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Source Of Asia Damien Bazin

In my job as a business developer, this question comes up daily. It is all the more recurrent as, residing in Vietnam for more than ten years, I have to combine it with the imperative of the cultural barrier. In charge of the Market Expansion department at Source of Asia, my mission is to support our clients (mainly SMEs or startups) in their development in the ASEAN zone.

Does this mean that we are the ultimate specialists in the matter and that we have made it possible to sell glasses even to blind people?

If they are tinted perhaps, but that is not the thought I would like to express: in my opinion, the ability to sell is not linked to a question of personality but rather to an ability to put oneself in a good condition. Our customers, whether they are manufacturers, specialists in cosmetics, food processing or service providers, are above all experts in their field. I am thinking, for example, of this gynecologist who invented an intimate care product for women whom we support, particularly on educational themes, or even of this industrial process engineer with whom we contribute to the development of the Vietnamese offshore wind farm.

Our expertise is the knowledge and experience of Southeast Asian markets. Source of Asia was founded in 2007 with the idea of ​​putting this expertise at the service of companies wishing to develop in these countries. By working together, you put yourself in the right conditions to expand your activities in our preferred area.

Indeed you know best how to sell in Southeast Asia?

What we do in the first place is to tell you if what you are doing is saleable in Southeast Asia or not. This is even the whole point of our methodology: in 4 months, we are able to highlight the opportunities in a given market with estimation of the potential as a bonus.

So you are never sure of your shot, even in dynamic markets like Vietnam, Indonesia, the Philippines or Cambodia?

To paraphrase King Lot in “Kaamelott” TV Show, “When you want to be sure of your shot, you plant turnips, you don’t go into international trade.”

Entrepreneurship is uncertain, and it would be a lie to say the opposite, it requires courage and in that too it makes you grow.

” After all, isn’t entrepreneurship first and foremost a matter of courage? ”

The first step is therefore already taken, and in this sense, internationalization is only the natural development of many companies; we must not shy away from it, we must fully embrace it.

Moreover, you are not alone because our support is not limited to the simple identification of opportunities. Put yourself in our shoes: what is the point of embarking on a development project if we already know that after 4 months it won’t lead to anything concrete? And I put myself in your shoes: what are you going to do the day when we have entrusted you in detail with all these opportunities? Where are you going to start? I refuse, it would not put you in the right conditions…

” We take pleasure in sharing your ambitions.”

Thus, we want to be involved and approach any first discussion as the beginning of a several years relationship. If it is established that the opportunities are real, that we know the forces present, that we have even identified buyers, it would be frustrating for us not to pursue the effort with commercial follow-up and the sales force.

Therefore, the question remains: “How to sell?”.

It raises a contradiction even because the SOA representative does not have such expertise as you on your product as explained above. We can certainly learn (and we do for sure), but it takes time when the local demand is pressing. It is a matter of not falling into the trap of the easy one-shots (understand: compulsive order of the local prospect without long-term vision and without tomorrow…). Fortunately, this lack of product or service expertise is compensated by cultural expertise. To do this, we provide prospecting and local monitoring by locals who are familiar with commercial development (for Vietnam alone, we have a team of 10 Vietnamese business developers with their own sector specialization). Thus, we strive to share our long-term vision with previously identified and qualified prospects. Their feedback is also a way for us to sort out those who need to be prioritized and the others.

If it’s right, by combining product or service expertise with market expertise and cultural expertise, we sell for sure?

We are putting ourselves in the best conditions to do so! Do not forget the conjectural variables though: in this period of uncertainties related to the climatic, sanitary and political situation, it would be a shame not to take them into account.

The COVID19 pandemic was a real eye-opener for Vietnam, which was able to keep its head above water during this period: we never really stopped working. Connections continued to be made but by videoconference. The concretization of a business transaction took longer than usual, however, the interest and the demand were there. And while it was obvious that everyone was waiting for better days, there were always a few daring ones. For several months, therefore, we have endeavored to identify and approach these few audacious ones.

Now that the situation has calmed down and the indicators in the area are at their best, there is only one thing left to do: come and explore business opportunities in Southeast Asia.

Damien BAZIN