RGX Consulting

How to conduct online business meetings with importers?

The new international scenario poses a serious challenge to traditional businesses dedicated to promoting international trade among countries. A change of paradigm is just round the corner, and this new situation is forcing businesspeople, governments and chambers of commerce to continue to drive exports, but using digital tools.

Before the current stage, a “business trip” was common practice and involved a tremendous coordination and planning work: schedules for businesspeople, business meeting agendas with interested importers, and creating links with industry business chambers, associations and other key stakeholders.
While we wait for the new normal conditions to settle down, the current challenge means offering our businesspeople an incentive to go virtual little by little.

Within this framework, online business agendas are one of the services for which RGX is receiving the greatest demand, although we have been supporting this initiative before the pandemic. For example, we have been using this modality with businesses from the Bogota Chamber of Commerce since 2017. In addition, we developed virtual business agendas in cooperation with the Government of the City of Buenos Aires for companies enrolled in the Despega Talento [Talent Take-off] program in 2018 and coordinated a B2B virtual meeting with the Export and Investment Promotion Agency of El Salvador (PROESA) in 2019.

From the lessons learned over the past 3 years, we have selected the following recommendations for the entities that would like to perform well in online business meetings:

Our first recommendation is to identify export markets where the company is in a truly good position to export. Thanks to our proprietary “Methodology to select export markets” and based on key foreign trade variables (among which at present we are including the extent to which trade borders will remain open during the COVID 19 pandemic), we can weight the countries offering easier accessibility for the sector under analysis to sell its products. This is clearly the path to follow if you would like to find international market clients and invite them to an online meeting.

Identifying the buyer profile that exporters need, determines a key step to ensure that the meetings are truly productive for both buyers and sellers. The parameters that can be used to define a “Buyer Profile” are:

  • According to products you import: it is important to have the specific tariff positions of all products for a better focus.
  • According to annual turnover levels: priority ranges can be established according to the importer’s business volume.
  • According to commercial activity: importer, distributor, wholesaler, retail, supermarket, discount store, purchasing agent, broker, among others.
  • According to the position of the negotiator: depending on the sector, exporters need to negotiate with purchasing managers, import managers, CEO, IT manager, operations manager, quality manager, among the most common.
  • According to the channel it serves: this is a recurring theme that happens to us with our client PROESA, where there is a preference of Salvadoran exporters to negotiate with North American importers that serve the Hispanic channel in the US.

Meetings will have different outcomes, and the resulting requests for information and quotations may vary. Therefore, the organizer should follow up on exporters so that they do not delay their responses to the questions and demands identified during the meetings.

In addition, a few weeks after the meetings have been held, the organizer may continue to follow-up on exporters in order to become aware of the final results and any aspects that can be improved, and detect any process errors that could avoid the wasting of future resources.

Upon completion of the round of business meetings, it is advisable for the organizer to ask exporters how they feel about the process and organization of the business meetings in order to evaluate two large dimensions separately:

  1. Meeting organization: evaluations should consider the agenda-building process, schedule coordination, connectivity, advise on internationalization, orienting the importer to the target profile, time to meeting status reports, number of meetings held, relevance of proposed leads and willingness to re-schedule meetings that may have been frustrated.

  2. Closing of export business transactions: Exporters may or may not close an agreement with the proposed leads for several reasons, including the competitiveness of the internationally tradable goods and services, the way negotiations were conducted, prices, payment terms, support to customers, and offered Incoterms. Therefore, this evaluation is based on an internal analysis of the company’s export capabilities.

Intermediate entities, chambers of commerce, governments, export agencies and organizers of international fairs are turning to online meetings between exporters and importers. RGX can offer a specialized service mainly focusing on the best balance between the return on investment in international promotion and actual export results.

Meetings will have different outcomes, and the resulting requests for information and quotations may vary. Therefore, the organizer should follow up on exporters so that they do not delay their responses to the questions and demands identified during the meetings.

In addition, a few weeks after the meetings have been held, the organizer may continue to follow-up on exporters in order to become aware of the final results and any aspects that can be improved, and detect any process errors that could avoid the wasting of future resources.

Trade Intelligence

Trade Intelligence

We specialize in research and studies in international markets, focusing on demand (importers), identifying success factors for the development of industry exports to that destination and sector.

Our reports include in-depth interviews with importers, retailers, and key informants, and are presented to the client with analysis of export opportunities.

Buyer Recruitment for B2B events

Buyer Recruitment for B2B events

Through our constantly updated databases, our expertise focuses on providing validated buyer lists, and inviting importers to participate in b2b events.

Specialized webinars

Specialized webinars

Through our constantly updated databases, our expertise focuses on providing validated buyer lists, and inviting importers to participate in b2b events.

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