We know that there is more business happening outside of the US and across the globe than what is taking place inside the US, making international business an excellent opportunity for high impact. While it is essential to find international buyers to sell your products, what is often not parsed out is how to keep your international buyers and build relationships and trust for longstanding business that is mutually beneficial.
Before you go out to find international buyers, it is a good idea to assess why you need them. Many international buyers report that US companies often drop their international buyers when domestic business improves. This is not a good practice for creating ongoing and diversified business.
There are plenty of opportunities to find international buyers out there, with many programs, tradeshows, marketing, eCommerce, and hands-on approaches.
Here are some resources for finding an international buyer:
- NDTO Market Research Assistance
- NDTO Trade Missions/Reverse Trade Missions
- Rural Export Center’s RAISE Program
- US Commercial Service Programs
- International Tradeshows and Buyers Programs
- International Marketing Campaigns
- Foreign representatives
But once you find the right buyer, how do you keep them?
These past few years have been a challenge globally for so many with ongoing pandemic issues, wars, geopolitics, and major weather disasters that can impact international relationships. So, once you have found international buyers, here are a few tips to consider to maintain relationships and flexibility, and continue your work globally.
Find ways to be flexible. Maybe it is in the supply chain – if fuel prices go down, pass along the savings for both you and the buyer. They can pass this down the chain, and the mutual savings will reflect kindly on your relations when and if things get more difficult in the future.
Consider longer payment terms for well-established buyers. This is where strong relationships come in, as well as tools, such as EXIM bank or Trade Credit Insurance and other similar entities, may be able to assist. Longer payment terms allow for more flexibility, but may also involve greater risk.
Consider the dollar. A previous article, How the Strong Dollar Impacts the Exporter talks about the impact of a strong or weak dollar. Make sure that you are willing and able to maintain business on either side. Buyers will remember those who make it work and those that don’t. Maybe even offer a discount for larger quantities which may save on replenishment and multiple shipments. You also get the benefit of a larger order and potentially save on a larger quantity of supplies needed for the bigger order.
Take the buyer’s culture into account. Something often overlooked in international business is taking the time to understand how your buyers think or conduct business. While some cultures are more transactional or look for the best deal, others are very relationship based. Knowing the difference and adapting your approach to each scenario will lend you greater success. Often there are subtle messages buyers send that, if only listened to (or seen), could save a lot of time and effort for everyone.
Seeing buyers as partners and not only as a buyer. When they succeed or have a positive experience, it is more likely that you will also succeed and have a good experience. Keeping in mind that everyone is looking for the best and most smooth path forward is a good way to find common ground.
While this is just scratching the surface on ways to improve and maintain relationships with your international buyers. Hopefully, some of these strategies will strike up ideas or conversations on how you can maintain and expand your global business.
Questions? Feel free to connect with NDTO and our team of global experts.