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Chapter 6: Finding Qualified Buyers


  • U.S. Commercial Service buyer-search programs
  • U.S. Department of Commerce
  • Other federal government agencies to assist you
  • State and local government assistance

Download a PDF of a Basic Guide to Exporting.


By now, your company has identified the most promising markets for its products and devised a strategy to enter those markets. The strategy may involve selling directly to customers, using agents or distributors to reach the end-user, using one of the Business-to-Business (B2B) or Business-to-Consumer (B2C) e-commerce platforms, or a combination of these. Whichever of these strategies you choose, you can make it more effective by taking advantage of the many sources that offer help in finding buyers, evaluating trade shows and missions, and generating sales. The sources fall into a number of categories.

  • U.S. Department of Commerce Worldwide Buyer-Finding Programs
    These programs can help exporters identify and qualify leads for potential buyers, distributors, joint-venture partners, and licensees from both private and public sources. They include: Featured U.S. Exporters, a directory of U.S. products presented on local U.S. Commercial Service websites.
  • Customized market research reports by the U.S. Commercial Service, which use the service’s worldwide network to help U.S. exporters evaluate and understand various aspects of given markets and establish effective strategies for exporting into those markets.
  • Gold Key Matching Service, a customized buyer-finding solution offered by the U.S. Commercial Service.
  • International Company Profiles, which are background reports on specific foreign companies prepared by officers of the U.S. Commercial Service in foreign countries.
  • International Partner Search, in which teams of U.S. Commercial Service specialists in more than 75 countries help you find strategic partners.

U.S. Department of Commerce Trade Event Programs
These programs help exporters exhibit products that are difficult to sell unless buyers can examine them in person. They include:

  • International Buyer Program, which supports domestic trade shows featuring U.S. products with high export potential and recruits prospective foreign buyers to attend the shows.
  • Trade Fair Certification Program, an arrangement between private-sector show organizers and the U.S. government to increase U.S. participation in overseas trade shows.
  • Trade Missions organized or supported by the Department of Commerce.

Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS)
FAS can help arrange contacts overseas and provide marketing assistance for companies that export agricultural commodities.

U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)
USAID administers programs that offer export opportunities for U.S. suppliers of professional technical assistance, services and commodities.

U.S. Department of State
The Department of State operates the Business Information Database System (BIDS), an online trade lead program that collects business opportunities across the U.S. embassy system.

Millennium Development Corporation
This organization specializes in assisting the world’s poorest countries to develop their economies, with procurements of millions of dollars in goods and services that represent substantial business opportunities for U.S. companies.

U.S. Trade and Development Agency (USTDA)
USTDA helps U.S. businesses compete for infrastructure and industrial projects in emerging markets by funding feasibility studies, orientation visits, specialized training grants, business workshops, and various forms of technical assistance.

State and Local Governments
Various agencies and efforts of these governments provide an array of services to exporters, with many states maintaining international offices in major markets that work closely with U.S. Commercial Service offices.

Promotion in Publications and Other Media
A variety of magazines and media provide a large and varied assortment of publications covering international markets that U.S. businesses can use to reach potential customers. Publishers also supply potential exporters with helpful market information, make specific recommendations for selling in the markets they cover, help advertisers locate sales representation, and render other services to aid international advertisers.

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