He Single-Handedly Managed to Achieve 140 Million Yuan in Foreign Trade Within a Year!

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"The Mountain Gains Fame with an Immortal; Success Lies in Precision, Not Numbers."

This is the customer development methodology of Qi Gu, General Manager of Jiangsu JWB Animation Industry Co., Ltd. As a self-made post-90s entrepreneur, he developed clients on his own and achieved an impressive sales figure of 140 million RMB annually with just ten clients, setting an exemplary case of precision in client development.

Click on the Video to See Qi Gu's Story↓

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1. Bold Transformation: Expanding from Downstream Products to Upstream Supply Chain

Qi Gu's entrepreneurial journey began around ten years ago, operating on platforms like AliExpress and Amazon, mainly selling toys, women's hair accessories, and headbands. The entrepreneurial environment was relatively lenient at the time; he opened four online stores without needing deposits or other conditions, merely uploading product images to start selling.

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Initially, he handled dozens of orders daily, packaging and shipping them personally, often using postal services to save costs. However, as platform policies became more stringent, he realized the need to constantly stock inventory and face the risk of having funds frozen or issuing refunds due to infringement issues, which caused considerable stress.

After careful consideration, Qi Gu decided to pivot his business to the upstream supply chain, focusing on plush fabric products. As one of the first entrepreneurs in Changzhou's plush industry to venture into foreign trade, he started with small consolidated shipments, gradually accumulating experience until he could handle large 20-foot container orders. Between 2017 and 2018, a Southeast Asian client's cooperative factory failed to deliver on time, providing him with an opportunity that significantly boosted his business growth.

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2. Facing Challenges: From Declining Profits to Shifting Market Strategies

In recent years, the export situation for the plush fabric industry has become increasingly challenging, particularly with noticeable declines in profit margins. For instance, despite experiencing rapid growth during the pandemic, from the spring of 2023, JWB Animation's growth rate began to slow, not meeting Qi Gu's expectations. By 2024, actual order volumes only reached about 70% of previous years. To drive business development, Qi Gu personally visited Pakistan and Indonesia in February and March of this year.

To achieve long-term growth, Qi Gu believes in targeting more profitable high-end markets, with Europe and the US being his top choices. Rather than competing head-on with large enterprises, he selects one or two promising products as entry points to open doors in the European and American markets. His strategy is not to cast a wide net but to focus on specific areas, gradually gaining customers' trust and establishing a presence in their minds. As his products gain recognition, he plans to expand his product lines through these clients, building a solid foothold in the European and American markets.

Qi Gu understands that increasing market share in Europe and the US, even with a slight profit margin improvement, can significantly boost the company's revenue. For example, with the current annual output value of 140 million RMB, a 5% profit margin increase could substantially enhance annual returns.

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3. Strategic Approach: Market and Customer Analysis for Growth

(1) Transparent Operations: How Advanced Players Do It

Discussing the critical factors for business growth, Qi Gu emphasized the importance of market analysis and customer insights. "To achieve sustainable growth," he explained, "we must have a thorough understanding of product performance in various global markets. For instance, knowing which distributors in Bangkok collaborate with Thai peers is crucial information."

For companies engaged in foreign trade, if their business team is at an elementary or intermediate level, using Alibaba International Station is undoubtedly a wise choice. However, for those seeking higher competitive advantages, the Tendata iTrader SaaS platform offers a more professional solution.

This platform provides comprehensive and detailed information on customers, suppliers, and industry competitors, enabling advanced players to gain an edge in the complex international trade environment efficiently and effectively.

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(2)Time-Sensitive Analysis of Exhibition Customers

Qi Gu is also an active participant in international exhibitions. He plans to personally attend plush toy industry exhibitions in Nuremberg, Germany, and Las Vegas. The exhibitors at these events are his potential clients. Qi Gu hopes to establish connections through face-to-face interactions, aiming not just for one-time orders but for long-term, stable partnerships.

