Finding Japanese Distributors Using Government Services

Many clients come to us after unsuccessfully trying to find Japanese sales partners using the matchmaking services provided by government agencies such as the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Gold Key Service, UK Department for Business and Trade, Canadian Trade Commissioner Service, Austrade, German Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Japan (AHK Japan), Business France, and Switzerland Global Enterprise.

Why are these government agencies rarely successful in helping foreign companies connect with the right Japanese distributors or sales agents?

I’ve talked with dozens of clients from all around the world about this and I believe these are three main reasons:

1. These organizations are understaffed and rely heavily on their existing databases of contacts to identify potential candidates. 

In our experience, this approach only works for certain kinds of consumer products.

Niche, B2B, industrial, technical, and scientific products require in-depth, industry-specific, customized research in order to find the right partners.

These organizations lack both the time and the right skills to dig deep into the market to put together a comprehensive list of the right candidates.

2. Staff at these organizations are hired primarily for their language skills. 

They rarely have any real business experience or true understanding of how foreign products are distributed in Japan.

3. There is little incentive for these agencies to “go the extra mile”. 

Unfortunately while they try to be as helpful as possible, the staff at these government agencies have no “skin in the game” and are paid the same regardless of the results they obtain or the efforts they make.

Finding Japanese Distributors Using Government Services

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Doing Business In Japan Using Distributors, Importers & Agents