A division of Soft Landing Korea Ltd.
A winnowing out process among businesses is taking place . . . New, more competitive methods need to be implemented, often for sheer survival. Working smarter, not harder includes investing in professional skills, including consultative sales methods.
Korean decision makers should follow other countries' better examples in adequately investing in professional public relations and marketing companies and applying outside advice to the final decisions. Too often to date, decisions have been based on poorly thought out expediencies and even egotism.
Korean companies aspiring to become world class in their markets need to explore new strategies. Unlike in the past, it is now obvious that further growth requires world-class marketing, in which effective branding must play a major role.
There may be a cultural "gotcha," but too often foreign marketing professionals have prematurely jumped to that conclusion. It seems that a "cultural wand" is being waved about whenever there is a need to explain why sales are not up to standard. Foreign managers can be sorely tempted to pigeonhole the cause of their problems as "Korean culture" when there may be a lack – or misapplication - of marketing diligence.
The Korean consumers are rapidly evolving into independent urban buyers of goods and services who are both young in large numbers and yet also comprise a growing and graying baby boomer population. Korea’s consumers are among the most Internet savvy and are leading the world in finding new ways to acquire what they want whenever they want.
This concludes this two-part essay by recognizing that all consumers are not purchasers. Korea has some of the most traditional market practices and with some of the world’s leading edge retail channels. The foreign manager needs to know how to deal with both circumstances.
Korea is famous for its relationship selling in large business-to-business transactions. Traditional selling in a close-knit society requires personal relationships to generate leads and sales. Yet order taking is not a long-term substitute for professional selling. Managers face significant revenue dangers when selling is not seriously taken as a profession.
As the pace of change in business continues to quicken, the savvy operator accelerates to keep up. Below, a consultant focuses her sights on outmoded thinking among Korea's sales forces - and what changes they need to implement if they are to remain competitive.
Indirect selling can be one of the least expensive and lowest risk strategies. Among American firms selling into Korea are offshore companies that use local distributors. This approach offers obvious advantages, but also contains many hidden pitfalls.