Japan General Manager - Business Development Director - Kim Christian Botho Pedersen

Key Skills

Japan specific skills:

 
Nothing is more important when doing business in Japan, than understanding the culture and being able to think and behave like the local people. A lot of companies however, dont realise this and look for a technician or person with skills related to the product or service. No wonder, 99% of expats in Japan fails.

Doing business in Japan, first of all means to build strong relationships and trust with your customers.

Understanding the product can be achieved in a short time. Understanding the advantages a product have compared to others is easy for a natural salesperson. Technisians can be cunsulted when and if necessary to clarify issues. Technical issues are often logic with only one or a few answers, but understanding a culture as difficult and different as the Japanese is to our own, to understand the people in Japan, knowing what to do to sell a product, cannot be learned from one day to another. It takes years and decades, and if you did not grew up in Japan, you might never learn it.



 I grew up in Japan. I am both a Japanese and a Dane at the same time. I am a business man with a good sense of spotting new business areas, new ways of doing things, minimizing risks and doing things more efficiently.

Being both Japanese and European in nature, makes me unique and capable to navigate in- and combine the traditional Japanese and the Western way way of doing things.

This skills of combining the two cultures to the full, is the advantage your company wants on the Japanese market. This is what create your success in Japan.

Very strong complaint handling skills (complaints are opportunities):

You might think:

"why mentione complaint handling under key skills...??? I rather want a person who dont create situations where complaints handling skills becomes necessary."

Well that is understandable. However, Japan is famous for making a problem out of things that never will be considered a problem anywhere else on the planet. Further, Japanese tend to analyze your way of handling the complaint to understand whether they can trust you (your company) or not. Thus, the complaints themselves are often not the real issue. The real issue is, whether you understand to take responsibility, whether you take the issue seriously, whether you act promptly to a complaint, whether you show willingness, and work hard to solve the issue.

A lot of Westerner would try to negotiate a reasonable deal, failing to understand what is the real issue. You can come up with the best deal, but its all lost, if you do not understand what is behind the whole story.

Thus, complaint handling is one of the most important skills at all in businesses dealing with Japan. If you fail to handle a complaint correctly, your business might be finished right there from one day to the next. You probably never know what hit you. And you will not get back into the business, no matter how hard you try, no matter how good a proposal you think you came up with.

You might find it odd, that even you have a lot of complaints from Japanese companies, it is indeed possible to carry on the business and make Japaense buy even more. It all comes down to how you tackle the complaints. Handling complaints correclty and better than anybody else, makes it possible for you to strengthen the relationship with your customers and the trust in you increases.

Complaint handling is difficult for Westerner as it is often considered as a "who is to blame" issue which it is NOT in Japan. Never run away. Never blame your customer. See the opportunity in it, rather than a single incident that might cost you a few dollars on the bottom line. Complaint handling is one of the situations where a Westerner often fails and cost the company a fortune. You need a person who knows what to do in this situation to survive and not the least, INCREASE your business in Japan.

To avoid complaints in the first place, frequent visits of your customer is often a very good investment. You need to be able to read between the lines when a Japanese tells you something. There are always small hints you can chose to catch or ignore. "Small hints" from a Japanese is usually a non negotiable demand. Most Westerner dont understand this at all. Small hints are often taken as "a comment which does not require further attention unless the problem becomes bigger". A huge mistake... Simply.

I am a very good, probably one of the best Westerner at all understanding, handling and avoiding complaints on the Japanese market.
 

Strong marketing skills:

 
Marketing in Japan is quite different from Markeeting in Europe or any other country. Marketing in Japan, often has to build bridges between two completely different worlds.

Japan is a country of strict traditions, written and unwritten rules and common sense that everybody has to follow - except for foreigners. To break the rules might have fatal consequenses as you can be regarded as a person with no respect or common sense which is really bad reputation in Japan. To become "one of them" you must understand the rules and follow them. If you are "one of them" you will be trusted, invited and Japanese might go a very long way for you.

On the other hand, if you are not "one of them", Japanese will not feel obligated the same way, to do anything for you. You will get a hard time launching your product in Japan.

Being "one of them" often means that you have no room for creative marketing strategies. Reason: We have always done things this way, and if you break the rule, you are no longer "one of us" and we do not feel obligatet to you in any way...

Japanese are afraid to be the first one doing things differently than the traditions says, because they are afraid of the consequenses of "breaking" the traditions or rules, in case it fails. DOing thins the way it has always being done, is a secure way of climing up the hierarchy in a Japanese company. But a foreigner doesnt have to face the same consequenses at all which gives the foreigner a much wider room for experimenting with marketing strategies. But to master this game, a really strong understanding of business in Japan is required. It is a bad idea to do experiments if you do not understand the rules. If you know the rules and follow them, you can create new ways that the society will accept and then it is regared "geinous" because you were the first one who did it this way. Foreigners with a deep respect, understanding and willingness to and records of actually having followed the Japanese rules even more than Japanese themselves, have all chances of creating new trends and ways of doing things in Japan and yet being supported 200% by the Japanese business society.

