By Amit Kumar
Perhaps the most daunting challenge any budding exporter faces is to find buyers for his/her products. Selling in international market has never been simple - with diverse language, geographical distance, cultural difference and lack of market knowledge posing real challenge to any manufacturer/ exporter.
However, given right homework and planning, selling in overseas market today is easier, simpler and less expensive than it was a decade ago. There are many silver linings in the forms of positive Govt Policy, favourable international climate, less tariff and non-tariff barriers and above all easy and inexpensive access to an incredibly powerful and all-encompassing medium like Internet.
Never before in the history of human civilization so many people from so vastly different places and societies freely interacted with each other as we witness today in Internet. So, how do today's exporters take advantage of this favourable business climate and become successful ? The answer lies in thoughtful planning, effective implementation and perseverance. In fact, large number of exporters have used these advantages successfully as reflected in unprecedented export growth witnessed over last 10 years.
How To Find Buyers?
To put it simply, there are only two ways you can find buyers of your products - either you find the buyer or buyer finds you. Your sales strategy must take into account both the factors and plan for effective use of both sources. Some of the ways to locate buyers are:
Searching directories, trade literature etc.
Using buyer-seller meets organized by trade associations
Conducting Market Research
Employing Commercial Agent/ Representatives
Subscribing to information services etc.
Some of the ways of attracting buyers are:
Promotion (e.g. direct mail)
Search Engine Marketing, etc.
How Important is the Internet in your Marketing Strategy?
10 years ago - buying agents and trade shows were the two most popular avenues for selling in international markets. Participation in overseas trade shows was, and still is, prohibitively expensive for most small and medium exporters. Internet has not only made available new avenues for sellers, it has also drastically changed distribution pattern. Today, conventional distribution channel of seller to large importer to distributor to local stockiest to retailer is severely disrupted as small retailers from USA and Europe regularly visit foreign web-sites and order directly. This is a win-win situation as both buyer and seller stand to gain substantially by transacting directly without middlemen. It does add to business risks but profit margins also become very impressive by going direct. In coming years, we shall see more and more buyers coming through the Internet route. To be successful - you should be able to make best use of this opportunity that was not available to your predecessors even 10 years back.