Favorite hangout in Japan:
Marunouchi. I like the area around Tokyo Station. It is a mix of historical and modern, with skyscrapers, startup hubs, traditional Japanese buildings, and the Imperial Palace.
Recommended industry reading:
All the books by Tony Robbins and Peter Drucker. Peter is well known for organizational strategy, while Tony encourages entrepreneurs to stay positive and true to themselves. For foreigners looking to start a business in Japan, I highly recommend Confucianism. It can help you understand Asian society and its relationship-based community.
Tell us about your background
In 2008, I moved from Zagreb back to my hometown of Rijeka. This is where I met my wife, Wakana Takahashi.
From that moment on, I knew that nothing in life happens by accident. Wakana is a pianist who, at the time, was studying at The Academy of Music at the University of Zagreb. She is now a piano professor and owner of Marina Piano School in Tokyo.
If anyone has changed me for the better, it has to be my wife through her artistic expression, strength, courage, and positive mentality.
I was born and raised in Croatia, where I studied business economics for my bachelor’s degree. After that, I worked for a retail company called Alca Zagreb for five years, moving from in-house business trainer to area sales manager. I had a good time and learned a lot there—particularly the importance of communication skills in understanding market needs, client problems, and finding solutions to those problems.
I decided to move to Japan in 2014 and, before beginning work in the Japan market, I did an MBA at GLOBIS University. The program not only polished the business skills I had, but also helped me understand Japanese business culture. It gave me a cross-cultural perspective as there were students from 16 countries.
What skills are required for ad sales?
I would say understanding customer behavior and market needs, and a passion for solving client problems. First, your strategy must be based on knowledge of the market, your opponents, and your target audience. Then, using your proven strategy and passion, you need to build relationships and trust with clients.
What are the challenges and opportunities?
As with many jobs, sales performance is related to a positive mindset, strong personal brand, and good time management. With the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games coming, there are lots of opportunities for businesses. The biggest challenge for me was language.
What advice do you have for someone who wants to work in sales?
It always takes times to build relationships and engage with clients. You need to be patient. So, you might feel disappointed at the start. Just remember that, in Japan, people are more serious, more demanding, and take more time to make a decision.
Sales has its highs and lows. Remember that rejection is a gift that helps you better understand customer needs. Sometimes you are rejected simply because the company doesn’t need your help at the time.