Selecting your Foreign Agent

  1. Your agent should be a national of the country where you aim to do business and should have experience in your industry or product line.
  2. The agent should not be involved with a competing company or product, but could be representing a complimentary line.
  3. Do your own checking of references. Have your banker check your agent’s bank references.
  4. Where credit is an issue, get a credit report from a local credit agency.
  5. Check at least five or six of the agent’s references: clients, customers or other business contacts relevant to your business.
  6. Visit your prospective agent in the foreign country and ask to come along on customer calls. Watch carefully how clients, secretaries, and purchasing agents respond to the agent.
  7. Since the personal relationship is so important in business abroad, the contact person must be someone who can negotiate for your company and who has authority to sign a contract on the spot.
  8. Make sure responsibilities are clear. The agent is typically responsible for promoting your interests and products, but it is no standard procedure as to who pays for what. For example, the agent can design local advertising campaign and pay for it, or bill you, or, conversely, you must provide advertising.
  9. If possible, make the written contract with your agent short-term and nonexclusive so that you have a safety valve. However, it is essential for you to treat it as an exclusive arrangement and to establish a strong mutual long-term commitment. Many agents will not consider a contract that is not exclusive or that does not continue for several years.
  10. Consult a local attorney before making any commitment to a national. It is difficult to get out of an agent agreement, so terms of termination and other “outs” should be established in the beginning. Agency laws in foreign countries are changing rapidly and legal problems arising from small mistakes can put you out of the market permanently

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

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