9 Ways to Find and Cultivate Overseas Customers

Without Customers, There Is No Business -- and No Money!

You can't run a successful import/export business unless you have customers, but where do you find them? Whether you sell wine or wallets, it's easier than you think. Let's take a look at nine ways to find and cultivate overseas customers.

  1. Review "10 Insanely Great Websites to Help You Build an Import/Export Business." It's a great place to discover lots of online resources and determine which is best suited to your particular needs. And for women executives, entrepreneurs and business owners, there's a bonus resource mentioned at the end!
  1. Read "Exporting: The Definitive Guide to Selling Abroad Profitability." Chapter 16 covers Finding Cross Border Customers, from defining them to making customer contact to other ways to snag customers worldwide. (Full disclosure: I am the author of this book.) 
  2. There are three ways to take charge and find international customers: purchase a service, exhibit at trade shows and build an online presence to market your business. Read "How to Find and Market to International Customers."
  3. The PIERS Directory of U.S. Importers and PIERS Directory of U.S. Exporters helps you identify thousands of companies involved in global trade. And there are other companies who provide similar services. 
  4. Try out The Gold Key Service: How to Find Customers the World Over.
  5. Ask bankers, accountants, freight forwarders, transportation professionals and supply chain managers for tips and referrals as to who might be an ideal target customer for you.
  1. Network with peers in your industry. If you sell consumer packaged goods like soft drinks, toiletries or processed foods, attend workshops, conferences and seminars revolving around this type of product for export. Listen attentively, but be prepared to ask a lot of questions, too.  
  2. Don't forget to create a brand awareness when you find customers. How else will you be discovered? 
  1. Keep your customers. Make them your No. 1 priority! Focus on the Rolling Stone's song, "I can't get no satisfaction," because you definitely don't want your customers thinking that way! You can deliver the right product, the right service, the right price – but do you deliver satisfaction? The only way to find out is to follow up and ask flat out, "Are you satisfied with my product or service?" And if the answer is "no," you'd better have a plan. These five ways to satisfy your overseas customer will pave the way for directions you can take to get satisfaction right.

And one more important detail: When you find and cultivate overseas customers, figure out how you're going to get paid by them. It's not uncommon to use a third party go-between in international trade, such as an ​escrow service. The service collects the money for you and holds onto it until you deliver on your end of the deal. 

By reviewing and tapping into all these resources, you'll be running a profitable import/export business in record time! 

Photo Credit: BC Gov Photos