The Journal The Authority on Global Business in Japan

At the beginning of the year, the American Chamber of Commerce in Japan (ACCJ) Sales Development Committee leaders asked how the chamber might better support members whose job it is to develop sales? The answer came in the form of the committee’s most groundbreaking initiative, the Sales Support Alliance (SSA), which was officially launched on October 15 in the Boardroom of the ACCJ’s Tokyo office.

Working Together
The SSA is a series of regular monthly meetings at which members can systematically share sales leads and make intro­ductions with those that have matching requirements.

“We can harness the unrealized potential of our committee membership and the ACCJ membership at large,” said Carlo La Porta, co-chair of the Sales Development Committee. “We all have valuable knowledge and networks. The alliance has been created to put those assets to work, helping us all boost our sales and grow our businesses.”

Unlike a one-off networking event, the SSA will build an enduring community of sales professionals that enables them to build confidence and trust over time. The monthly meetings will also include a scheduled time for members to share sales-related expertise and to develop closer, more rewarding relationships than are possible at one-time events.

Lead By Example
The SSA is led by participating members so that everyone has a voice in guiding and improving how the initiative is run. The committee has also planned several benefits for members, including greatly expanded opportunities to make valuable sales contacts. “After only three SSA meetings, four introductions will have been made, two of which will likely result in transactions,” La Porta said. “Once the organization grows to critical mass, the pace of introductions is expected to accelerate.”

The committee said that the SSA would also give a whole new meaning and purpose to member participation in other ACCJ activities. “Instead of going into every networking occasion to find the few people who they might be able to sell to, SSA members are constantly on the lookout for ways to introduce fellow members to new opportunities. Every contact and every conversation suddenly become interesting—and potentially productive,” said La Porta.

The committee wants the SSA to be personally rewarding for its contributing members, in that it will provide them with a new network of known and trusted associates on whom they can rely for advice and fellowship.

Broad Benefit
While members have a lot to gain from the SSA, the connections it provides can benefit the business community as a whole. “The initiative is squarely in line with the chamber’s core objectives of promoting the interests of member companies and improving the international business environment in Japan. So, we all benefit,” said La Porta.

If you would like to experience what the SSA offers, join us at the next meeting. Although the SSA was created for Sales Development Committee members, it is open to ACCJ members and their guests through the end of the year. Meetings are held on the third Tuesday of every month at 8:00 a.m. in the ACCJ Tokyo Office Boardroom.

Aaron Baggett is a staff writer at Custom Media for The ACCJ Journal.

Photos: Embassy of the United States, Tokyo
SSA members are constantly on the lookout for ways to introduce fellow members to new opportunities.