By understanding all those complex elements and analysing the situation, it is possible to create new and strong strategies that will make a huge difference for your company in Japan. You can chose to keep within the rules and traditions, but a genious strategist knows how to go around, bend or use the rules.
I have a degree from the Danish Export Institute in Denmark where I have studied export and marketing. So I have the basic understanding of Western marketing.

One thing is to study and get a degree / diploma, another thing is to have talent for what you do. Through the last 15 years, I have again and again demonstrated skills of being able to spot business opportunities other didnt, think logically, implement a business plan with success, create necessary networks within any industry I had to, solving problems other couldnt, etc. Some of these achievements can be found on the page listing my
achievements.

However, living in between two so fundamentally different cultures as the Danish and Japanese culture, have created a basis for never taking any one solution for the only one. I can always see other ways of solving the same problem where most people only see one or very few solutions. I will always come up with plan A, B, C and D.

Ability to build strong networks in no time:

Needless to say, Networking is one of the most important issues in Japan. Building a network within an industry creates the platform you need to accellerate your business.

Through my career in Japan, I have demonstrated very strong ability to build networks even on highest levels and even from scratch if necessary within a very limited time frame. Trust and honesty, understanding of the culture, showing respect for Japan and Japanese people, make this possible.

In Japan, I have network within a number of industries, including governmental organisations, the food industry, furniture industry, TV and media industry, building industry, manufacturing industry etc. I can build strong network within your industry in Japan in no time.
 

Excellent start up skills:

 
I have demonstrated excellent business management skills with an ability in setting up companies successfully. I have demonstrated the ability to start-up a company in all aspects of administration, marketing, sale, budgetting, recruiting, business planning and all practical operations. Recruiting the right Japanese staff members is one of the important issues in startup as well as knowing how to get the most out of the staff members. It requires extremely good knowledge about Japanese people to be able to do this.

Experienced business consultant:

Many tasks as business consultant between Japanese and non-Japanese companies, have learned me to spot issues that should be taken care of long before others. Further having had tasks related to many industries also makes me capable of draw inspiraitons and ideas for solutions from other industries creating a huge base of ideas.

Talented business plan creator:

There are thousands and thousands of ideas in the world. Some of them becomes a business and others dont. One of the key issue is whether you are capable of extracting the core issues of an idea, create an understandable marketing plan, where you have covered as many aspects of the idea as possible. Risks, opportunities, strengths and not the least threats must be uncovered.

The last 10 years, I have worked with many ideas aiming to create the perfect marketing plan for each of them. Understanding an idea, extract the points and create a marketing plan, is one of my strong skills and I love doing it. My business plans are usually full of inspirations, full of new ideas and ways of doing things.

I have created business plans within industries like furniture, food, electronic photoframes, clothings for pets (dogs),
working environment and much more. Most of the business plans has a core product but a vast number of sidebusinesses that can be entered. Thus the food project has ideas of kitchen ware, chain restaurants and much more on top of the core product which is food for consumers. The working environment have business opportunities within consulting, working environmentally friendly furniture and much more.

I am skilled and experienced in converting good ideas into an actual durable business plan leading to a very good profit for the owner.

Talented salesman and excellent sales management skills:

Selling a product or a service in Japan starts by selling your self to your customers. If you are able to sell yourself, they will trust you when you offer them a product or a service. It doesnt matter which product or service it is, as long as it is a product of relevance for the customer and a product that is competitive in price, quality, delivery etc.

I have proven track records of selling products and services within very different areas. But it all started with achieving the trust of the Asian company and the persons in charge. To achieve trust, is one of my major skills. I can simply sell anything in Japan.

Strong communicatin skills internally and externally:

Successful marketing of a product in Japan, often relies on the level of communication skills. Not only "simple" translations, oral and or written language skills, but the ability to really understand what is being said or meant by the Japanese. You need to be able to read the body language, and you also need to understand what they think (not only what they say).

With more than 40 years of relation to Japan, the Japanese language (Chinese characters) and more than 15 years of professional experience in different positions related to business with Japanese companies, I have build up a unique understanding of Japan and Japanese people, which makes me capable of understand what is said between the lines. A skill that only very few, if any other candidates posess.

Internally in a company, you need to be able to extract your staff members real opinion. It can be difficult to get a Japanese persons real opinion if you dont know how to get it. I have been used to look through the said word and get the real opinion out. A Japanese cannot hide from me. Externally it is also important to be able to read your customers, subcontractors or any other groups real opinion.
 

Souvereign Japanese language skills:

 
Without understanding Japanese, the Japanese market is difficult to approach. Japanese is one of the most difficult languages in the world and most Japanese dont speak understandable English.

My Japanese language skill is one of the skills that makes it possible for me to connect to Japanese companies imidiately. It is the key in establishing a good relationship. My look is Western, but I speak and act like complete native Japanese.
 

Practical skills:

I am a good business operational manager. I have many practical skills which are needed in an company established in Asia. Staff education, staff hiring, IT, common negotiations, and much more. Experience in homepage building for companies and setting up of the IT environment, including hard- and soft-ware, in an office.
 

True multitasker:

 
During my previous jobs, not the least as consultant, I am used to keep more than one complex issue and customer in mind, prioritize so all customers are satisfied and all tasks are solved satisfactory.