Manage episode 376854494 series 2952524
In Japan, we meet the client, build the rapport, seek permission to ask questions, ask the questions and then we set the date and time for the next meeting. Usually, in the first meeting this is where we expect to get to and we know we have to come back with a lot more detail for the second meeting. What level of detail do we need to go into in the proposal? Decision-making is done differently in Japan, so the proposal carries a lot of weight here, because so many eyes need to check it.
Consensus decision-making is favoured here in Japan, because if something goes wrong, no one gets landed with the blame. We are all responsible, so actually no one individual is responsible. This has proven to be a winner for Japanese companies, when it comes to decision-making. The due diligence on a purchase decision means that many different sections and divisions will need to take a look at it. The idea is that section by section, the approval document proceeds upwards, toward executive sanction.
The individuals meeting with the salesperson won’t be the only decision-makers. The proposal document has to take into consideration that most of the people making the decision will never meet the salesperson. The proposal document has to mend it way through the buyer organisation on its own. The level of detail needs to be appropriate to the task. Generally speaking Japanese buyers are information vultures and have an insatiable appetite for data. They are all operating on the basis that risk reduction is the key thing to be considered and the antidote to risk is data and information. So for a Japanese proposal we should go in much heavier than we may do normally.
One of the dangers though is that the key points get swamped by the detail and it becomes less clear what needs to happen. Having a lot of supporting information in the appendices is a good idea, as it allows the data vultures to feast. It frees the rest of the narrative up to be more readily absorbed by the readers.
The key to the document is that it answers all of the questions being asked by those different section representatives who are charged with doing the due diligence. This is where the people we as salespeople are speaking to become very important. They will know better than we will what are potential sticking points for the other sections or areas of the most intense interest. It is difficult for us to second guess what all of those areas will be. We should ask for their help when preparing the proposal, so that we can capture everything needed. This takes longer at the beginning, but is quicker in the end, because the answers are there. The readers will move straight through the content, without us having to make too many revisions.
The proposal section on the solution will need to be the most detailed. How will it work and more importantly, how will it work inside their organisation? If we have a similar firm in a similar sub-section of the industry, we can reference, that is ideal. Japan loves precedent and they love having someone else’s example to peruse, rather than being the guineapig themselves. We have to anticipate what some of the concerns will be and address these in the proposal before they are brought up from their side. This way the various section readers can move more quickly through the document and speed up its internal elevation toward the C-Suite.
There will be some detail which is more important than other content and these sections should be kept in the main body. The appendices are where we can layer more complexity into the argument. If there is a need for those doing the due diligence to cover this off, they will seek it out for themselves. For everyone else, the detail provided will be sufficient for them to move the approval process forward. We don’t want to dilute the key advantages of our solution by drowning in too much detail. This is a tricky line to navigate and we have to make some decisions about where to hold certain data. We should err on the side of more data than not enough though. The data vultures need to be fed.
Proposals are great communication vehicles for attacking the doubters sitting behind the wall of the client’s office, who we will never meet. We have to anticipate their requirements and produce a document which covers off their concerns and which can be easily absorbed by everyone else. If we can strike that balance, then the chances of us getting the deal done go up dramatically.