You want to start exporting but don’t know the best way to find international customers? These prospecting methods will open the door.
Individual and group business travel
Meeting international contacts in person is the ideal way to make your export project successful regardless if it’s via individual prospecting trips or participation in trade missions abroad. However, this prospecting method is also one of the most expensive ones. It’s essential that it be well planned. Book your flights and hotels well in advance, combine several company visits and check if you are eligible for a subsidy to prospect in other countries. It can also be worthwhile to invite foreign prospects to Brussels following a business trip. You can obtain a subsidy to invite prospects from non-European markets for this purpose.
Attend trade shows
You don’t have the time to visit all of your foreign prospects in their own country? An international trade show dedicated specifically to your business sector - which may take place closer to you - will enable you to meet many (potential) customers from around the world in record time. You can also count on financial aid from Brussels Economy and Employment to offset your costs.
Our advice: after attending a trade fair spend time actively following up on the contacts you made. This is the only way to effectively convert them into opportunities. A number of large-scale surveys show that this is still too often a weak point.
Tip: the hub.brussels export agenda includes several group business trips, trade missions, and collective trade shows which you can attend at preferential rates.
A multilingual website adapted to your target groups will increase your chances of success considerably. According to hub.brussels, the agency which helps Brussels companies to implement their export projects, about 40% of Belgian export companies are approached via this method. Potential customers can get a clear picture of your offering, sales channels, references, values and geographical presence.
Consider using your own customers as a prospecting method. Prospects will generally tend to find their references more credible than your sales pitch. Your customers are satisfied and have an international network? Try to discretely get them to promote your brand with their contacts.
Many new exporters with a limited budget specialise in (indirect) prospecting via the social networks. Today, customers want to follow the news about their favourite brands, interact with them and - in a way - contribute to their development. Anticipate this trend with a practical strategy to use the social networks.
Telephone and email
This traditional prospecting method is still favoured by many entrepreneurs because of its low cost. Electronic addresses and telephone numbers are easy to find on the Internet. On the other hand, the return on investment tends to be low. Increase your chances by being well prepared, personalising and following up on your communication.
It’s very easy to advertise on Google and the social networks. You can be sure that prospects that are looking for the products or services you provide will be directed to your website. Your advert will appear above the first search results in the list. It’s often possible to target age groups, positions, regions and other specific parameters to precisely define your group.