Klaus Maier | Managing Director | Maier+Vidorno
India is one of the fastest-growing economies in the world. With a fast-growing middle class of over 40 million and ever-higher disposable incomes, it is a lucrative market for companies worldwide. It’s not just a country but a subcontinent equivalent to the size of the European Union, with multiple cultures and linguistic variations. Therefore, it presents a big challenge for companies who want to explore this market.
Typically, foreign manufacturers enter the Indian market by appointing distributors. It gives you access to local market knowledge, countrywide access, and a salesforce with a ready-to-use network. It also needs a low initial investment or and no long lead times. Developing and maintaining a distributor relationship poses a lot of challenges: finding the right partner, conducting background checks, verification and appointing them. Every step is critical, and you often need more than one for India.
Many companies are unsure of the number of distributors that they require to cater to the Indian market. With vast geographies, diverse markets and distant business hubs, deep penetration is only possible with regional distributors who have an existing network, a deep understanding of their respective territories and excellent command on the dialect.
How does working with Maier+Vidorno (M+V) help?
On behalf of clients, M+V starts by defining criteria for your best fit distributor using our extensive knowledge and experience. A list of qualified companies is created and rated, and from this, a shortlist is drawn up. In-depth analysis and interviews of shortlisted partners help us review their operational setup, revenues, products, sector focus, experience in dealing with foreign companies, market penetration and willingness to partner. M+V shares the final shortlist with the client and organizes partner interactions and visits.
Once the distributor network is in place, overcoming the barriers like language, differences in business etiquette, culture and time zones become crucial. To keep a constant eye on distributor activity from abroad, you need to have dedicated staff and have to plan regular trips to India, which makes it a costly affair. To counter this, some companies opt to have dedicated salespeople hosted in M+V, while others outsource this role to our accounting and logistics teams.
An important factor determining your market success is the selling abilities of the sales staff. Most of the Distributors and dealers are multi-brand trading houses, working with various companies. Therefore, their staff’s deep understanding of the imported and high-end products and the ability to explain its benefits to the customer is a key factor contributing to sales in this highly price-sensitive market. Therefore it is imperative that you have the right distributor strategy, to fulfill your Indian market endeavors successfully.
For the last 20 years, Maier+Vidorno has been addressing these business needs of overseas companies, by offering support and services in areas of sales, service, distribution, warehousing, finance, accounting, and HR under its “Umbrella” services. This business incubation approach is a perfect way to learn and experience the Indian market. It makes sense to form your subsidiary in India once you succeed.