Just before the US financial crisis, fall of the banking system and the global economic meltdown, we saw a lot of global companies take a keen interest in getting a foot in the growing Indian market. Though India was not spared by the financial crisis that started in the more developed countries, the economy and predicted the growth rate of between 7-9% remains quite impressive as against a lot of other places and is still a lucrative market for those who have their eyes set on it.
However, the Indian market is not always the easiest market to capture or get into. As simple as it may seem on the outside, there are a bunch of things that have to be taken into account from how things work, government policies, bureaucracy, work ethics, business practices, culture and a whole lot more. Getting things done right needs a complete understanding of all these factors and an ability to adjust to the local market. The best option available to most companies was to tie up with a local partner and settle into the new market with their help. Whether it was purchasing or leasing office space, getting registration and legal work done, accounting or recruiting staff, partnering with a local firm helped resolve these issues and helped ease the process of entering and growing within a new market which comes with its own very unique set of challenges.
Marketing & sales are no exceptions. Understanding of the local markets, company structure, decision-making process etc is key. Having that local understanding helps tremendously and it doesn't end there. There are a number of bad experiences we've heard about or come across where these relationships didn't work simply because the local company on the ground didn't really understand or respect their offshore counterparts business practices and culture so there can't be any synergy in these cases. It's important to find that synergy where both companies have a clear idea of expectations and what needs to be delivered.
When you are looking to build your marketing databases and lists of Indian companies here are a few tips to keep in mind which will help you:-
- Although English is widely spoken throughout India and you can get around fairly well, it's good to know Hindi as well as some other regional languages to get past gatekeepers, navigating to find right decision makers and collecting intelligence. A person is more likely to feel more comfortable conversing with someone who speaks their native tongue.
- Gatekeepers are good at keeping key management shielded from calls and emails but they are also often very well informed of what their executives do and can be great sources of information to understand requirements and so on.
- The CEO or president of the company is more likely to be known as the Managing Director. Managing Directors, Directors, and General Managers are often the top level executive decision makers in companies where titles like President and Vice President are not used.
- Indian executives and decision makers are often more easily reachable on their mobile phone numbers and are not always offended by those who call them on their cell phones. It's a fairly widely accepted practice.
- The best times to reach decision makers and executives in India are between 9:00 am to 11:00 am at the start of the day and the last one hour of the day which is between 4:00 pm and 5:00 pm.