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Exporting the Shot Show.

In a short twelve years the SHOT Show has become the single most important meeting place for international buyers in the shooting and outdoor sports business. Nearly 1500 international buyers attended the 1990 SHOT SHOW in Las Vegas. These buyers represented sixty countries around the world. In Dallas, show organizers are anticipating an even larger contingent of international buyers.

You may be doing business with some of the companies now; either directly, through American distributors, or through their own U.S. divisions. The SHOT Show is your opportunity to expand your international customer base or begin your international sales effort.

Who are these international buyers, what can you do to attract them to your booth and what should you do when they visit your show booth?

Who Are These International Buyers?

About one third of the foreign buyers come from our closest trading partner, Canada. The new free trade agreement between the United States and Canada will facilitate quicker, easier, and less expensive trade. Outdoor activities are an important aspect of the Canadian lifestyle. Prior to the free trade agreement, heavy duties limited American manufacturer's ability to take advantage of this opportunity. The 1990 SHOT Show should lead to increased sales to Canada. An increased number of Canadian buyers will make the trip to Dallas to take advantage of these opportunities.

Another third of the buyers come from Europe. With the growing success of the IWA show in Nuremburg, West Germany and the growing number of American companies exhibiting at the IWA show, the aggressive international retailers and distributors are coming to the SHOT SHOW to get a two month jump on their competitors overseas. As a general rule, the European buyers attending the SHOT Show fall into three categories; established distributors, emerging distributors, and large retailers.

The remainder of the attendees come from diverse places such as Japan, Korea, Australia, Colombia, Brazil, Turkey, Egypt, and Pakistan.

Upon first meeting these buyers, one can never be sure if they are working with a major distributor, dealer, or an agent. Some of the large dealers can make major buys and major commitments that look very large to a manufacturer not currently doing business within a country. Others may talk as if they are very large yet they only have a small shop in a small town. Still others may act and seem small, yet they represent major distributors ... as large as any distributors in the states.

What Happens When an International Customer Visits Your Booth?

Attracting international buyers to your booth is the first step in having an effective international SHOT Show. Simple items such as signs saying "Foreign Distributors Wanted" attract their attention. Quality sales materials, attractive booth layouts, and professional appearing personnel also help in drawing the attention of foreign buyers.

International buyers travel long distances at great expense. They may believe that this is their only opportunity to see or speak with a representative of your company. Fortunately, you do not have to worry about translations. Most international buyers speak English, if they do not, they will have someone with them who does. Following are some general guidelines of etiquette to be followed when greeting potential international customers at your SHOT Show booth.

* They are accustomed to international shows where people make appointments and sit down for uninterrupted meetings. Try to meet at a time when you can minimize interruptions.

* Shake hands and exchange business cards.

* Introduce them to the upper echelon in the organization.

* Listen carefully and ask them to repeat if their accent is too hard to understand.

* Speak slowly and carefully.

* Offer coffee or sodas if you have them in your booth.

* Try to give them as much time as you can. They are busy too, and they may have many other appointments set up. It is important to realize that they will only take up your time if they are interested in buying.

The international buyer at the SHOT Show will be making major annual buying decisions for his firm. There will be specific questions he wants answered to assist him in making these decisions. The better prepared you are to answer these questions the more likely you will be to land the order. Above all, give him all the sales materials he requests: if he is interested enough to carry the materials back on the plane he is likely interested in your products. The following information requests are routinely asked for by international buyers.

INFORMATION! As much product information as possible. What makes your product better, unique, different? Why the price differential between your product and your competitor's? What do they need to know to order and sell your product?

* Can you deliver?

* What are your minimum order quantities?

* Can I place a sample order?

* Do you export now? What are your export terms and conditions? Do you give exclusives? Do you have an export price list?

* What are your international warranty policies?

Your international visitors will also be asking for certain special treatment that you should carefully consider. Many of these requests are very innocent and sincere. Others are designed to take advantage of your excitement over having potential international business.

The first and foremost request from international customers is "CAN WE HAVE THE EXCLUSIVE FOR OUR TERRITORY?" In international business, exclusives are a way of life. Your distributor will likely be your entire visibility within a country; advertising, promoting, and selling your product. He does not want to be undercut by another importer taking advantage of his effort. I agree with giving exclusives. But, NEVER GIVE EXCLUSIVES AT TRADE SHOWS. Wait until you return to your office, learn more about your new customer, and check his references before giving an exclusive. I know of too many companies that have given exclusives at trade shows and have been stuck with undesirable trading partners.

