Job Description of and Requirements for Sales Positions at Japanese Companies in Germany
What are the most common types of jobs available? In Japanese companies, sales jobs are the most common. In this article, an in-depth explanation of the often advertised and popular job title “International sales position,” will be provided. Particularly, this article will describe what the job entails and what skills are required.
What is the sales position of Japanese companies in Germany?
Sales positions at Japanese companies are the most popular positions for fresh graduates in Japan – regardless of their specific undergraduate degree. This is not because just about anyone can get a job in sales, but because they want to make sure that fresh graduates understand the sales position, a position that is responsible for generating a company’s initial sales.
Depending on performance, a sales employee can even reach an annual income of over 80.000 Euro, and since one gets to travel to different places, it is one of the most popular jobs.
Generally, although a sales position does not require any professional qualifications, it does require good communication skills in order to talk to clients and customers, and knowledge in a wide range of fields. In particular, the international operations department (which is considered to be one of the most important parts of the company) requires general knowledge in the field of commerce which encompasses: accounting, languages, cross-cultural communication, supply chain management, price management, international trading, and market analysis.
Japanese companies in Germany are often the hubs of Europe, and many of them have excellent Japanese employees. The skills required by Japanese companies for sales positions in Germany are similar and include language and cross-cultural communication skills, as well as trade knowledge.
- International Sales Department is a top position in Germany.
- Sales positions are expected to work as a “generalist” with a thorough knowledge of commerce.
So, what is the specific job description of a salesperson working for a Japanese company in Germany? Basically, for Japanese companies operating in Germany, the position entails being in charge of either the domestic market in Germany or the global market (other European regions, Russia, Arab countries, etc.).
Especially in the case of markets where large sales are expected in Germany alone, the company will concentrate solely on the German market. In this case, commercial communication skills are required to be able to negotiate with German customers. On the other hand, some Japanese companies set up their European headquarters with inventory in Germany, from where they sell their products to other EU countries, Arab countries, and Russia. In these cases, the salesperson will need to be able to deal with customers and have knowledge of exporting and logistics from Germany to other countries.
The specific customers vary depending on the industry. For example, the main targets for auto part manufacturers are automobile factories and automobile manufacturers, and retailers and distributors for interior product lines. There can also be transactions with Japanese companies, but in those cases, negotiations are conducted in English or German, so Japanese is not necessarily required.
Sales operations for Japanese companies in Germany are so dynamic! Last week I was in Sweden, next week I will be in Denmark, and in between work I can relax and enjoy the beautiful nature there.
The job description for a salesperson in Germany is to manage the sales to these customers (distributors, retailers, and direct customers) and act as a liaison with the head office in Japan.
The difference between a sales position in Japanese companies in Germany and local German companies is that salespersons may be in charge of communicating with the head office in Japan, which requires Japanese language skills. In particular, the reason why they need to manage numbers in sales in Germany is the Lead Time (delivery time), which is the transportation of products from Japan or other production bases to Germany. Without close communication with customers to manage inventory, they may face a situation where they cannot sell the product immediately even if the customer places an order.
For this reason, they are required to visit their customers in Germany and abroad face-to-face whenever possible, and to hold online meetings as often as possible to gather information as part of the daily work. In some cases, they also prepare and attend exhibitions in Germany, France, and the UK.
Sales Positions are also expected to play a dynamic role and work across borders. Explaining and presenting new products to existing customers, handling complaints, managing inventory, and in some cases, managing accounts receivable are required.
- Frequent travel within Germany and abroad
- Receiving orders and pitch orders to sales assistants
- Special attention must be paid to inventory management
- High interpersonal and presentation skills in English and German (and sometimes Japanese) are required
- More often than not, the positions will be dealing with existing customers rather than new ones
As can be seen, the sales representative position for a Japanese company in Germany requires a broad knowledge of commerce, but what are the specific requirements for applying?
Regarding languages, English skills ought to be at least at C1 level, while German is almost a must. However, German may not be required for some technical fields (although, if the positions focus on the German market, it is better to have some German skills).
As for Japanese language skills, although there are businesses with other Japanese companies operating in Germany, it is not a must. However, depending on the position, C1 or higher may be required.
As for work experience, it is desirable to have at least three years of sales experience (especially at Japanese companies). However, in some cases, people with no sales experience can also be hired. In such cases, Japanese language skills are required for communication with the Japanese office, thus having experience studying or living in Japan can be an advantage.
In addition, the ability to work with minimum office applications such as Powerpoint, Excel, and Microsoft Word is also required.
- English is at least C1 level
- German is almost a must (with some exceptions)
- Japanese is not required by some companies
- Powerpoint, Excel, Microsoft Word skills are necessary
- Experience working for a Japanese company is a big advantage
- A high level of communication skills with Japanese, Europeans (and Americans) is required
In addition to the application requirements mentioned above, what other skills would be valuable? If the company has a European headquarters function, it would be very advantageous to have proficiency in another European language (other than English, such as Spanish, French, Russian, etc.), as sales outside Germany are frequent.
Furthermore, if the manufacturing base is in China or Taiwan, the employee may have to negotiate with such suppliers regarding purchasing, thus making Chinese language skills useful. If the employee is working in the sales department, they will not be required to speak much.
Additionally, if the employee in question is working with clients outside of Germany, they will need to export from Germany to those countries, so knowledge of the trade is a plus. It is better to be familiar with the commercial laws of those countries, but this is rarely required in practice.
Moreover, when developing new markets, statistical knowledge and research skills are valuable, as market research and price management may be required. In such new markets, it is necessary to do marketing from scratch, rendering marketing and branding skills highly valued.
- Knowledge of other European languages
- Trade knowledge
- Market research skills
- Marketing skills
What personality may fit?
When it comes to personality traits, since the position requires the personnel to be going on business trips to Europe, Africa, and Arab countries, a candidate should be someone who is not afraid of business trips. If a candidate enjoys traveling abroad for half of the year, they would be a perfect fit for international sales.
In addition, although it is rare in Germany, there is a possibility that having meals and drinks with buyers from different countries is a requirement, so people who can enjoy interpersonal business are considered to be good candidates. Those who have studied abroad and have experience getting along with others from different countries are thus suitable for this job.
- Like traveling
- Good at cross-cultural communication
- Have a deep understanding of Japanese culture
Skills can be learned
Finally, what skills can be learnt through this position?
First of all, since the position means the employees are working with Japanese and European buyers all the time, they acquire language skills whether they like it or not. It’s not just school English, but real language skills suitable for business. They can learn business Japanese, English, and sometimes other Asian languages.
Furthermore, it has been proven that negotiating with Japanese colleagues and overseas business partners can enhance the ability to deal with different cultures at a cognitive level, and even if the person in question moves to another company in the future, they will still be able to work as an overseas sales representative.
In addition, Japanese companies offer business trips, secondments, and training in Japan, providing the opportunity to visit Japan and receive training.
If the sales employee wants to develop a new market from scratch, they will need to conduct business practices and price research in that country, thus making it possible to take a different position in the future in sales promotion or the product development department.
- Develop excellent language skills
- Improve cross-cultural competence
- Acquire general business commerce knowledge Europe
- Can expect a dynamic career at the head office in Japan
Please see below for sales and sales assistant jobs at Japanese companies in Germany.
- Monochronic vs Polychronic Cultures: Difficulties Europeans May Face When Working with Japanese People
- The Biggest Japanese Community in Germany: Business Life in Düsseldorf
- List of Jobs in Germany that do not Require German Language Skills
- What is Ringi? Unique Japanese Decision-making System
- Manners When Having Dinner With a Japanese Boss or Colleague