Having been born and raised in India (New Delhi), I would first advise anyone wanting to do business here to understand the incredible diversity you are facing. In today’s world there is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all solution, and in India this is perhaps more true than in many other markets.
There are multiple Indias. Consider this: Indian currency is written in 17 languages – on any one currency note. Culturally, there are 90 festivals, six major religions and 2,000 ethnic groups. As a result, you really need to know who your customers are and customize your product, your approach – even your negotiating style.
Choosing the right partner is also critical – whether it’s a licensee, agent or joint venture. India is complex; what appears on the surface might not be the reality. Getting data is tricky, plus regulations and other issues require local knowledge. You have to have the right local expertise to really understand the market.
Business moves relatively quickly in India. However, when it comes to establishing relationships with new vendors, it could be a long process. You have to be patient. Count on making half a dozen trips, as a minimum, to build relationships before you get any orders from Indians. And bear in mind, Indians have multiple options right now; the world is knocking on their door and they will take the time they need to do business on their own terms.
- World’s 3rd largest economy by purchasing power parity
- One of fastest growing economies: 7.1% in 2011; 7.3% forecast for 2012
- 2nd largest population (nearly 1.3 billion)
- Top sectors of opportunity: infrastructure, automotive, environment (cleantech, biotech), ICT
Forget email, go face-to-face
Unlike North America, e-mail is not the primary medium of business communication, at least not until a serious relationship is established. Face time is paramount. Your representative should be someone high up the chain, as that indicates serious interest to Indian companies.
Indian businesses want to see great value. Indians are hard negotiators but are willing to pay the price if they see real value. The key is for them to perceive they are getting more than the actual cost of the product or service. This goes hand-in-hand with a powerful, cost-conscious market. So show them the value.
And Canadian companies have a great deal to show. I know this from my 12 years spent studying and working in Canada, and from meeting so many dynamic companies in my role here in India. I’m also very active in helping those businesses meet potential buyers and partners in India, with whom we have built good relationships and strategic financing arrangements.
For example, early this year, my EDC colleagues and I took the lead in planning and setting up meetings for Canadian companies with leading Indian auto manufacturers (OEMs) with whom EDC has a financing relationship.
As a result of the matchmaking session with Tata Motors, Samco India, a subsidiary of Samco Machinery in Ontario, received a request for quotation (RFQ) from Tata for supplying a roll-forming line. This was a direct result of Samco’s presentation to senior Tata officials who visited their manufacturing operations near Delhi.
Last year, EDC served close to 300 Canadian companies doing business in all key sectors of India. There is no limit to the growth our customers can achieve in this country. My colleagues Vibhav Agarwal and Leena Subramaniam in New Delhi, and Stanley Santmayor, Simonil Bamji and I in Mumbai, are here to help you move your business plans for India forward.