Doing Business in India
Characteristics of India
India is the other Asian country whose economy is booming (with China of course). Although it is several years behind China in its economic development, India has a development rate at least as fast as its important neighbour. Development of infrastructures is hindered by a corrupted government, but the private sector is booming.
India is a completely democratic country. As a result, business practices are totally different from the rest of Asia. Business is based on free trade. You can market your products by direct sales.
Business in India is based on networking and building relationships, face to face meetings, and negotiation.
It is easier to do business in India by networking and building relationships, rather than direct sales contacts. But direct sales are also possible. Working on and developing relationships is mandatory. Business in India favors relationships, so it is important to maintain your precious relationships with your customers and prospects.
Visiting your customers is also mandatory. Your customers are looking forward to meeting you and pay a high importance to your visit. It is not rare to have a full room as an audience. You may have to present your products to 10 to 20 people. Your Indian customers will very much appreciate technical details about your products. Technical education is very high in India. During a meeting you will have to answer at least a dozen technical questions, most of them being very technical and very targeted. Giving satisfactory technical answers will prove your competence and will be very much appreciated. It can make the difference between closing a deal or losing a sale.
Finally, India is a country where negotiation is part of normal business practices. You will have to bargain and give in something, so be prepared. A price reduction of about 5% is common.
The country of sales agents
A sales agent will be of great help to enter the Indian market. Visiting clients being so crucial, a local sales representative will give you this precious capability. The sales agent will be able to visit customers, develop a relationship with your prospects, and negotiate contracts (the negotiation phase generally necessitates several meetings).
India is the country of independent sales agents. Many sales representatives from this country have probably already contacted you to sell your products. However, the quality of sales agents varies greatly. You will find sales representatives that try to make one great deal and maximize their profits but don’t try to grow the volume of sale of your products. You will also find very good and very professional sales agents that will be able to reach prospects very efficiently in a targeted market.
Try out several sales representatives until you find the one that you like. Do not grant exclusivity on a territory before being satisfied with your sales agent. Be careful though, once you have several sales reps consolidating the sales activities into one contact will be difficult. Once you find a good sales agent, gradually transfer all your business to him. Give him your new leads systematically. And be patient, consolidating your sales actions can take several years.
The fiscal year in India starts on April 1st and ends on March 31st. You will most likely receive your most significant orders at that time of year.