How do I find international buyers for goods to export? I’m trying to start an import/export business; I have close contacts with the producers. But how do I get into contacting potential buyers online?
Running an online business definitely has its appeal, but it also comes with its own set of challenges. The truth is, starting a business of any kind is hard work. While some may think of the internet as a get-rich-quick scheme, basic business principles still apply.
In reality, “online” is just a channel that connects businesses to people. It’s a powerful tool that lets you reach anyone from anywhere in the world. But creating a business with it is still about connecting the right customers with the right offering.
The strategy you need to follow depends on the categories of products you have and your targeted market. If you target any specific country, join some product-related social media groups of that country and take suggestions from the local people. Post your product details regularly at those groups to grab the attention of the potential buyers also.
- Research markets you’re considering and pick one to start with that you think will be the best fit for your products. Understand WHY your products will go well in that market so you can make a compelling offer to the buyer (I suggest a compelling offer is more than just a cheap price).
- Make sure you understand EVERYTHING you need to do to ship there in terms of logistics, regulations, costs and so on. Don’t wait until you have a meeting arranged or someone asking for a quote. This is part of understanding what your offer is.
- Find the players in that market that your products would really fit well with. Research them and how they fit into the market place. Are they big players? Middle sized? or small? There are pros and cons of each. If you’re struggling to find the right companies to approach — consider contacting industry groups or trade groups between the countries. Either way, make a well thought out and targeted list. I’m a natural food company and I’m amazed how many people send me quotes for ‘the best’ or ‘the cheapest’ make up brushes or cookies or electronics or water purifiers. Those emails are deleted with no response it’s a waste of their time and mine.
- When approaching the buyer you need to show WHY your products fit well with both the market and their company. And WHY you would be a great partner. Don’t make your introduction too long or it won’t be read, but do make it compelling. Your aim with this email is to get a conversation going, no business is going to place a big order from a cold email from another country and if they do — start getting worried about how you’re going to get paid.
- If you understand your offer and who would want that you hopefully will find someone who is at least open for a chat. If there is a big conference in your industry where you can meet, that’s great, or if you are travelling to the country they’ll often take you more seriously, however I have done plenty of business with people just ‘meeting’ over video conference but never just via email or LinkedIn alone.
- This is where you can REALLY understand what that customer’s needs are not just what you thought from your research. Think how you can fulfill those needs so you can establish joint goals and a common path. Trust and rapport take time to build but it’s never too early to start building a relationship.
- It’s from a relationship that you will get real orders. Treat the relationship well and you’ll get continued orders.
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