Trade Leads - Business In An International Market

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Billions of dollars worth of international trade is carried out every day, much of it by small businesses, importing and exporting products from and to their counterparts in other nations. As with every type of business an important task is locating people who will lead you to a signed contract – your trade leads.

Traditionally, businesses have found their international leads by attending trade shows in the target country. But this is an expensive and time-consuming way to find leads and besides, attending a show in a foreign country can be quite daunting.

Fortunately there is a great alternative to attending numerous trade shows – a substantial amount of import-export trade is now carried out online via B2B (Business To Business) trade portals.

B2B Trade Portals
These are websites that facilitate the exchange of goods and services between businesses. Our trade portal at is an example of such a site.

All kinds of products are being traded online between people from many different countries. On our portal we have members from Brazil, China, USA, Yugoslavia, Egypt Australia – every continent is represented. And the products they post are just as diverse – shoes, water coolers, gas, fibreglass insect screens, platinized anodes (whatever those are!).

Typically on an online portal you will be able to communicate with the originators of trade leads, submit details of your company and its contact details, upload images of your products and post your own trade leads.

Whilst all kinds are requirements can be posted on trade portals, including those for services, partnerships and others, the two most important types of trade leads are ‘Buy’ Leads and ‘Sell’ Leads.

Buy Leads
These are the posts you place when you have a need for a certain product.

  • Make sure you are clear about what you require
  • Describe the quantity, quality and size of the products you need
  • Mention if there are any shipping restrictions or pricing requirements
  • The more information you supply the more targeted will be the response you receive
  • Remember you are not obliged to reply to all contacts. But if someone has taken the time and effort to prepare a good proposal then it does no harm to respond

Sell Leads These are the posts you place to inform buyers of the goods you have available to sell.
  • As with the Buy Leads, the more information you give about the products the better and more targeted the response will be
  • Use an informative subject heading – if the subject doesn't seem to apply to a buyer they won't be bothered to read your lead
  • You are dealing with an international market so use clear simple language – no jargon, no exaggeration, no hype
  • Respond promptly to all reasonable enquiries
  • If the facility exists on the portal to mention your company use it to establish your credibility

Without a doubt many conmen and charlatans frequent online trade portals but there are steps you can take to protect yourself from such people:
  • Don’t respond to any suspicious contact or any that is obviously spam – if you show you are willing to listen they will do everything they can to take advantage
  • Once you've made contact with a potential buyer or supplier, check out their credentials, convince yourself they are a respectable business:
    • Take a look at their company website
    • Find out who they've done business with in the past
    • Ask if they have past clients from your own country
    • Investigate their credit worthiness
  • Use a Letter of Credit (L/C) – this is issued by a bank and guarantees payment to the Seller when all the terms and conditions of the trade are met. It protects both the Buyer and the Seller
    • The Buyer will only part with money if the terms and conditions are met
    • The Seller will always get his money if the terms and conditions are met

There’s a lot of money to be made in import-export and you don't have to travel far to make it. Whether you’re looking for novel foreign goods to sell in your country or there’s greater profit to be had selling your products overseas, you can find all the prospects you need simply by visiting an online trade portal.

Rob Henderson, is an independent company that provides information and solutions for importers, exporters, trading companies, trading consultants and others involved in international trade. For more information and to register on the trade portal visit


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