Maximizing B2B Reseller Impact: Strategies for Japan

Maximizing Impact for B2B Resellers in Japan: Effective Strategies to Drive Success

Maximizing B2B Reseller Impact: Strategies for Japan

Learn effective strategies to maximize impact for B2B resellers in Japan and drive success in the competitive market.

Executive Summary

  • Direct Management is Key: Effective reseller management in Japan requires direct oversight of frontline salespeople, not just relying on reseller managers.
  • Focus on Training: Deep involvement in training during the first three months post-contract is crucial to ensure resellers are motivated to sell your products.
  • Strategic Partnerships: Prioritize building strong, one-on-one reseller relationships to navigate complexities and achieve market success.

Reseller seems a low-cost GTM option. Is it really? 

Entering the Japanese market offers both unique challenges and exciting opportunities for overseas companies. A crucial component of a successful market entry strategy is the effective management of reseller relationships. Resellers are vital in expanding your market reach, but their management demands a nuanced and strategic approach.

In this blog post, we will explore the complexities of managing resellers in Japan, emphasizing the importance of direct oversight, strategic communication, and focused training. Building strong relationships with top-level management is essential, but the true challenge lies in engaging and motivating the frontline sales teams who drive your products to market.

We aim to provide actionable insights and practical strategies for overseas companies seeking to optimize their reseller partnerships in Japan. By understanding the intricacies of reseller management and implementing targeted approaches, you can enhance your market presence and achieve sustained success in the Japanese market.

Does a reseller manage its people?

The answer is both yes and no. Managers must oversee their teams to meet projected sales targets. However, when considering whether they solely focus on selling your products or services, the answer is no.

Often, individual salespeople are striving to meet their KPIs, which may not always align with proactively selling your products. Managing and maintaining existing accounts is a challenging task. Simply sourcing new services and products doesn’t mean they can immediately integrate them into these accounts.

Therefore, the key is to manage frontline salespeople from your side rather than relying solely on the reseller’s managers. This approach may seem beyond the typical scope, but sometimes crossing these boundaries is necessary to achieve desired results.

While establishing strong relationships with management at the executive level in English is beneficial, the bigger challenge is managing frontline account sales teams who may only understand Japanese.

In B2C contexts, field sales and account sales have minimal involvement in the conversion process. However, B2B interactions are more complex, requiring management from the top down.

Do you know what else they are selling apart from your products or services?

The likely answer is no. Moreover, the internal KPIs and metrics they use to run their business often remain a black box. Generally, resellers prioritize selling the most profitable products or services. If they foresee profitability, they may invest their time accordingly.

Sometimes, resellers prioritize sales, recurring revenue, or reducing churn rates over immediate profits. Therefore, it’s almost impossible to ensure that your services are always their top priority. Juggling multiple products and services is not easy, and profitability alone does not guarantee high priority if the selling process is difficult, and vice versa.

Effective communication with resellers is complex and requires navigation to encourage them to sell your product. This process takes time and effort, as partnership contracts alone are insufficient.

While upper management may be enthusiastic about the partnership, conducting PR and marketing efforts, it’s the salespeople who ultimately sell your products.

If managing resellers is difficult, why not hire more resellers and focus only on the most effective ones?

This strategy can be a basic pitfall. Unlike direct sales, which can be a numbers game based on contact and response percentages, managing resellers is different.

The key is to manage resellers immediately after signing the contract, within a crucial three-month period. During this time, deep involvement in training and education is essential. If done correctly, the business progresses; if not, frontline account sales may lose interest and stop promoting your products.

Regaining traction with a reseller once lost is extremely challenging. Thus, unless you have many partner sales headcounts, it’s ideal to focus on one reseller at a time. Once you see progress after three months, move on to the next target. Until then, it’s best to go all-in with the newly acquired reseller.

Partnering with reseller is low-cost GTM, and yet need some efforts

Successfully navigating the complexities of reseller management is essential for overseas companies looking to enter and thrive in the Japanese market. We have highlighted the importance of direct management, strategic communication, and focused training to ensure that resellers are motivated and equipped to sell your products effectively.

By prioritizing strong, one-on-one relationships with resellers and understanding their unique challenges and priorities, you can foster partnerships that drive sustained market success. Remember, the initial phase post-contract is critical—deep involvement during this period can set the foundation for long-term success.

In conclusion, adopting a hands-on, strategic approach to reseller management can significantly enhance your market entry efforts in Japan. With careful planning and execution, you can overcome the inherent challenges and leverage reseller partnerships to achieve your business objectives in this dynamic and competitive market.


Minoru Shiina