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Get in touch with our export advisers. They could be your greatest asset to help you understand the practicalities of doing business abroad and make the most of support services available to you.

Isabelle Henderson, export adviser
Export adviser, Isabelle Henderson

If you’re thinking about doing business overseas, you may have some burning questions to ask – and the chances are you are not alone.  Export adviser Isabelle Henderson shares the questions she is asked most frequently by new exporters. 

'We’ve had an export enquiry and I don’t know how to handle it. Please can you help?'

The first thing I’d do is encourage the company to speak to the potential customer about their order. Then I’d want them to find out who the potential customer is – is it an end-user, a retailer or a distributor? 

Then I’d suggest they ask which currency they want the quote in and how they usually pay.  

This is the starting point of what you need to know to be able to prepare a quote. I then advise the company to ask many more questions.  I have a checklist of questions that I provide companies to ask potential customers to help with this. 

The checklist is to ensure that all the important aspects have been properly thought through. Going through the process highlights all the areas where we can help.

Export checklist

My export checklist for companies includes:

Your potential customer

  • What is their reach in the market? (Do they cover a certain territory or area in a country?)
  • Who are their customers? How many of these are regular customers with repeat business?
  • How large would their first order be?  

The market

  • Which products will be successful in their market? (colour, size, design, etc.)
  • Are they aware of any certification required to sell the goods in their country?
  • What are the labelling requirements in their country? Do they have to be translated?

International pricing and costs

  • What is their mark up/profit? Have you thought about your international pricing and how to factor in all costs i.e. shipping, duty, etc. to make a profit?   
  • Where is their warehouse based? Would the goods be delivered there? (Meaning: they want a price to include delivery)
  • What would be the retail price in their market?
  • If you use an agent, what commission will they require?
  • Distributors: how much would they sell your product or service to their customers?

If this is a company’s first international sale an option could be cash in advance. I will also advise them about everything that should appear on the quotation.

'How can I sell abroad if I don’t speak the language or know the culture?'

You are more likely to be successful selling abroad if you seek partners. Whether you speak the language or know the country, it helps to have a partner. 

If it’s a product, most of the time, it’s a distributor or an agent that a business needs. If it’s software, it’s a reseller. If it’s a service you’ll need a partner. Basically, whatever you’re doing it will help to identify a partner and you’ll need to spend time identifying the right partner to suit your business needs. 

'So how can I find the right partner?'

Once you have identified the type of partner you need to sell into a market, via Scottish Enterprise’s research service you can potentially access a list of distributors or potential customers. You can also potentially request credit checks if you need further background on a partner.  

'Can we speak to companies in the same sector who are already trading overseas?'

I would advise businesses to attend as many Scottish Enterprise events as possible to meet with as many businesses as possible. Our events provide excellent opportunities to network with your peers. 

'I don’t know what to put on my product’s label. Can you help?' 

Yes. Our technical experts can identify all the requirements to export any goods or services to anywhere in the world. We can advise about the kinds of certification or registration which is necessary, as well as everything that should appear on the label for that market. 

'What kind of help can I receive from Scottish Enterprise?'

You'll be able to meet with an export adviser (who are all experienced export managers), to take you by the hand, one step at a time on selling internationally.     

In addition to one-to-one support, companies can attend workshops to help prepare them for export, or develop their international sales online, they can also receive help with market research or access our technical support. 

We work with businesses like yours to help them get started and work with them all the way through to the sale. Our services are geared to getting you as well prepared as possible to taking those first successful steps to selling internationally.

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