Greg Seminara, Export Solutions

Exporters love the thrill  of creating plans to conquer new markets. The reality is that our annual sales quota is dependent on driving new sales from our existing markets and distributors. This appears as a challenge in a low growth country or mature category, particularly if you are not blessed with baskets of money to invest in brand support activities. Listed below are our ten tips for sourcing new sales from existing markets.

1. Fill in White Spaces on your Listing Map

Most manufacturers focus their energy on the total sales number for a country. The one template I recommend for each market is a Listing Map. This grid lists top 10 customers in the first column and your brand sku assortment in a horizontal row. Where are the distribution voids ? Which new listings will generate the most cases ? What resources are needed  to fill the white spaces? What is the plan ?

2. 10 % Challenge

Trade spending may be a wise investment if it drives profitable , incremental sales.
This is a good time of year to challenge distributors with the question: “What type of spend levels would be necessary  to secure a 10 % increase in shipments (consumption) in the next 90 days ?”. Of course, in emerging markets you may want to challenge the distributor for a 20-40 % increase or higher.

3. Retail Sales Contest

Competitive sales representatives love contests. Everyone enjoys winning a prize or supplementing their income. Brand owners should consider a sales contest that is tied to “Pay for Performance”. Measure incremental pallet displays for volume brands or most creative display for smaller brands. Sync your competition with your peak seasonality or a new product launch. Awards such as I pads or weekend trips are motivational. Structure the contest to maximize winners. Create a theme and “have fun”.

4. Senior Management Visit
Schedule a visit for your company president or other senior executive to visit an underperforming market. Arrange for the visit 2-3 months in advance. You would be surprised at the serious market issues that are resolved prior to your bosses arrival. The executives visit is boosted by new ideas and a commitment for future performance.

5. Evaluate your Pricing Model
Pricing drives volume. Most pricing models were designed at the beginning of a relationship and rarely revisited except for the periodic price increase. Conduct a retail pricing survey. What is your price gap versus your competition? What would happen if you adopted an “every day low price” approach ? If you took a price decline of 10 %, would the incremental volume compensate for the price reduction ?

6. Co-Promotion: Leverage Distributors Product Portfolio
Many of the most successful distributors run quarterly or annual promotional events featuring all their brands. Normally, there is a charity tie in or special theme overlay. The beauty is that each of the distributors brands pays only their share of the event. These Co-Promotion events turn out to be a big win for the distributor and each of their brands.

7. Annual Customer Business Review

It’s appropriate for a formal review of your business at each major customer. This could be a data intensive review at a key customer in a developed market or a “two pager” in an emerging market. The process is the key. Focusing each sales representative analyze their business results and identify their largest opportunities adds visibility to your priorities.

8. Spend Time at Retail
Most market visits program the export manager from hotel to office to customer followed by dinner.
Periodically, we’ll squeeze in a store visit or two before a customer call or flight departure. Why not dedicate a day at retail with the retail manager during a market visit ? You’ll get a good pulse at market conditions and communicate your brand insights directly with the retail sales manager. Brands that are obsessed with in store performance win incremental retail sales team focus.

9. Offer a Bonus Pack or On-Pack Promotion
Most brands source 90 % of their sales from the shelf. Generate some excitement everyday with a bonus pack or other special pack promotion. Many distributors can manually apply small gifts or premiums at their own warehouses.

10. Distributor Change
Organizational change is a last resort. However, if a distributor continues to deliver uninspiring performance, you may be forced to look at market alternatives. How is the distributor sales growth versus overall category and market growth ? A new distributor typically brings a boost of energy and a renewed sense of commitment to a brand.