STOP AND READ!!!
Below is the 1998 version of A Basic Guide to Exporting.
The current edition (2008) is CURRENTLY IN STOCK and available for purchase at http://unzco.com
Changes in the export industry have occurred in the last decade and are not reflected in the content below.
|Many successful exporters first started selling internationally by responding to an inquiry from a foreign firm. Thousands of U.S. firms receive such requests annually, but most firms do not become successful exporters. Generally, successful firms: properly respond to inquiries; conduct research on foreign customers; differentiate between domestic and international sales; build positive relationships with partners.
Responding to Inquiries
Most but not all, foreign letters of inquiry are in English. A firm may look to certain service providers (such as banks or freight forwarders) for assistance in translating a letter of inquiry in a foreign language. Colleges and universities are also an excellent source for translation. Most large cities have commercial translators who are hired on a fee-basis.
Typically, a foreign firm will request product specifications, information, and price. Some inquiries will come directly from the end user, while other inquiries will come from distributors and agents who wish to sell the product in their market. A few foreign firms may already be familiar with the product and wish to immediately place an order.
Regardless of the form such inquiries take, a firm should establish a policy to deal with them. Here are a few suggestions:
Learning about Potential Clients
There are many ways for a U.S. firm to research a foreign company before conducting any formal business. A U.S. company can save time and money by conducting basic research. These methods include:
Business Practices in International Selling
Companies should be aware of basic business practices that are paramount to successful international selling. Because cultures vary, there is no single code by which to conduct business. These practices transcend culture barriers and will help the U.S. company conduct business overseas.
Building a Working RelationshipOnce a relationship has been established with an overseas customer, representative, or distributor, it is important that the exporter work on building and maintaining that relationship. Common courtesy should dictate business activity. By following the points outlined in this chapter, a U.S. firm can present itself well. Beyond these points, the exporter should keep in mind that a foreign contact should be treated and served as well as a domestic contact. For example, the U.S. company should keep customers and contacts notified of all changes, including price, personnel, address, and phone numbers.
Because of distance, a contact can "age" quickly and cease to be useful unless communication is maintained. For many companies, monthly or quarterly visits should be made to customers or distributors. This commitment to the business relationship, although not absolutely necessary, ensures that both the company and the product maintain high visibility in the marketplace. If the U.S. exporting firm cannot afford such frequent travel, it may use fax, e-mail, and telephone to keep the working relationship active and up to date.
Unz & Co. "Basic Guide to Exporting" © 1998-9 ***NOT THE CURRENT EDITION!!!