intelligence firm we’re helping to target the industrial sectors in Japan and South Korea; Citrine, a US AI company that’s driving a Japanese business growth programme; and and Israeli 4D imaging firm Vayyar, for which we’ve recently kicked off a long-term sales initiative in China.
These companies are determined not to let COVID travel restrictions hamper their international expansion plans. And Asian corporations like Sony, Samsung and Huawei have accepted the fact that, in the near future, international business will be done over WIFI, not wontons.
But without someone on the ground to open doors, navigate, interpret and advise, it can still be tough.
If you’re interested in exploring options for your business in East Asia, or if you have ongoing projects that need re-energising, get in touch and let’s work on a plan together.