Thursday, 10 October 2013

The end of the trade fair isn't the end of the story...

Anuga, the world’s largest and most important food and beverage fair, has just closed its doors in Cologne. Many British companies exhibit at the fair as Germany is the biggest market in Europe and cracking the German market is a key export target.  It is usually a long, drawn-out process - in my experience, companies need at least three years and to exhibit several times before they can truly say they are established.  But with a targeted follow-up, you may be able to speed up this process...

So you have spend five, very long, very expensive days in Cologne.  You have had some interesting and promising conversations with potential customers, agents and distributors.  But now the hard work starts - converting leads into concrete business relationships.

Naturally, if you have promised a stand visitor something - a product sample, a catalogue or a quotation - you need to action these immediately.  If you did not agree a next step, I suggest you email your contacts within a week to thank them for their time at the fair and suggest a course of action;
  • for customers, you should highlight your best selling products, explain why they are so popular and ask for a telephone appointment / face to face meeting to discuss your product range further,
  • for agents or distributors, you should ask them to evaluate your products for the German market (a bit of free advice always comes in handy), find out what they already selling and explain how your products can compliment their existing range.

Whilst warming up your leads, if you have not already done so, consider;
  • investing in a German speaking employee (or get some outside help),
  • getting some cross-cultural training,
  • translating the pertinent pages of your website into German,
  • having a Euro price list,
  • checking out packaging regulations and labelling requirements.

These measures will help show your commitment to the German market, remove some of the barriers to entry and, once you have received your first order, you can act quickly and have everything in place so as not to delay delivery.

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