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5 Tips to Help Exporters Choose the Right International Distributors

On: March 9, 2022    |    By: Alberto Rodriguez-Baez Alberto Rodriguez-Baez    |    6 min. read

5 Tips to Help Exporters Choose Successful International Distributors | Shipping SolutionsWhen I started my career in international business, I thought that only large companies could be successful exporters. However, after establishing successful international distributors in Latin America, Europe, Africa and the Middle East, I realized that companies of any size can succeed.

The insights, strategies and tips I shared in my previous articles are lessons and practices I learned and developed from working as an exporter and consulting for small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) all over the country. People in other countries want products from American companies, and we can bring our products to them through international distributors. 

Throughout this series, I discussed the most important aspects of successfully exporting via distributors. I covered critical how-tos, including:

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Choosing Distributors: 5 Final Tips 

Before closing this series, I’d like to highlight five best practices to keep in mind as you add international distributors to your distribution network:

1. Don’t Walk Alone

There is a plethora of agencies and resources ready to walk alongside you and help you in your journey as an exporter. Depending on the state in which you live, your business, your industry and your product, you may qualify to receive assistance from more than one agency, at little or no cost to you. 

These are some of the federal, state and industry export/trade agencies and programs available to assist exporters:

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2. Prepare, Prepare, Prepare

In my personal experience, when I’ve seen exporters fail when working with international distributors, it’s not because of the product or the company. It’s because they did not prepare to select the right distributors, train them and/or develop them for long-term success.

3. Be Ready to Walk Away

It is very tempting to sign a new distributor, even if they are not a good match, for the sake of adding more pins to the map. However, it is critical to only sign up those you see yourself working with day in and day out and walk away from distribution candidates that do not feel right or do not seem to be a good match for your company. It is better to walk away than to be stuck with a bad partner.

4. Test Your New Distributors

Many distribution candidates want to lock in long-term distribution rights and ask for five- to ten-year distribution agreements. I highly recommend starting with a two-year agreement that can be renewed for three more years if the candidate achieves his/her distribution goals.

5. Invest in Your Distributors’ Success

Your success as an exporter depends on the success of your distributors. Thus, it is critical to spend time, resources and effort to provide them with the training, tools and encouragement to succeed in the short and long term. Successful exporters don’t simply add a lot of distributors. They add the right distributors that will produce results and be part of their network for the long run.

Selling products abroad through international distributors can prove to be a treasure for your company’s growth. With the right distributors, preparation and motivation, you and your distributors can succeed together and mutually benefit your companies, your employees and your communities.

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Alberto Rodriguez-Baez

About the Author: Alberto Rodriguez-Baez

Alberto Rodriguez-Baez has spent his entire professional and academic careers in the field of international business development and marketing.

Alberto’s work experience spans from large global corporations to small businesses, private and public organizations, as well as non-profit and for-profit companies.

Alberto earned his MBA at the University of Nebraska. He is also a Certified Global Business Professional (CGBP), a CGBP trainer (the sole trainer in Texas) and a Certified Business Consultant (CBC). He is the International Marketing Manager for TBM Consulting Group.

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