Trade relationships between sellers and buyers do not exist in a vacuum but within an emotional context or “atmosphere.” The nature of this atmosphere becomes even more critical in the case of international trade, where interactions take place among people with different backgrounds, cultures, and expectations.
Research shows that overseas buyers provide a reliable and steady source of income for most export businesses. But the question arises, how does one find and build relationships with new buyers while sitting in a different corner of the world?
Let’s explore the answer to this:
1. Find New Buyers - Where to look?
2. Approach Buyers the Correct Way - Inform buyers about your Export Business
The fact that you are 1000 KMs away from your buyer raises the level of unfamiliarity and decreases the level of trust for both sides of the table. It becomes a necessity to not only have a good understanding of the highly volatile (changing) environmental factors surrounding international trade but also your buyer's persona.
A buyer persona can help reveal information about who your customers are and the goals they're trying to achieve. If you collect this information properly, you'll be able to filter online & attract high-quality clients who are more likely to stay and conduct business with you in the long run.
Did you know that over the next five years, online marketplaces are estimated to account for 75% of all B2B procurement spending? To that aim, let's take a look at the most popular online marketplaces and the kind of buyers you may find there based on location.
1. Name: Amazon, Region/ Country: Global, Product Category: General, Visits/Month:5.2B
2. Name: eBay, Region/ Country: Global, Product Category: General, Visits/Month: 1.7B
3. Name: Mercado Libre, Region/ Country: Latin America, Product Category: General, Visits/Month: 683.9M
4. Name: Rakuten, Region/ Country: Japan, Product Category: General, Visits/Month: 575.8M
5. Name: AliExpress, Region/ Country: Global, Product Category: General, Visits/Month: 534.4M
6. Name: Shopee, Region/ Country: Southeast Asia, Product Category: General, Visits/Month: 457.9M
7. Name: Walmart.com, Region/ Country: USA, Product Category: General, Visits/Month: 410.3M
8. Name: Etsy, Region/ Country: Global, Product Category: Arts, Crafts & Gifts, Visits/Month: 391.8M
9. Name: Taobao, Region/ Country: China, Product Category: General, Visits/Month: 329.4M
10. Name: Pinduoduo, Region/ Country: China, Product Category: General, Visits/Month: 241.5M
11. Name: Trendyol, Region/ Country: Turkey, Product Category: General, Visits/Month: 206.2M
12. Name: Allegro, Region/ Country: Poland, Product Category: General, Visits/Month: 190.2M
13. Name: Target.com, Region/ Country: USA, Product Category: General, Visits/Month: 182.2M
14. Name: Wayfair, Region/ Country: North America, Europe, Product Category: Homewares, Visits/Month: 179.1M
15. Name: JD.com, Region/ Country: China, Product Category: General, Visits/Month: 178.8M
16. Name: Flipkart, Region/ Country: India, Product Category: General, Visits/Month: 176.9M
17. Name: Wildberries, Region/ Country: Russia, Product Category: General, Visits/Month: 154.5M
18. Name: Tokopedia, Region/ Country: Indonesia, Product Category: General, Visits/Month: 140.1M
19. Name: Lazada, Region/ Country: Southeast Asia, Product Category: General, Visits/Month: 137.6M
20. Name: Zalando, Region/ Country: Europe, Product Category: Fashion, Visits/Month: 134.8M
Now that you know the marketplaces where you could research and find your ideal buyer, here's how you should reach out to them in order to start a positive trade relationship.
Keeping in mind that these buyers might not be aware of your export business, what you manufacture, your operational process, your certifications, etc., it becomes crucial to make all this information available to them in the simplest way possible.
a. Outreach through social platforms
Once you have identified buyers on B2B marketplaces that you would like to work with, look up their company profile on social platforms, chance are you'll find them on LinkedIn or Facebook.
Social platforms also give you a window to learn more about the activities of your buyers such as what posts they're liking and sharing. This prior research can help you better understand their interests and you can open conversation with a curated offering such as a customized product catalogue.
When networking on social platforms, make it a point that no conversation goes without sharing a relevant catalog of products to potential buyers. If you have a website, make sure to showcase a selection of your products in catalogs. Buyers appreciate when exporters are proactive and help them find what they're looking for faster.
b. Cold email outreach
Cold emails are a cost-effective way to reach out to potential buyers. When building your network, create an email list of potential buyers and construct an email marketing campaign for them.
You can use it as an opportunity to distribute personalized catalogs as well as corporate highlights in a concise manner. To learn how to make personalized catalogs within 5 minutes, click here.
Consistent follow-ups are essential since 60% of clients say no four times before accepting a product or service. It is also important to pace your email campaign content properly so as to not bombard your buyers or appear to sale-sy, this is where you can utilize the 80/20 rule for maximum export sales conversion.
You see, you can sell more when you stop selling, the 80/20 rule says that your 80% content should aim at educating the buyer, and 20% at selling to the buyer. You can share case studies to demonstrate how your existing buyers benefit from your products offerings & build credibility by showcasing how you've helped their competitors achieve great results.
It demonstrates your value to the new buyer and subtly requests that they take you into consideration. As an exporter, you may use this method when composing cold emails to potential buyers :
"Hey, we wanted to share some new ideas we've created for XYZ client or how we assisted XYZ client (ideally a competition) in creating a distinct collection."
To sum it up, collaboration with overseas clients can only be strengthened and extended if both parties are willing to adapt to the new environment. A fair exchange of commitments is required in trade relationships; otherwise, one of the parties would consider that it is just providing and receiving nothing in return.
When it comes to guaranteeing the long-term success of a relationship, you should be willing to make short-term sacrifices, incur expenses, or set boundaries in order to generate and enjoy mutual benefits with the other party.