A second set of common questions are; "Can we have your best prices? Can we have open terms? Are these prices F.O.B. our facility?" Think carefully about your international pricing (In dollars only!) and terms before making any commitments. Be prepared for these questions.

Your international visitors will also be asking for samples, promotional materials and large quantities of catalogs. Again it is best to prepare your decisions on these questions in advance. Generally, catalogs and promotional materials will be needed in quantities. Samples should be handled in a manner conducive to your internal policies, be prepared to be flexible.

Before the foreign buyer leaves your booth, ask him which U.S. companies currently sell to him. Also try to find out who his contacts are at the factory. You can use these contacts to find out more about the foreign buyer. When your customer leaves your booth thank him for coming by, find out when he will return to his office, and promise to be in touch within a week of his return. Ask if there is anything else he needs from you before he heads back home. Shake his hand and try to demonstrate to him that you are genuinely interested in his business.

When You Return to the Office contact the foreign visitor within a week of his return to thank him for visiting your booth. Ask if there is any additional information you can provide or if he needs any assistance in placing an order. Begin to discuss and finalize your international terms and conditions with the customer. Start building the relationship with what you hope will be a long term trading partner. Make it clear that you are only interested in long term business relationships.

Begin checking the references of other U.S. companies he is buying from. Do not only ask about his payment record, ask how his efforts have helped sales. How long has he been a trading partner? Is he easy or difficult to work with? Does he promote the product? Does he give good service? What is his order history? The answers to these questions will give you a start on determining if you should give this customer an exclusive. Begin developing a profile of your ideal foreign trading partner.

If he has placed an order, send him a proforma invoice immediately. Also provide him with instructions on how to pay the order and when you will ship. Ask if he has any preferences on shippers. Be honest and sincere about delivery dates; remember, you are trying to build a long term relationship.

There are several sources of additional information on exporting available to anyone interested in pursuing international opportunities arising from SHOT Show contacts. About eight different Export Management Companies specializing in shooting, hunting and outdoor sports will be walking around the show. Most of them will be very happy to assist you on a one time or ongoing basis. You can also seek out other manufacturers currently active in exporting. A third source would be your local office of the Department of Commerce. They provide free counseling and low cost services to assist U.S. exporters. They have offices in most large American cities.

The SHOT Show is the single most important event for most manufacturers in establishing their international business. Buyers will be flying into Dallas from all over the world. Be prepared for them. Use some of the tactics mentioned here to enhance your effectiveness with foreign buyers. There will be over 1500 international shooting and outdoor sports buyers in Dallas; be one of the manufacturers to take full advantage of this sales opportunity.

Leslie H. Whitney, M.B.A.

Mi-. Whitney has been actively involved in international sales and and marketing within the shooting and hunting industry for the past seven years. He is a partner in Globcon International, an Export Management Company located in Poway, California, specializing in foreign shooting, hunting, police and military markets. He is president of the World Trade Association of San Diego and a member of the San Diego District Export Council.


Glossary of Terms

Exclusives - These are agreements between the manufacturer and the importer giving the importer the rights to market the product within a territory without the risk of a second importer competing with the same product from the same manufacturer.

Export Management Company Sales and Marketing organizations specializing in all aspects of international sales.

F.O.B. - The notation f.o.b. should be followed by some location such as f.o.b. factory. It stands for "Free On Board" and means that the manufacturer will pay the freight up to the location indicated. Thus, f.o.b. factory means something entirely different than f.o.b. French port.

IWA Show - Major international shooting and hunting trade show that takes place every March in Nuremburg, Germany.

Proforma invoice - The proforma invoice is a price quotation that serves as a confirmation of the order and provides the importer with a document to take to his bank to facilitate payment based on agreed upon payment terms.

U.S./Canadian Free Trade Agreement - This recently completed agreement between the United States and Canada will virtually eliminate all duties between the two countries.
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Article Details
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Title Annotation:Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade Show
Author:Whitney, Leslie H.
Publication:Shooting Industry
Date:Dec 1, 1990
Previous Article:The Shot Show: an idea becomes an institution.
Next Article:Springfield went to the SHOT Show and a star was born.

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