It’s not easy to reel in a serious enquiry of USD 1 million the first time you put your feet in a new market. But…. we made it happen.
As part of a UNIDO programme to support the surgical instruments industry in Sialkot, Pakistan, we facilitated a trade mission to South Africa. From October 27 until November 1, 2019, 10 Pakistani companies had the opportunity to meet with buyers in Johannesburg and Cape Town in two separate business events.
The quest to find new markets
The Pakistani surgical instruments industry has a long tradition and the instruments can be found in hospitals all over the world. The South African market is however new territory to the participating companies. In a quest to identify new promising markets and diversify exports, we identified South Africa as a market with untapped potential.
If you can’t sail on reputation, it’s a lot of hard work
Our associate expert Peter Hurst, who worked in the export enabling environment in South Africa for many years, took the Pakistani companies under his wings. Together with a locally connected representative from the medical equipment sector he prepared and promoted the event, coached the Pakistani companies and mobilized the key players from the health and medical sector to participate in meeting the companies. A challenging but rewarding exercise. As quoted by Peter: “South Africa is a complex market with both private and public health systems and limited government funding for the majority of the population. Offering significant savings by importing instruments direct from the manufacturers in Pakistan can ensure excellent value for money and ensure that quality is not compromised”.
Quality over quantity
During the events some 40 relevant visitors attended, including a good number of qualified buyers. To some this may look like a small number. However, it’s all about the relevance of the buyers and whether there is a good match for the potential suppliers from Pakistan. Big numbers of visitors may look nice for the record, but in the end it comes down to a good match for potential relationships, concrete leads and entries in the order book. And everybody knows it is not easy to book orders in first-time participation at an event in a new market. However, one of the Pakistani companies is in the process of closing a deal worth USD 1 million from one single South African buyer. As Nima Bahramalian, UNIDO programme manager, mentioned: “This is a great achievement, more than we expected.” It confirms the importance of the selection of relevant buyers.
Commitment pays off
As Peter mentions: “Entering a new market is a journey that will take long-term commitment and investment in time, money, relationship and marketing. After all, people buy people first and winning new customers is all about trust and meeting the expectations of the market and the individual buyers”.