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
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
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� 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.
- Newsletter on Business Opportunties from India and Abroad
Vol II, Issue 10; August 10' 2001
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