Last week, we had a critical look at trade leads - analysing who posts, why, how reliable and most important, how to make their best use. This week, we examine guidelines on how to respond to trade leads for better results.
- First and foremast, respond immediately, without any delay. Time is a very important factor as the deal may get closed much sooner than you expect or the buyer may loose interest in your offer (specially if he has received a dozen offers before yours)
- While writing e-mail, please use generally established conventions (e.g. no capital letter, specific subject etc.) You will find lot of useful information at e-commerce tutorial - http://www.infobanc.com/resources.htm or earlier issue of FAIDA
- Please make sure that your communication is able to inspire confidence in buyer about your ability. Make it short, concise and to the point. Provide sufficient information/ answer to buyers' inquiry, not just a 'we can do' statement. If you ask for more information, make sure you are also sharing necessary information about yourself.
- If you have already exported to clients in buyer's country or has a 'Reference' list, do not hesitate to talk about it. If you are new to export, try to develop your References. It is very useful, specially for buyers in USA and Europe.
- It is normal practice for buyers of gifts, handicrafts etc. to ask for your catalog. If you have a good-looking printed catalog, or a CD-ROM presentation, make best use of it. A professional looking web-site is more economic in many cases.
- Avoid long e-mails on your company, history, background etc. Refer to your web-site for such information. Main part of your e-mail should not exceed 10-12 lines, detail offers may be added below your signature.
- While replying to e-mails, please quote only relevant parts. Quoting complete mails, specially long and unnecessary text, is positively irritating. Many people, even in developed countries, still take print-outs of incoming mails and you can well imagine their plight and irritation.
- Never, never attach files without specific permission from buyer. Remember, file attachments are main source for virus infection. Many Internet users delete e-mails with file attachments even before reading, specially when it comes from unknown source.
- Use judicious mix of telephone and fax alongwith e-mail for serious inquiries. Please do not rest back after sending an initial e-mail. For important inquiries, follow-up with short telephone calls, gentle e-mail reminders etc. Off-line follow-up is generally appreciated by buyers.
- Generally a manufacturer/producer gets more weightage from buyer as only producer/manufacturer has better control over quality and delivery schedule. Make sure you have better control over your product procurement, quality and delivery than your competitors.
- Do not fall into the sample trap. Even if your samples are extremely inexpensive, charge courier fee for them. Do not make a habit of sending samples to anybody who asks for them. Identify the person who is making the request and make sure that this person is the one making the buying decision.
- Understand that most foreign distributors do not make fast buying decisions. It is not at all unusual for an initial order to require 9-12 months from the time of the initial solicitation depending upon the cost of the item.
- Understand the difference between selling to an end user on a one time basis and selling to a foreign distributor for future distribution. Obviously, you would want to give the distributor more consideration.
- Do not respond to requests for letters inviting a potential buyer to your country for a meeting unless you are already doing business with the company. This is sometimes used as a scam to get a visa for entry on the pretense of doing business. This type of letter is risky unless there is a significant business deal involved. In such a case, you should contact your country's foreign commercial attach\E9 in that country and see if they can make a personal visit on your behalf.
- Use some common sense. Yes you have to be polite, but that does not mean that you should spend Rs. 50,000 and a week to travel overseas to get a $600 order. Everybody would like to meet the people with whom they are doing business overseas, but that is not always practical. Do not hop onto an airplane every time some distributor sends you a very pleasant letter about how much potential business there is in his/her country.
- Do not get disappointed if there's no immediate response to your e-mail. Gently nudge buyer with telephone call, send e-mail reminders (no harm if you just forward your earlier mail) a few times before giving up. We all receive a large number of e-mails everyday and many of us forget to respond in time. Remember, developing a buyer is difficult and time consuming process. However, few good buyers can keep you busy with orders round the year.
How to find Buyers: Part I Know your Buyer
Source : FAIDA - Newsletter on Business Opportunties from India and Abroad Vol II, Issue 10; August 10' 2001
Author : Dr. Amit K. Chatterjee
( Amit worked in blue-chip Indian and MNCs for 15 years in various capacities like Research and Information Analysis, Market Development, MIS, R&D Information Systems etc. before starting his e-commerce venture in 1997. The views expressed in this columns are of his own. He may be reached at email@example.com )
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