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Visiting the market

Planning your business trip overseas

At an early stage in the export process it helps to go and see for yourself which market offers the best opportunities and where to focus your efforts. Having a plan in place really helps to get the most from your trip.

Determining where and when to visit

There are no fixed and fast rules about how soon to visit a market, but one thing is clear: you should always visit before entering into any agreements with prospective agents, distributors or other business partners that could influence your future dealings in that market.

The choice of market will depend on the work you have already done in researching opportunities with your Export Advisor - and possibly as a result of direct enquiries you have already received. Rather than just visiting one prospective customer or agent, however, consider calling on several to give you a basis for comparison.

Always leave the most prospective until last – when you are better prepared to handle enquiries and evaluate the fit with what you want to do. Don’t take on more than one or two markets to start with. Concentrate your effort to have a much better chance of success

Plan your trip at least six weeks in advance

Your Export Adviser will assist you plan your visit and make contact with the Austrade office, state or territory government offices and Chambers of Commerce that can assist you.

One of the best investments you can make in a successful trip is ensuring your program is planned and arranged with in-country assistance. This will help you see the right agents and customers who will be briefed and screened for interest and suitability.

In planning your visit take note of holidays and religious festivals that occur at the time of your planned visit.

Have all your paperwork in order

A checklist of things to prepare before you go appears below. Anticipate that you will be asked about price, volumes and/or capacity and delivery times. Talk with shipping agents in Australia about delivery times and costs, as well as constructing an export price. Rehearse a series of possible scenarios (given prospective workloads) with your production team before you leave. This will help you negotiate price and delivery with more certainty.

Do some background reading

First impressions are critical. If you have never visited that country before and don’t know much about it, go on the Internet and read from a range of sources. Find out something about the country and its way of life (a list of suggested websites is provided below). Reflect on how you would view someone visiting Australia to do business with you, who has no idea of life in Australia. It is best not to consider this reading as helping you to articulate a point of view about the country or enter into a debate – but rather it is to enable you to ask more informed questions – and form a better commercial judgement of the people you meet.

A visit without follow up is pointless

Time and again highly prospective business meetings come to nothing without appropriate follow up. Make sure, within 48 hours of each appointment, you send an email thanking your contact for meeting with you, providing follow up information and noting if necessary that you will get back to them within a specific time period on further particular requests. This will leave a good impression and demonstrate that you are someone with whom business can be reliably done.

We suggest you keep this list – and make it a ‘to do’ list to ensure you achieve all you can.

First steps – ideally at least six weeks before you propose to travel:

  • The first step is to check your passport. Make sure it is current. As a general rule you should have at least six months’ validity on your passport before any trip.
  • Discuss the timing of your visit with your Export Adviser. Ensure your visit program can be arranged in that time.
  • Check if you need visas. Visas can often take 2-3 weeks to arrange – particularly if you require more than one, and you need to send your passport away by post/courier with an application.
  • Book your flights and hotels. Look for hotels with good business centres and in-room Internet access. Austrade and your Export Adviser can offer suggestions.
  • Check your vaccinations are up-to-date and arrange your travel insurance.

Important websites to check:

  • Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade – www.smartraveller.gov.au
  • The website provides Top 10 Tips. Check out the recommendations and travel advisories for the countries you plan to visit. On the same website subscribe free of charge to an email alert service, providing the latest travel and consular advice on where you propose to travel.
  • Check the website of the business development department in your state or territory as well as your Chamber of Commerce. Familiarise yourself with what EFIC can offer www.efic.gov.au.
  • The Australian Government’s Export Market Development Grants (EMDG) scheme – talk to your Export Adviser about your entitlements under the EMDG scheme and what receipts you will need to keep. Make sure your company accountant is well briefed as well.
  • Austrade industry country profiles – Review the Austrade websites country profiles on the countries you propose to visit. This provides useful background information on particular countries.

Review your in-market strategy:

  • In preparing for export you will already have developed a general export strategy. Review this and perhaps add to it further for this particular market.
  • Review your unique selling proposition, ie. the distinct and appealing selling message that sets your product or service apart from its competitors. You may want to enhance it or add some specifics for this market. Discuss your concept with your Export Adviser.
  • Set down on paper exactly what you want to achieve from this visit – and if possible the individual meetings that you are scheduling.
  • Develop a series of questions you want to ask at each type of meeting. Questions could include:
    • What role your product/service would play in their business strategy
    • How do they propose to market your product/service
    • What resources would they commit to that
    • How would they support after sales service
    • Terms of payment
    • Non disclosure agreement before further discussions

Don’t be rushed into an agreement

When prospective agents/distributors see your company can offer a market advantage, they may try to rush you into signing an agreement and lock you into an arrangement. Be very careful. Agreements are hard to modify and costly to break.

If possible, delay any agreement until you have returned to Australia and have considered the proposal. Consult your Export Adviser. Match the proposed draft agreement with one that you consider best reflects your interests.

For more information, please call 13 28 78 or email info@austrade.gov.au

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Checklist 

Visiting the market

Never finalise an agreement before visiting the market.

Try to visit 2-3 prospective customers, to give you a basis for comparison.

Make sure you allow enough time to lock in a well-balanced appointment program with the right people.

Review the checklist – and ensure you have your pricing and delivery times right to be able to meet commitments.

Prepare yourself so you know something of the country and how business is done - to present as being well informed.

Be ready to send a follow up email within 48 hours, acknowledging the main points of the meeting and seeking the prospective customer/business associate’s response.

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