Even marketing your product internationally on the Internet is hit-or-miss. You'll find the vast majority of Web buyers aren't serious potential customers. "About 90 percent of the people who approach me because they've seen one of my ads on the Internet turn out to be flakes," says William Saale, an importer-exporter of cigar accessories and small motorcycles. "They're people who just want free samples or information." The 29-year-old CEO of Phoenix-based Success Trading International Ltd. got so fed up trying to find solid leads that he turned the job over to JPG Consulting.
Graham says prospective buyers aren't the only people who act disingenuously. Companies or governments soliciting services are often just as guilty. They've been known to charge document and bond fees to entrepreneurs who really have no chance of being chosen to work on the projects they're bidding on and to post leads simply to put price pressure on their existing suppliers.
Making things even more difficult is the fact that buyers are just as wary of you as you should be of them. A proliferation of suspect goods is floating through cyberspace. As Graham says, "Anybody with access to the Internet can peddle their wares."