J Cheong is the regional business development manager for the solutions giant The Schaeffler Group. A global automotive and industrial supplier founded in 1883, it aims to shape the mobility of tomorrow.
In 2016, the Group generated sales of about €13.3 billion. With around 86,600 employees, the company is one of the world’s largest family firms and, with some 170 locations in more than 50 countries, it has a worldwide network of manufacturing locations, research and development facilities, and sales companies.
The business’ success stems from "top quality, outstanding technology and exceptionally innovative spirit", according to Cheong, who has an MBA from Thunderbird School of Global Management. In this interview, he talks about the power of focus, face-to-face meetings and trust.
What are some of the challenges you face in your role?
Cheong: The biggest challenge is to continuously grow our business.
How do you solve it?
Cheong: It is very important to be tuned in to industry trends and emerging businesses in ASEAN countries and get on-board at the earliest possible stage of development. If you are attuned to business trends, then you are well placed to keep growing.
How do you get your leads?
Cheong: Building on references and networking is the way to go about gathering business leads. In addition, we participate in events and platform initiatives such as conferences and business-matching sessions led by trade and industry associations in the region, which provide ample opportunities to network.
What is your approach to networking?
Cheong: Instead of using social media for networking, I adopt a more human-facing approach with the exchange of business cards. I find a face-to-face approach builds more trustworthy relationships.
How would you prefer someone to reach out to you?
Cheong: We always prefer face-to-face meetings. Email and calls can act as an introduction, but investing time and effort in face-to-face meetings involves commitment and willingness from both parties.
What is your most effective tip for increasing the sales of your product?
Cheong: Having trustworthy working relationships with your customers and suppliers is undoubtedly the best method. Even if you have challenges in the course of your business, problems can be solved amicably if you share a good rapport with them. Besides, this also leads to future business opportunities for our company as well as theirs.
What is your most effective tip for improving your own productivity?
Cheong: My productivity tip is to focus on doing a few important things well, every day.
What do you think about a business card management service such as Sansan?
Cheong: Sansan is an excellent business card management tool to help companies manage their contacts in an efficient and time-saving manner.
What do you think of the concept that business cards are the starting point of the customer journey, and that they can help to enhance your business leads and sales?
Cheong: Sharing business cards within the company and the ease of retrieving contact information while on the go are a big plus!