Your company may already have found foreign customers through your website, trade shows, and other avenues. However, there is great opportunity to enhance your proactive exporting strategy by looking into additional, far-reaching sales channels ideally suited to your product or service. This can be a local sales agent, representative or distributor with specific industry expertise in identifying opportunities and familiarity with local regulations, logistics, and after-sales service. In addition, the use of web, social media, and cross-border eCommerce to find international buyers will only continue to grow. Before signing any sales agreement, engage an attorney who is familiar with the local laws of that country. Learn more by viewing Choosing a Sale Channel, the first of five videos in the Finding Foreign Buyers set.
Last Published: 3/16/2018

International Selling 

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How to Find Foreign Buyers: Common Exporting Methods 

The video highlights some sales channels to consider when looking to find overseas buyers or partners. Going into more detail, there are two common methods of exporting: direct selling and indirect selling.

  • Direct selling is when the U.S. producer works directly with a foreign buyer which is usually a distributor or retail outlet which purchases the product.  

  • Indirect selling is when an export intermediary such as an export management company or an export trading company assumes responsibility for finding overseas buyers, shipping products, and getting paid. A variation on this method is an agent that you engage on a commission basis who finds the buyer for you. U.S. wholesalers can play the role of intermediary, buying goods from the producer and selling them to an end-user outside the United States.

The way you choose to export your products can have a significant effect on your export plan and specific marketing strategies. A key consideration is the level of resources your company is willing to devote to your international marketing effort. View some of the key resources below: 

Get Help, the U.S. federal government’s export assistance portal, links to many resources, including the following:                             
  • Approaches to Exporting offers additional insight into direct and indirect selling, including export management and export trading companies. 

  • Locate a trade expert and learn about the services of the U.S. Commercial Service’s global office network.                              

  • Country Commercial Guides provide the latest market intelligence on more than 140 countries from U.S. embassies worldwide.

  • A Basic Guide to Exporting provides additional insight on marketing. See Chapter 3: Developing a Marketing Plan, and Chapter 5: Methods and Channels.  


Prepared by the International Trade Administration. With its network of 108 offices across the United States and in more than 75 countries, the International Trade Administration of the U.S. Department of Commerce utilizes its global presence and international marketing expertise to help U.S. companies sell their products and services worldwide. Locate the trade specialist in the U.S. nearest you by visiting

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