How do I establish trust with foreign customers?
My target customers are foreign buyers; they buy goods from China and they find a freight forwarder who will provide freight service from China to their country. With a recent increase in competition, it is more difficult to win a customer over. How can I set myself apart and start establishing trust?
Building trust is a gradual process. The first thing for this is to learn cultural and social difference as it will be useful to understand the communication differences in order to better solve conflict situations or to facilitate negotiations.
I will not reiterate on what Elaine has said. Her feedback is comprehensive. Hat-off. I would only add that when you get your foot into the door consider the following:
1- Your first project is your chance to deliver on your promise and impress.
2- Your second project is to asset and show consistency in the processes and quality of service.
3- Your third project is your chance to build the trust. Only then the client will start to refer. (this sequence is for your services in specific)
Most of the areas are covered by members but one thing i would like to highlight is, if you observe the points closely you will identify that all these points are equally important for establishing trust with local customers as well. Isn't it?
So my point is, WORLD IS REALLY FLAT these days. You don't have to think too much about geographical limitations as long as you do the basics right. Focus on your expertise and value propositions and meet the expectations.
Only difference i can see is the TIME. It takes MORE time to establish trust with foreign customers and LESS time to loose trust when you don't deliver. But that too happens with local customers. So, on a large scale apart of time factor, for building a trust, geographical boundaries is not a significant limitation.
Any critics, questions or arguments are most welcomed.
Be prepared to go the extra mile and supply the customer with as much information as possible. The biggest resistance is not price but whether you can be trusted. Get as many references that can be contacted as you can. Start the business by dealing with reputable agents in other countries - choose from chambers of commerce or professional associations - for example I represent the Institute of Management Consultants and Master Coaches in South Africa www.imcsa.org.za. By dealing with traceable individuals and taking a smaller risk yourself, you will have a reference set of individuals who can vouch for your integrity. As long as you can meet the base price requirements, this is the most important matter to address.
You need to establish a personal relationship with your foreign client. I would suggest that you take a trip and visit your foreign clients and get to know them. Just doing business is not enough when dealing with foreign clients but if you develop a friendship then you have a chance to keep them for some time.
Search on Google and social media, try to find their reputation and read articles on different blogs, now a days world became a global village you find any type of knowledge from any where,...
Alvin, You have already received a number of really great answers that are right on point. My contribution to the discussion, then, would be to help you sort out the priority of actions so that you can ultimately be successful. Establishing trust with foreign customers mandates a personal level of trust first. The level of trust may be different for different cultures that you deal with but in the end, there is always a level of personal trust. You have that same need and for both sides, albeit to different degrees, the need for trust at a personal level is driven by each one's perception of risk.
So step one is: Build personal trust with your foreign partner. Others have already noted on how to do that (personal phone calls, direct contact and face-to-face meetings - both work and non-work related as appropriate.
Now you are building trust between each other. Beyond trust, you must uphold your agreements, your promises, your intentions. In other words, you must build confidence. Confidence is Trust by the numbers. I can trust that you will deliver on time, for example, but your delivery record gives me confidence. Confidence is the driver of trust in bigger things. Because you have been trustworthy thus far, I will trust that you will do the new thing (whatever that may be) as well.
Step two is, then: Work to build confidence between you and your foreign partner. Notice that I said "between" you and your foreign partner. You must also express your confidence or lack of it to your foreign partner so that they can correct or adjust to the situation. You must have confidence in each other for the relationship to be profitable.
However, it is not enough to build trust and confidence. You must make the relationship impenetrable to the evils of cross-border business. That might be hidden tariffs that you know about but your partner does not. Nothing like surprises to plant seeds of doubt. Begin thinking like your partner...are they as confused as you at the red tape and governmental hurdles you or they must endure? Ask them the same questions about their side of the relationship. You create an economic incentive to do business with you because of your honesty, being up-front, etc. And you should have the same expectation of your partner. Doing so makes you think about the business relationship from their perspective as well as your own.
So the third step is to be part of your partner's success in business. Be on time, be real, be honest, be up-front, but above all, be in the business.
I do note that your question almost infers "how do I sell myself?" This is a personal point that without knowing you, I would find hard to give you credible, honest advice. Others have touched on the subject so I will leave it to you to reframe the question or contact one of us directly. Good luck
Foreign customers believe in Documentation and Commitment. You cannot win them through word but through action.
Focus of time bound delivery system or compensation.. this will bring you foreign customers.
Most companies are highly competent in the technical and business aspects. They know the specifications of the product and service, conduct studies to understand the demographics of the target market and review economic data to determine pricing, positioning and strategy.
However, the most overlooked aspect of business development is the behavioral component. Most companies assume that “business is business” and that the need to profit is a universal objective without considering that while these may be true, the path taken from point A to point B may vary region to region. Especially when dealing with foreign clients or markets, businesses must respect the behavioral component and do a deep dive into the cultural nuances that influence business.
It’s not enough that you do studies, surveys and research on your market. You have to immerse yourself in the culture; mingle with the people and learn first-hand what they want or need. Big Data can be flawed and social interactions maybe harder to quantify but are more sincere. Do a test run for a month or until your budget can afford and see which options produce the best results or highest patronage.
Once you get a firm understanding of the culture, RESPECT IT and acknowledge that you cannot and should not expect to change it. How can you earn TRUST from your market if you don't respect its culture?
Contrary to popular belief, patronage of a product or service has less to do with pricing or quality. Yes, obviously these are factors to be considered; but in a perfectly competitive market what becomes the key differentiator is emotional connectivity. If your market can align itself with the purpose and vision of your product or service, it will patronize you. It is a statistical fact that 80% of consumer decisions are rooted in emotion not rationale.
Patronize your market and it will return the favor.
From our experience selling overseas, you must develop the human side firstly, build the friendship, go visit and do not ask for the business until they trust you as a person. The very best person to promote you is another user of your services, not yourself telling stories, so tell about your clients with their references.