Larger businesses tend to be less agile than their smaller counterparts. As such, they’re less able to respond quickly to new threats or opportunities. Smaller, more agile businesses can make the most of flexibility in their manufacturing operations to go after new sales and distribution channels. The director of a consumer goods manufacturing and retail business said: “Our buyers used to be 90% trade, with 10% through direct consumer sales over the internet. Now, that ratio has switched.”
When it comes to agility, it’s beneficial for larger businesses to take a leaf out of the book of smaller businesses and look at how they continually seek out new sales channel opportunities.
Are you investing enough in customer relationships as your business matures?
A large manufacturer may have found success as a producer of highly specialised products with a tightly defined set of buyers. Stable, long-term customer relationships become increasingly important when it comes to maintaining a healthy sales pipeline as your business passes peak growth and reaches maturity.
You can strengthen your customer relationships by adding value to their businesses – for instance, by investing in more sustainable processes or shared technology. As a supplier, challenge yourself on how you can innovate with your buyer to make your relationship work more effectively.
When it comes to significant, long-term customers, it’s important to make sure your business is investing in the relationship to open up communication and shared visibility. The finance director of a large manufacturing corporation said: “We have a centralised business development monitoring system to create visibility of sales pipeline and order backlog. It’s a shared responsibility to look after customer relationships.”
Effectively managing your relationships with your customers is one of the best ways of maximising sales stability, improving transparency and addressing issues that affect your competitiveness. And that’s a way to de-risk your sales process that’s just as valid for growing manufacturers as it is for large, mature businesses.
Are you doing enough to support the global sales opportunities?
At any stage of growth, there are experiences from other manufacturers that you can draw on and learn from that will help you on your own journey.
Expanding your business into new growth markets is essential for increasing revenues and market share. Ask yourself: are you embracing technology to streamline your sales and payment processes as you grow? Are you protecting your sales from currency fluctuation and bad customer credit? Are you focused on building trust and rapport with new customers? And are you agile enough to respond to new sales opportunities as soon as they arise?