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Develop Trade Contacts/Leads

Exporters cannot survive on unsolicited business. They must aggressively seek and pursue potential customers -- buyers and distributors alike. Finding the “right” buyers, agents or distributors for each market is crucial. You need good overseas business partners to generate ongoing sales. Agent/distributor selection is especially important. A poor rep could seriously hamper you in possibly lucrative markets, perhaps indefinitely in countries that impede termination of agent/distributor agreements. Therefore, you want to choose carefully.

The Internet is an exploding source of trade contacts and specific trade leads. Here are techniques for finding interested and qualified buyers and distributors.

Trade Contact Lists -- Lists of key industry contacts by country can be found in Industry Subsector Analyses - Key Contacts section. These often include individual importers and distributors relevant to the particular industry, as well as government organizations, publications, and associations. Specialized global and country-specific directories offer selective searching to identify potential foreign buyers, and distributors including:

  • BuyUSA International Companies
  • International Corporate Information
  • Canadian Importers Database
  • Company Profiles (worldwide)
  • Canadian Company Capabilities
  • Central America: IPL Trade Directory
  • Coface
  • Europages
  • Asian Sources
  • Companies of Africa
  • Arab World Online Commercial Directory

Specific Trade Opportunities -- Clearly, the best leads are the first-hand leads you uncover on foreign business trips or that your overseas reps find for you. While better, these leads are also more costly to develop. If you don't have overseas reps, or can't afford overseas sales trips, give the "second-hand" leads a try. They're often solid and substantial. However, since your competitors can learn about them too, you want to follow up quickly on these leads. Good trade lead sources include:

  • Trade Opportunity Program
  • FAS Agricultural Trade Leads
  • UN Electronic Trade Opportunity ETO Leads
  • Trade Leads (Commercial News USA)
  • USAID Procurements
  • Global Technology Network (GTN)

Major Project Opportunities -- Some of the best leads are for development projects still in the planning stage. These future projects offer opportunities for equipment, supplies and services of all kinds. They often have foreign government backing and assured financing from international development banks. You can find advance notice of proposed projects in:

  • Global Infrastructure Projects Database
  • World Bank International Business Opportunities
  • African Development Bank Business Opportunities
  • Asian Development Bank Business Opportunities
  • European Bank's Procurement Opportunities
  • Inter-American Development Bank Projects
  • North American Development Bank Information
 
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