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If you have decided to expand your business into a foreign market, you will have to carefully consider the choice of an overseas agent or distributor. You will need someone who can function independently on your behalf as a reliable new team member. Use the resources available to you to increase your chances of finding a responsible overseas associate who can assist you in unfamiliar territory.
Update your business plan to reflect your company’s expansion into foreign markets. Describe the duties of your proposed agent or distributor. Agents typically assist with marketing in specific foreign locales, potentially acting as liaison with the host government. Foreign distributors purchase goods from suppliers for resale in their territories.
Get help from your bank. Contact your bank’s international department and meet with someone who can provide assistance. If your bankers do not have a list of qualified agents and distributors, they may be able to introduce you to their overseas branch in your target market. If the bank does not have a branch there, it can introduce you to its correspondent in that country. Correspondent banks have close relationships and provide services for each other in the normal course of business. Introductions for business customers are traditional correspondent services.
Contact a commercial officer in the U.S. Embassy in your target country. Explain that you will be traveling to the country for the purpose of selecting an agent or distributor. Your conversations with Foreign Service personnel at the embassy should yield useful names.
Call the target country’s embassy in the United States. Report your plans for expanding your business to their country. Ask about contact information for agents and distributors.
Conduct a thorough Internet search for agents and distributors who are active in your target market. You may find new names or gain information about names that you already have.
Travel to the target country for the purpose of meeting with the most appropriate individuals among the names that you have gathered. You will probably also want to meet with local bankers and U.S. Embassy personnel. Learn as much as you can about your leading candidates. Visit their offices. At this point, you should be close to signing an agreement.
Your attorneys will be able to introduce you to local counsel in your target country for the purposes of signing an agreement with an agent or a distributor.
- Your attorneys will be able to introduce you to local counsel in your target country for the purposes of signing an agreement with an agent or a distributor.
Charles Crawford, a former commercial banker, has been a business writer in New York since 1990. He has produced marketing materials for an executive outplacement firm, written the quarterly newsletter of a medical nonprofit organization and created financing proposals/business plans. Crawford holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and a Master of Science in international affairs from Florida State University.