Selling in India | Learning from the Sales Networking Meet 2020
Selling imported products from international companies requires a particular set of skills. It requires the right sales team and management who need to navigate India’s price sensitivity and bureaucracy to be successful. This year’s M+V Sales Networking Meet brought together MDs, CXOs, and National Sales Heads from over 70 companies who sell products in India from 12 countries.
The event blended hands-on experts with case-studies from successful companies – with lots of breaks for networking and sharing. The sessions on how to develop an Indian Sales Team, how to use digital marketing to sell B2B products were full of practical tips, and Mihir Koltharkar’s inspired and motivated the audience on selling better with hands-on magic! The real-life experiences of Georg Graf and Arun Kumar Durai in building successful brands in India complemented the expert panels of MDs sharing their best advice and expertise.
The biggest headlines are:
India is changing fast – you can see that in the infrastructural changes and the booming youth population.
There’s a need for harnessing the energy, and your young workforce needs solid training.
Selling foreign products in India can be very profitable, but you will need to think a little differently to succeed.
It is critical to have the right team in place – who can sell your products AND communicate effectively with the head office.
You need to ensure the team has excellent leadership and the right training.
A dual-brand strategy can be helpful, but you need to have a plan to ensure that one product line does not cannibalize the other.
India is one of the most price-sensitive markets in the world, and international products need to offer added value to customers to make the higher cost make sense. Often this is found in after-sales service and other customer relations management.
In India, customers are sometimes treated like gods. In reality, customers need the best product, and there is a relationship between supply and demand.
Product localization is vital in India. The example showcased was Benz who had to market their trucks as “Bharat Benz”.
Firms need to invest time to understand customer requirements and sell to fulfil those.
India may look like a market with lots of opportunities, but you need to understand your Indian consumers’ moods – and these vary with each 100 km distance!
You can probably achieve more than you first estimate so be creative, ambitious and confident.
Have a reliable system for measuring your sales and analyzing where there are opportunities.
Your customers are getting younger in India, and younger customers are much more comfortable with buying from strangers (e.g. Uber, Tinder, etc.). You need to ensure you have an authentic and transparent online brand.
You don’t have to post or tweet every day, and many social media platforms are not relevant for B2B products, but you need to be online and have an authentic presence to build trust with younger buyers.
Back in 2018 at our last Sales Meet, Sales Managers kept stressing that it takes time to get a foothold and build your niche, and you need to take a “long term view”. This year a lot of the experts repeated this message to foreign firms: have patience and “don’t come to India with hand luggage” (you need to spend time and understand the market).
India can be a great alternative to China, but the government still has to simplify the labor laws, as well as offer more favorable terms on land acquisition to foreign companies looking at investing in the long-term economy of the country.
All-in-all it was a truly inspiring and engaging day – despite heavy rain and the uncertainties about the coronavirus. It really complemented the learning from the 2018 meeting on the challenges of selling foreign products in India. We look forward to doing it again next year!
Maier+Vidorno is the leading specialist for companies selling international products in India. We have end-to-end solutions for global companies entering and/or expanding their business in India. Our team of 150+ employees specialized in Market Research, Finance & Accounting, Supply Chain & Order Execution, HR, IT & ERP and Company Secretaries all supported by our in-house recruitment and countrywide offices.
There are no better experts to tell you about selling foreign products in India than Indian Sales Managers of international companies. Contact us today.