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Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Succeeding in the downturn


I had a round of Golf with my friend the sweet manufacturer last weekend.

He has grown his business 14% in the last year.

He has opened a new production line, bringing his new factory to 40% capacity. He has bought over two million Euros worth of new plant on very favourable terms, €500K in cash, and the remainder paid on a profit share over 5 years.

In the middle of a downturn, with competitors downsizing or going bust,
he is thriving. Why?

sweet factoryWe could look at his qualities as a man, 63, who works an energetic 60 hour week, plays Tennis and Golf, Sails and Fishes, has a very full social and family life. He supports good causes, and does charitable work.
In all these aspects, he is NOT unusual.

He is a huge enthusiast for his Product.

He employs his brother a renowned research Chemist, now retired, to design new flavours and new scents for his confectionery. He has pioneered eco sweets using Bio alternatives to sugar. He literally travels the globe (with his golf clubs) looking for product and market ideas, but continues to be a foundation employer in his hometown population 30,000.


His enthusiasm is contagious; he successfully promotes his products by exhibiting at four key European Confectionary shows. He gets between 100-400 inquiries at each exhibition. Each one receives a prompt follow-up, he categorises these into

(A.) Current Product-Current Market,

(B.) Current Product-New Market

(C.) New Product-Current Market

(D.) New Product-New Market

He expects his sales people and sales agents to have success with every 'A' lead.

He personally nurtures the B leads, looking for a local agent to take his product to market, in Russia and the entire eastern bloc, in China and in South America. He chooses Sales Agents very carefully; he has 40 years experience, first in regions of Spain, then France and Italy, then the UK through the rest of Europe.

"What makes a good Sales Agent?" I asked him. "Results!" he responded.
"Sales Agents must be Cash positive, active and successful.
If they can't be all three then it doesn't work out".

He has had agents loyal to him for 30 or more years, some are the children, and soon the grandchildren of his original agents! Nevertheless, if you go cash negative, or become inactive and unsuccessful he will visit you, agree a recovery plan in a maximum of three months. If you do not recover, he fires you and recruits a new agent.

'C' leads he handles himself, what size is the opportunity, sometimes bringing the new product to market, or sourcing it from another manufacturer and branding it as his own. His concern here is always what value it brings, to the Customer, to the Business.

chocolate sharkFinally 'D' leads, he leaves strictly to his Marketing Department.

"When I handled them, I kept getting into new businesses, usually without a business plan!
Now the marketing people have to come to me with a fully “costed” business plan.

So, usually we do not get into new businesses!"






What is the basis of his success?

Customer focus and Customer service, Market focus especially Market pricing,
Product focus for quality, scaled manufacturing and an intense focus on Selling.
"If I cannot or do not sell it, how can I expect my Sales People or Sales Agents to sell it?

Why is my friend enjoying success in hard times?

Sales Success and Cash Management, simple.

Why not contact BMAC and talk about your success?

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