However, demand for our services from multinational clients working in China and large domestic Chinese companies outpaced our ability to deliver our sales training solutions from afar.
After careful analysis, it was clear that partnering with a strong domestic Chinese company would provide the most benefit when considering the costs, risks and time. Now, after an 18-month journey, we are pleased to announce that we just signed an agreement with KeyLogic, the leading integrated solution provider for personnel training in China. As partners, the two companies will collaborate and develop a full set of localized sales performance improvement solutions including assessments, customized sales training, and post-training sustainment tools.
In the process of seeking out a local partner in China, we learned 3 valuable lessons:
1) Get serious, this is a huge commitment
The idea of a partnership seems simple. Just find someone and they’ll do all the work and send you a check. Over the past 5 years, we probably looked at over 20 potential partners for serving our clients in China. In the early stages of consideration, we were more opportunistic and impulsive than strategic. Maybe we’d get an inquiry through our website or meet someone at a conference. Nothing really materialized until we got really serious and committed to the initiative.
2) Set clear partner criteria
We set strict criteria to guide our decision-making process, which KeyLogic met or exceeded on all fronts. These included:
- Successful partnering track record. KeyLogic is the exclusive partner of Harvard Business Publishing Corporate Learning in China. They introduced us to their contacts at Harvard and opened the door for us to ask some tough questions that reassured us they met our standards for integrity, professionalism and commitment.
- Client-centric values. KeyLogic had their own criteria for choosing us. We both believe that clients come first in every aspect of our businesses, from solution design to delivery and support. We both recognize that every client is unique, and we tailor our solutions to meet their exact needs and maximize success.
- Large existing client base. KeyLogic has an extensive client base of large domestic Chinese companies and works with many top executives in these organizations. Their clients recognize the need to evolve their sales organizations and are turning to KeyLogic because they have built a high level of trust.
- Demonstrated commitment to succeed. Through the entire process, KeyLogic demonstrated a sense of urgency, resources, and understanding of what it takes to succeed. It is easy to view the world through rose-colored glasses. It was evident that KeyLogic was equally serious about finding the right partner and not forcing a relationship or settling for less.
3) Be patient and flexible, and think “win-win”
Even working with an experienced and motivated partner, the agreement took nearly 7 months to close. In this day and age, times zone differences and the occasional telecommunication issues caused challenges and delays. There were many details to work out, which required an understanding and openness to language and cultural interpretation. I’m fortunate to have worked in Greater China and have a sound (but rusty) foundation in Mandarin. It helped getting together in person and working through issues face-to-face, which provided the opportunity to send and receive positive signals that we both wanted to get the deal done. Then of course, there were the lengthy legal reviews and the need to keep our businesses moving forward – it just took time.
Now that the deal is done, we’re in the process of operationalizing the venture and getting ready for launch. This is a very exciting time for both companies and we’re looking forward to a long a prosperous relationship. The added capability and reach is a huge asset for Richardson.