My colleagues and I assist Michigan-based firms access and develop foreign markets. Truth be told though, many small or medium-sized firms were quite reluctant to consider international sales, especially when things were going so well domestically…
Economic downturn, however, has greatly enhanced our business community’s interest in international markets. In fact, I just had a conversation with a potential new-to-export firm that went something like this:
Me: “So, you have a good product here…you really should think about selling overseas.”
Potential Exporter: “Sell internationally? Don’t you have to be a major player to go international? I really need to increase sales! How do we go about it?”
At which point I assured him that almost any product is exportable, regardless of the size of the firm, and the Commercial Service can help make it happen!
Another counseling session successfully underway….
I went on to explain that the export process usually begins with an assessment of a firm’s “export readiness” where an international trade specialist sits down with the client to review the firm’s readiness to explore and implement export related activities.
Next comes the market research phase, where we identify “best prospect” markets. Commercial Service trade specialists carry out basic research, using an extensive array of trade data bases compiled and maintained by the ITA. These services are typically offered free of charge. Once basic research indicates potential export markets, our clients may choose to pursue specialized market research in order to gain more detailed market insight such as competitive presence, pricing, nature of relevant supply chains, etc. These services are typically provided for a small fee.
With this enhanced understanding of the target market, a client may wish to meet with key in-country contacts such as potential distributors, sales agents, strategic allies or joint venture partners. Through our Gold Key Service, we will identify, screen, select and set up meetings so that in a matter of days, clients may begin to forge the relationships that will be critical to future export success!
At this point, having gone through the pre-export research and planning process, you will design and implement a well thought-out international business plan and begin the cycle of planning-implementation-assessment-adjustment.
I wrapped up the conversation with an assurance that trade professionals throughout the ITA will be there to assist in the transition from export-novice to export-expert!