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Alex Dalton, Managing Director of woodworking machinery specialists Daltons Wadkin, shares his top tips on finalising an export deal.

So, you have a serious product enquiry from overseas, or even a request for a price quotation. Now what? As a business, you don’t want to lose this hot lead but how should you follow through and make it happen?

In this post, I’ll offer some advice to help you choose safe, prompt and cost-effective transportation, work with a freight forwarder to prepare your final quotation, and arrive at an appropriate price.

You might think it goes without saying but, before anything else, you should make sure your product is suitable for sale outside domestic markets. You’d be surprised how many sales fall through after realising the logistics of exportation to the country in question isn’t as easy or cost effective as anticipated.

Don’t make life hard for yourself, consult and seek guidance from local government market experts, and make sure you gain insight from prospective customers, wholesalers, agents and embassies. You need an all-round view and understanding before progressing with an export deal, especially if it’s your first time.

First thing’s first, you need to sort your finances. Talk to your accountant and bank manager as soon as you can to discuss your options. Review the extra finance you may need to fund your move overseas. Pricing a product for the overseas market and presenting them in quotation form are crucial steps in completing an international sale.

It’s important to take a long-term view. This includes being realistic about the time it will take you to get established and make a profit. Factor this into your planning, so you have the resources you need to keep going.

Next up, it’s vital to organise the right transport options. Exporting basically involves moving goods from one country to another. It’s extra important to find a company that offers safe, reliable, quick and cost-effective transport services.

As a business exporting goods, you’re a customer too, so demand the transportation service you use is cost-effective and efficient. You’ll need the right transport to get your product where it needs to be and do so on time. Most companies use specialist freight forwarders to handle transport.

It’s good to look for someone who regularly exports to your target destination. This offers you the chance to consolidate your goods with other consignments in a single container, to reduce costs.

In all instances, your goods will need the appropriate packaging and labelling for transportation. For this, seek advice from a label supplier, who can properly assess your business needs.

Crucially, if you work with a supplier, you need to clarify in advance who will be responsible for organising UK customs procedures, freight, insurance and customs clearance in your target market.

How fast the shipment is needed and how much you’re willing to spend will determine which method (air or sea) of transportation you should use. It’s vital to shop around and compare rates and get the best available transportation package for your customer. Don’t be shy about questioning a transportation company at length about their service and rates. You should ask the freight forwarder questions relating to the quantity, value and perishability of your product and your customer’s location.

Always enquire about the latest and most advanced methods for moving goods overseas. Staying up-to-date with the transportation industry will help you offer your customers the most innovative and cost-effective service and equipment options. As you move on to put together a price quotation for your customer, make the sale and deliver the goods, you’ll see how valuable a good global freight forwarder can be.

Don’t forget to make sure you or your importer insures your goods too. It’s also important to learn from your exporting experiences. Make sure the relationships you build continue to provide value. As required, adapt your product/service and marketing to your new market. Continually develop your service offering by recognising what works. Look at what your competitors and others are doing and, if appropriate, copy it.

Finally, remember that satisfied customers will be your biggest and loudest advocates. Work with them to raise your profile and build relationships through recommendations, offers, newsletters and other methods.

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