Thinking about importing? Here’s how to build a relationship with overseas suppliers

(2) Having a trusting relationship is essential

Creating a relationship with suppliers, as Sinclair suggested, is key if you are to truly foster trust. Of course, this can prove challenging given barriers such as languages.

“We’d recommend broking a relationship in another market through a local specialist or at least a linguist who speaks the language,” said Sinclair. “Also, using a local UKTI branch, or approaching the UK Chamber of Commerce in the specific country or market can help leverage a partnership or assist in getting in touch with a specific person that may be key in the transaction cycle.”

Furthermore, any potential suppliers would need to be vetted to ensure there is no risk of fraud. This due diligence process should always include credit checks and a delve into history and business relationships.

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(3) Don’t put all your eggs in one basket

After you’ve found yourself a supplier, it wouldn’t hurt to have a face-to-face meeting, further ramping up the trust factor.

“What you might find works in your own culture might not necessarily work in the culture you want to do business with,” said John Mardlin, partner and executive coach at the Pinnacle Practice. “Flexible behaviour is very important, as is patience.

“Sometimes the smallest cultural acknowledgement can break the ice and help relationships start,” he explained. “Face-to-face contact is invaluable. If you aren’t able to visit on a regular basis then Skype can be the next best alternative to help strengthen relationships. This will also prevent misinterpretation, which can often happen with email or phone communication.”

However, Januzewski explained that SMEs shouldn’t merely concentrate on one supplier, He claimed that in order to mitigate the risk of business disruption through poor partner performance, back-up partners for key services/products can help – although these can take further time to develop.

An increase in UK exports has been a rare good story amid an anaemic recovery. But when picking which country to target next, SMEs need to be mindful of these hilarious banned imports.

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