We caught up with Fraser Morrison, SBN Ambassador for Singapore, to discuss his experiences and advice on winning work in Singapore. Fraser provides some fascinating insights on life in Singapore as well as work-winning tips on sales optimisation.
Tell us a bit about yourself and your background.
I run a company called 1000Steps, a sales optimisation business, based in Singapore – we have been in operation for 20 years now. I am from Aberdeen and have family back in Scotland, usually spending around 2-3 months in Scotland throughout the year.
Tell us how you help salespeople/ sales teams win more work?
I believe selling comes back to the basics in which there are three separate parts:
- • Lead generation – this is how you engage with prospects, leads, target accounts lists and how you do this engagement on a consistent basis that allows them to be brought into your sales pipeline.
- How salespeople/ management run meetings and structure these to consolidate a sales process.
- How salespeople use technology and how the structure all amalgamates together as a sales process.
When did you move to Singapore, why you made that decisions and also tell us about Singapore?
I lived in Stonehaven – just outside of Aberdeen – and worked in Financial Services. I had a reasonably successful career; however, an opportunity arose 23 years ago to work in Financial Services in Singapore.
Singapore is an interesting place, most people seem to think it is all rules and regulation based, however it really isn’t like that and is rather flexible. They are very firm in relation to the law and any potential breaches of this. In a business environment it is very connected and can be the entry point for Asia as a whole.
When did you join up with Scottish Business Network? Why did you want to take part and how are you finding the role?
I met Russell Dalgleish – the chairman of SBN – around 5 years ago. I was really inspired by him and his team. We both have similar views on sales as a journey with our clients and as such it was a natural transition from this conversation for me to represent SBN for Scottish businesses seeking to win work in Singapore.
I feel that some Scottish companies are somewhat hesitant about stepping out into the wider world. Some want to have base level guarantees and as such I find my role is to put across the point that you must first step out. This allows me to provide insights on how to get into Singapore and really support Scottish businesses expand their expertise around the world.
Tell us how the Scots are viewed in Singapore.
Scottish people are quite similar to Singaporeans actually – they’re thoughtful, gentle, they like dead certs and don’t want to take risks. They do know of Scotland’s culture and they really relate to it.
How easy is it for foreign businesses to win work in Singapore?
It is about as difficult as any market around the world. You need to have a clear target market and a need for your product / service in that market. There are stages to step into this – how does your product fit, who’s going to use it and then having conversations with individual around this. I would suggest planting someone in Singapore for around 3 months to get familiar with the culture – how people communicate with each other, what they eat, how they live and work and what motivates them. So, overall, it is definitely different to Scotland.
Do you need to meet Singaporeans in person to do business with them?
Yes, they’ll be more willing to do business with people they have met in person, or individuals that have mutual connections through business. Some businesses in Singapore are behind the curve on software, thus, they are very likely to be open to software-related business opportunities.
Would they be willing to engage with technology-related products / services?
Yes, it is a very dynamic environment and from that you can scale up based on connections you’ve made. You may then be able to send people from your organisation to expand your brand in Singapore.
What are the time differences and cultural differences between Scotland and Singapore?
Time difference is 8 hours in winter and 7 in summer. Singaporeans tend to start later and work slightly later, i.e. – finish at 6pm. Culturally they’re extremely intelligent, however, you shouldn’t assume you know better than Singaporeans. The key to success is by being open, humble and listening. Business opportunities are successful through building up healthy relationships first and then getting on with business after.
What are your top 3 tips for winning work in Singapore?
You have to understand how you fit in the marketplace, this can be based on conversations with people in Singapore and the business community within there.
- Build up networks and contacts with expatriates and local people – evolve these so that you can gain their trust.
- Set up a systematic sales cycle – have a certain number of meetings each week, contact engagements etc and from this will allow you to judge the prospects of success.
- Overall, you need to have someone on the ground in Singapore for a minimum of 6-12 weeks to get a real grasp of the environment
What sectors are potentially fruitful for foreign businesses to integrate into Singapore?
There is a population of 5 million people, anyone can come here – it is a modern marketplace. Wise, smart individuals, anybody can come to Singapore, regardless of sector as long as you relevant opportunities and a real passion for the work you do.
What do you think the main new trends will be for sales during the 2020s decade?
Nurturing clients properly, being an individual that a company wants to talk to about issues they have. I would like to think that there will be an adoption of product-centric sales professionals that care about their client and don’t have manipulative sales processes.
Tell us about your endurance athlete achievements and how these helps your business life?
There is a co-relation between sport and being successful in business. Both benefit from self-discipline, constantly improving and strengthening mental wellbeing. My athletic efforts were tracked and data was stored, so it seemed the natural step for me to run my business like this – identifying and analysing data. Setting goals, having structure allows us to be better within our roles in business and in ourselves. I would recommend is doing exercise sessions at least once a week.
Within my age group I was able to achieve 5th best in the world for triathlon. This was the pinnacle of everything I had done, and I am immensely proud of that achievement.
During the time you’ve been in Singapore, what are the things you miss most about Scotland?
I miss the Scottish weather! I love jogging within the cold, wet and sleet. The culture of Scotland is something I also miss, the lifestyle of Edinburgh in particular, along with being surrounded by my family.
With thanks to Fraser Morrison – 1000Steps
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