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Government information for entrepreneurs

Finding customers and business partners abroad

This information is provided by

Netherlands Chamber of Commerce, KVK | Netherlands Enterprise Agency, RVO

Your business conducts import or export activities. Are you looking for customers or business partners abroad? There are several options.

Finding customers or business partners

There are several ways to get in touch with potential customers and business partners. It may help to compose a profile before you start looking, asking yourself questions like: Do I want a partner who invests money?, What type of skills should my partner possess?, and Do I want to do business with a large or a small company?

Collaboration with a distributor or trade agent

Rather than finding your own customers, you can collaborate with a distributor or an agent. If you collaborate with a distributor, he is the only party you deal with. The distributor buys your products, markets them and sells them on. You run less risk and don’t have to spend much time marketing your products. The possible disadvantages are that you have no direct link to your customers, and that you won’t get to know the market in the export country as well as you might wish. If you collaborate with an agent, you are the one to sell your products to your customers. The agent helps you find customers and is involved in marketing activities for a fee (or commission, usually a percentage of the profit). This means that you have direct contact with your customers, but you run a higher risk.

Be aware of cultural differences

Be aware of cultural differences between your country of origin and your import/export country. The Netherlands Enterprise Agency landeninformatieExternal link (in Dutch) lists the chief do’s and don’ts per country.

Set up a foreign branch

Another option is setting up a foreign branch of your company. This will simplify matters greatly: you won’t have to make special arrangements for deliveries and payments of your products. But it will take up more of your time, naturally. It will also mean higher costs.

Check your foreign business partners’ reliability

Limit your risks by checking your customer’s or business partner’s reliability before you start doing business with them. For instance, check if they are registered in the foreign commercial register. You can also hire a credit reporting agency to check on an organisation.

Questions relating to this article?

Please contact the Netherlands Chamber of Commerce, KVK

This information is provided by

Netherlands Chamber of Commerce, KVK
Netherlands Enterprise Agency, RVO