Three keys to building business from Broadsoft's regional vice president
In this interview, we interview George Yong, a highly-seasoned IT & Telecoms sales and business operator with vast experience across Asia.
At the time of interview, George Yong was Regional Vice President, Southeast Asia and India of Broadsoft. He talks about his experience working with US vendors as a regional sales head.
As a business leader in the regional telco and tech markets, please tell us about your journey. Where did you start out?
I started my career in the early days with a few system integrators that provided total turn-key solutions in the area of data communication and computer networking to both enterprises and telecom customers as an Account Manager. Then I worked for several years, as a Product Manager with regional distributors that resell computer networking products via channel partners that sell directly to enterprise and telecom customers.
In the last 3 decades, I have been working for US vendors as their regional sales head to champion their product solutions and services to the Asia Pac market working with in-country and regional channel partners.
With such a history of success stories under your belt heading up businesses such as Sylantro (now Broadsoft), Convergence, D-Link and most recently taking Broadsoft to another level, what has been key to building these businesses?
The key to building these businesses are:
Firstly, understand the value proposition of the vendors’ product solution and services and how it can be adopted to the Asia market
Secondly, the need to appreciate that Asia Pac is not a homogenous market like USA. Different countries in Asia Pac has its own set of business culture and practice, different stage of economy and infrastructure development, legal and finance constraints, languages and competitive landscapes. Thus this is not a one-size-fits-all situation. You need to use different market entry models and selling strategies for each market in Asia
Thirdly, the ability to leverage and build long-term business relationship with local channel partners. The channel partners will help US vendors to keep their cost down in penetrating the market and manage all the local business risks. More importantly, channel partners are able to provide local level of services and support to ensure customer satisfaction.
What has fuelled your passion and enthusiasm for these international entrants in to the region?
To make them successful in the Asia Pac market, helping them develop the right organisation, sales, services and pricing in Asia so they can grow their revenue exponentially.
Of all these ventures, which have you found the most challenging?
One of the most challenging and satisfying ventures was taking my first US start-up company as the first employee in the region, starting from ground zero (zero customer and channel partners) to being a business with over US$10 million business in 3 years.
What could you tell anyone about the challenges of operating in Singapore?
Singapore is one of the best cities in Asia to start your first operation base. The country has a pool of highly-educated and diverse workforce, culturally adaptable, fluent in multiple Asian languages.
It also has best-in-class telecommunication, finance infrastructure and airports, a stable government and a very safe country. Within 6 hours of travel, you have access to a market with a population size of 4.2 billion people.
How does Singapore compare to other regional markets and what different strategies, if any, would you deploy for market entry across this diverse region?
You start with Singapore as the regional headquarters to start your sales and marketing activities. Start with signing up channel partners in other countries, then start setting up satellite offices in other cities once you see growth opportunities there.
How much do you think the history of your relationships with the different stake-holders in the telco eco-system has helped you break through the barriers and effectively build customers for your business?
Quite a number of my network, friends, business associates have moved up the ladder to senior roles and others have moved to telcos with a larger portfolio.
A recent analyst report said that Broadsoft is ‘already entrenched with its customers’ despite tough competition. What is Broadsoft’s strategy for keeping its customers happy?
Its strategy is in providing consistent services and support with channel partners across the region, and the need to keep innovation ahead of the curve.
48% of businesses are likely to opt for cloud-based unified communications by 2020, so cloud will continue to grow. Beyond the cloud – what is the next frontier?
IOT and Video Communication services will have the greatest impact on mobile networks. However, data that individual users is consuming per month today will be several times the amount in the next 4 to 5 years. Users are downloading a lot more information today.
You’ve had a lot of experience in sales in the telecom and technology sector. What's the most important sales tip you've learned over the years?
The key is to find the right channel partners that has the technology skill sets, customer relationships and the motivation to do business with you.
You have to find the right breed, the right size, and the right mind-set of leaders when it comes to channel partners … everything has to fall in place to make it happen.
You also need to share case studies with partners and customers on how you’ve been successful and how it can be adapted to the local market.
Lastly, for those technology players from North America, Europe and Australia and New Zealand looking to take that leap in to Asia, are there any high level take-aways that you can offer them?
The key is that Asia Pac is not a homogeneous market. What works in Singapore when it comes to market and sales strategy won’t work in Korea. Both countries have different competitive landscape and local market constraints.
This interview was conducted by Vision Consulting.