Practical advice from an entrepreneur who’s been round the world and back.
World trade relies on making good deals, and trade missions are a big part of that process. For many businesses, access into foreign markets is a hurdle, but participating in a state or federal trade mission will give you plenty of opportunities to meet with government officials and high-level representatives in companies you want to do business with.
If you’re just breaking into the world of exporting, a trade mission might be just the thing you need. It’s worked for Wheeling Truck Center, a family owned company that sells Volvo trucks and parts and offers repair services, truck rentals and vehicle leasing. The company has attended 25 state and federal trade missions and has been selling heavy duty truck parts on the international market since 2010.
Chad Remp, owner of Wheeling Truck Center, said the company now does business in 115 countries. As a veteran of trade missions, he’s offering these 3 tips for utilizing trade missions to grow your business.
Have a plan and do your research
The most successful businesses aren’t necessarily built on the best product or service. Many times, having a plan and having the discipline to execute on that plan is what determines success. Even more so when you’re breaking into a whole new market.
“If you do not have a plan on how you can sell internationally, do not participate in a trade mission,” Remp said. “And you need to do your research in advance.”
This involves asking questions, such as:
Can you realistically export your product or service? And do you have the resources to expand into international markets?
“The application process will help determine if you are ready to sell internationally,” Remp said. “And if you’re not prepared yet, there are many resources in the state that can help train your company how to export and help you prepare for success.”
Start marketing your business before you go
Does your company already export and have a business plan for selling internationally? You’ll likely benefit from attending a trade mission. But to get the most out of your time there, you’ll want to start advertising your company’s services and products and generate leads before you go.
“We market in the country in advance,” Remp said. “We will utilize Google AdWords and Facebook to try and generate leads to help us build a busy schedule of meetings with well-qualified companies.”
Part of marketing is also having plenty of material to hand out to potential customers.
“We will have business cards printed in the country’s foreign language, and our presentation or other marketing materials translated,” Remp said.
Being accommodating by having accessible information about your company makes a good first impression.
Follow up after the trip
Rarely is a business deal made on the spot, even if you are the best salesperson. That’s why you have to follow up with the people you meet on the trade mission.
“When you get back into the office, you’ll be extremely busy getting caught up with all of the work you missed while you were out of the office,” Remp said. “Don’t waste your money on the trip if you can’t follow up with the customer’s or prospects after.”
Remp says your work on closing a deal has only begun when you return home and that it can take years of following up and communication to see results.
Discuss Exporting with our Experts
Spots for upcoming trade missions are available but limited. If you’re ready to compete on the international market, apply today or get in touch with our friendly and knowledgeable staff.