Know your customers and partners

To get an idea of who your potential customers are, begin with what you know about your current customers. There are likely to be similarities.

Statistics on your market’s population size, age and GDP will help to define:

  • who’s going to buy your product or service
  • if your customers are an intermediary or an end consumer
  • what affects customer behaviour and how to measure it

Find out customer preferences, motivations and behaviour by:

  • having informal conversations at trade shows, events or missions
  • conducting surveys, formal interviews and focus groups
  • conducting surveys
  • selling small quantities as a test

Conduct due diligence checks

You must find out information about your customers and partners. This can be done by searching online using various service providers or by asking them directly. Useful sources include:

  • local company registration services (equivalent of Companies House in the UK)
  • official websites, social networks and web searches using local language search engines
  • blacklists published by government authorities
  • bribery, Politically Exposed Person (PEP) and sanctions databases provided by third parties

You can ask for:

  • a certificate of incorporation, a recent bank statement and licences
  • references and CVs
  • their position in the supply chain
  • a review of their historical accounts

You should keep records of all due diligence activities. It is also worth speaking to experienced British companies that have already invested in a particular market. They may know local people and may be able to share useful tips about individual companies.

Online due diligence tools include the:

Supply chain mapping

Gathering information to map your supply chain is a critical part of modern business. Supply chain mapping can be used as a tool to manage risk and gain a commercial advantage.

Understanding the supply chain process allows you to:

  • determine the right price point for your customers and end consumers
  • calculate the impact of every price mark-up at each stage of the production and distribution process
  • spot signs of bribery or fraud such as high margins or unjustified costs

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