Is this approach problematic? A decade ago, it might be acceptable, but the landscape of international trade has evolved significantly. Sending a price directly without further engagement often leads to a lack of follow-up nowadays. So, what's the right way to handle customer inquiries?
I. Understand the Source of the Inquiry
Understanding the source of an inquiry involves two aspects: the customer's channel of origin and the country they are located in.
Each channel has its own characteristics. For example, inquiries from B2B channels might be numerous but lack quality, whereas inquiries obtained through platforms like Google might come from more professional customers who are open to negotiation on pricing. However, each customer has unique traits, and channels are just an initial classification – specific judgments should be made based on communication outcomes.
Once you know the customer's country, you should be able to immediately answer these questions:
1. Does this country have any policy restrictions, such as anti-dumping regulations?
2. Are there any special requirements, such as preferred payment methods?
3. Have you previously worked with customers from this country? Are they still doing business? Have there been any issues?
4. What notable traits do customers from this country have? For instance, are Indian customers particularly price-sensitive?
II. Research Customer Websites Using Company Names
Most inquiries are sent under a company's name, so you can use the provided company name to find the customer's official website online. This helps you gather information about the customer, including their history, business model, main products, and market presence. This targeted information is invaluable during communication.
Through the customer's website, you can also discern whether they are intermediaries or end customers. End customers often prioritize stable supply, while intermediaries might focus more on profit. It's important to note that this doesn't mean neglecting price, payment methods, or quality; rather, it emphasizes that end customers tend to have higher demands for consistent supply.
For intermediaries, the strategy is relatively straightforward: focus on mutual cooperation, joint market expansion, and problem-solving to establish rapport and secure orders.
III. Explore Customer's Social Media
Social media is a great way to understand customers. Facebook can provide insights into personal information, updates, interests, and habits, while LinkedIn showcases educational and career backgrounds, even volunteer activities. This information helps you connect with customers more effectively during follow-ups and conversations.
IV. Actively Utilize Instant Communication Tools
If the customer provides a phone number or instant messaging contact in their email, you should promptly add them and introduce yourself. Leverage the information obtained from the previous steps to leave a positive impression. Of course, it's essential to ask for permission before adding them and inquire if it's okay to contact them there in the future.
Instant messaging tools bring you closer to the customer, strengthening the relationship and enabling more direct and efficient communication.
In summary, when replying to inquiries, avoid providing prices abruptly. Instead, use the strategies above to gain a deep understanding of the customer and establish a solid foundation for communication. This approach contributes to building strong cooperative relationships and increasing the success rate of inquiries.