How can you find good distributors in Germany quickly?

Question

We are preparing to start exporting to Europe – Germany in particular – and we are finding it difficult to find distributors commercial agents or wholesalers for our product – a movement sensor for use in nursing homes, hospitals and care homes – without having to pay a small fortune.

We are booked in for the next UKTI seminar but it’s not until November. Also registered with as many free sites like this we can find and e-sources. We are also booked to go to a trade fair in Germany at the end of September.

But very keen to get some contacts before then – can anyone help? Google only takes you so far

Answer

Firstly, it’s worth mentioning the obvious point that there is a lot of difference between appointing a commercial sales agent, a wholesaler and a distributor, and you need to think carefully about this, as part of your market research and entry strategy. Take into account how your particular sector works, how clients like to buy and how competitors operate.

You will doubtless get a lot of replies on this subject, but if you are specifically looking to appoint an independent commercial sales agent in Germany, it might be worth looking at the website of the CDH – this is the trade association which represents German commercial sales agents across a wide range of industry sectors. You can find their English language website at: http://en.cdh.de/ . They have a range of services and options to help traders to link up with their members. There will almost certainly be a fee, but from past experience, it’s not too high, although, like anything in life, there is no guarantee of a successful result.

Good luck!

Answer

There are many ways that you can locate potential contacts, so start with your local Enterprise Europe Network and request to post a business bulletin. They will have a register of your sector and in most cases this is FOC. As all businesses in Germany are members of the Chamber of Commerce, go through some of these where your sector will be located. Then there is LinkedIn and join the appropriate forums. Try Facebook as well and pay for posts through their business opportunities. UKTI will do a good job as well through their OMIS scheme, but there will be a charge, but this is heavily subsidised. Your ITA will be able to assist here and put you in touch with the best Commercial Officer for your sector. Hope this all helps?

Answer

I note that you say Google only takes you so far. If you can ( via the internet) It would be worth really investing time in trying to uncover what ‘channels’ German, French, Spanish care homes and institutions purchase their supplies from? There may even be a large European company who supplies across several European markets ( even one based in the UK?) Also, Do you have a draft contract of what you would like in any distributor/agent/retail agreement? It would be worth drafting something simple that would cover ‘Territory, pricing, currency ‘ etc.
Finally who else is out there supplying a similar ( or closet) to your product. Where are they based and who do they use? Do you compete or do you look for a different entry to market. Good Luck at the upcoming show.

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