At exhibitions, Qi Gu sends photos of received business cards to Tendata customer service, who can return relevant information to his phone within minutes using Tendata data. This allows him to quickly understand which Chinese companies the client is doing business with and their trading volume this year, providing strong data support and helping manage risks.

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"In my view, Tendata leads in the customs data field. I've used other customs data services, but Tendata's functions are more complete and user-friendly. It also supports mobile operations, meaning I can check information on my phone without sending it to Tendata customer service, which is very convenient," Qi Gu said.

4. Sustaining Growth: Effective Customer Maintenance

"No matter the business, integrity is crucial," Qi Gu said. "I won't allow a single fake product from our company. If any defective products are found among the 800 pieces in a high cabinet, I'll remove them to ensure every item meets the highest standards." He understands that short-term gains from counterfeit goods can cost long-term trust and reputation. By maintaining this integrity, he has attracted Southeast Asian customers seeking reliable partnerships.

(1)Focusing on Major Clients for High Profits

Qi Gu's success didn't come overnight. His foreign trade export business started from scratch, with each client personally developed and maintained by him. Now, his performance has reached an astonishing 140 million RMB. Throughout this process, he gradually eliminated small clients whose needs and philosophies didn't align with his. As his business expanded, he focused more on high-profit major clients, some of whom have annual procurement amounts exceeding a million dollars. These clients are the result of careful selection and cultivation, forming a crucial part of his business success.

(2)Maintaining Long-Term Partnerships

Qi Gu's client base is stable and loyal, with most clients having annual procurement amounts exceeding a million dollars. One of his largest clients generates over two million dollars annually. This client, initially a partner, has grown into a significant distributor. Their communication mainly occurs through WhatsApp, without the need for calls, videos, or frequent emails, indicating a deep trust. When new orders arise, they simply confirm prices and place orders.

(3) Prompt Issue Resolution and Emotional Value

Qi Gu understands that timely responses to clients' issues are key to maintaining relationships. When clients encounter problems, he patiently explains and promises quick resolutions, respecting their feelings and fostering long-term cooperation. He believes that business is not just about transactions but also about providing emotional value.

5. Focused Development: Precision in Targeting High-Quality Major Clients

In targeting large clients, Qi Gu follows a specific methodology. 

(1) Benefits of Targeting Major Clients

While small clients are relatively easy to develop initially, their order volumes are usually small, limiting growth potential. Additionally, small clients often have lower risk tolerance and are more susceptible to market fluctuations. However, if a company can identify and successfully develop several major clients in the market, it will undoubtedly bring more stable and substantial growth to its foreign trade business.

(2) A Strategy for Developing Major Clients

Firstly, it's essential to understand that major clients never lack suppliers. Therefore, rather than directly seeking orders, a better entry point is becoming their backup supplier, Plan B.

Using the Tendata iTrader SaaS platform, we can obtain accurate information about potential clients and peers, including import-export records, customer emails, and phone numbers, enabling precise targeting. Our business team proactively establishes contact with potential clients through calls, emails, and social media.

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"We are a factory in China, in the same industry as your current Suzhou supplier. I'm not aiming to compete on price or take business but to offer more choices and value."

"We produce the products you currently purchase and have a standout product in terms of cost-effectiveness. I'd like to send you a sample for evaluation. You might consider a small trial order, like a small container, to assess our quality and market response."

"Our prices are highly competitive, and our extensive export business guarantees reliability." Qi Gu mentioned when discussing competing with peers, hoping for healthy competition and win-win cooperation with clients.

6. Future Vision: Leveraging Digital Tools to Improve Efficiency

Discussing his development plans and expectations, Qi Gu aims to further refine the entire industrial chain. "If I can successfully expand and perfect our own dyeing business, the company's annual output value could easily reach 660 million RMB." Qi Gu is optimistic, planning to use advanced digital tools like Tendata iTrader to significantly enhance team efficiency and attract more precise major clients.

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