Man in suit smiling offering business card

Wondering if there is a “magic formula” for American medical equipment manufacturers seeking to do business in Asian-Pacific countries?

The answer is both yes and no. Let me explain.

No, because selling medical equipment — or anything else — in Asia is like selling anywhere. You must have a great product. You must have knowledgeable, motivated salespeople. You must know your market, deliver great service, and follow up after the sale.

Business 101, right?

The second answer — yes — is a little more complicated.

Doing business in Asia is relational. Buyers want to do business face-to-face. Dealers in Asia Pacific want relationships with someone at the factory.

People Vote With Their Feet

I have an expression, “people vote with their feet.” To dealers in Asia, it’s really important that the feet of a factory representative are in their office.

I joke that every Asian medical equipment dealer has 2 boxes of business cards behind him in his office. One box has 400 business cards from American-made medical equipment companies. . The other box has only 40.

The US factory rep goes to meet the Asia Pac dealer in his office in Thailand, for example. The factory guy says, “This is my first time to Thailand. It’s a beautiful country. I’m happy to meet you.’

They talk for an hour and a half. They shake hands. The guy from the factory says, “I’ll be in touch.” He leaves. The medical equipment dealer in Thailand takes his card and puts it in the box of 400 because he thinks he will never see this factory rep again. He has met 400 people who have said. “I’ll be In touch.”

If the factory rep knows how to do business in Asia Pac–or he works for me–1 week later he sends the dealer an email. Three weeks later he sends another email.  He calls the dealer 4 times on his mobile phone and his office phone.

Three months later, my reps bring their feet back to the Thai dealer’s office for a second meeting.

Now that Thai dealer scrambling, looking for my Vice President’s business card in the box of 400. He pulls it out, and he yells at his staff, “Hey. This guy’s coming back again. What do we have to tell him? What have we done? What leads do we have?”