Exporting Basics: Finding Buyers and Distributors
How can I evaluate prospective agents and distributors?
Choosing the right overseas agents or distributors is crucial. You’re relying on them to bring you sales. If they prove to be poor performers, you could be stuck with them indefinitely. In some countries, you can’t easily terminate an agent/distributor relationship. Therefore, you want evaluate prospects carefully and select the ones that will perform best for you. A Distributor Qualifications Checklist can help you pinpoint the key issues for you. Look for these five qualities in particular:
• Experience – Who has a solid track record as an agent or distributor; expertise in your product area; and strong connections in the user community?
• Capabilities -- Who can market and support your products in the way you require (e.g., promote, stock, train users, install and service equipment, etc.)?
• Motivation – Who is enthusiastic about your product; able and willing to give it priority; and not so overloaded that you would get short shrift even with good intentions?
• Loyalty -- Who would not jump to a competitor or carry a competing line?
• Honesty – Who has a good reputation in the industry and has positive bank and trade references.
To find out who has the “right stuff,” you’ll need background information on each prospect, at least on the points below.
• Current status and history, including background on principal officers.
• Personnel and other resources (salespeople, warehouse and service facilities, etc.).
• Sales territory covered.
• Current sales volume.
• Typical customer profiles.
• Names and addresses of U.S. and foreign firms currently represented.
• Trade and bank references.
• Capability to meet your special requirements.
• Opinion on the market potential for your products.
Your local Pennsylvania Regional Export Network (REN) Partner will be happy to assist you in the evaluation of potential trading partners either through background checks or arranging for in-country visits (or both). Contact you REN Partner via the contact us tab on the home page.
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