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Ten Tips-Fast Start 2018

By: Greg Seminara, Export Solutions
Topics: Fast Start 2018

Many brand owners are cautious about 2018 shipment expectations. 2017 was a good year for many, but there is political and economic turbulence all over the map: Saudi Arabia,South Korea, Turkey, Brasil and the USA. December represents a perfect time to establish your personal “Fast Start” game plan. Read our Ten Tips below to secure a good beginning to 2018.

1. Move late December 2018 deliveries into January- Many companies have "finished" 2017 and are anxious to look ahead to the new year. Shifting one week’s worth of orders to January could provide a 2 % head start to 2018. The only caution is to watch retailer safety stock levels as holiday warehouse schedules and weather can impact deliveries.

2. Front Load Brand Promotional Programs- Retailers are looking for exciting events to build store traffic during the slower period between New Year and Easter. Why not start the year with a blockbuster promotional event ? This will be easier to execute early in the year versus later when spending is tighter.

3. Establish First Quarter Bonus Program or Sales Contest- Sales people and retailers respond to incentive programs. Fast Start bonus programs represent a good way to align and motivate the organization for the new year. A key issue is to ensure that aggressive shipments January – March do not compromise April-June. One tactic is to design programs with shipment objectives plus objectives for new item distribution, retail presence, or incremental merchandising.

4. Ten Percent Solution- Challenge each country manager and key account handler to design a plan to deliver 10 % sales growth for his market or account. Then, allocate funds to the most promising new opportunities. This tactic may require incremental funding, but could payout if they deliver.

5. Launch Breakthrough- Game-changing results require your sales team to creatively stretch their thinking. Breakthrough ( see separate article) requires each sales person to set one specific goal that would change their business performance by an order of magnitude.

6. Fix Problem Markets Now- All companies have markets that underperform. Consistent under-achievers impact our own ability to achieve our personal objectives. New Year represents an ideal time to make organizational changes. A new distributor or sales team will be enthusiastic and motivated to make a difference.

7. Fill White Spaces in your Export Coverage Map- There are 196 countries in the world, leaving most suppliers with gaps in their coverage. Aggressive focus on establishing new businesses early in the year allows the new countries to contribute to 2018 sales. Export Solutions facilitates the process with our Distributor Directory featuring more than 7,700 distributors in 96 countries.

8. Schedule January Planning Conferences- All retailers and distributors will be thinking creatively on how to grow their business in 2018. The key is to synchronize your plans with those of your trading partners. Personal ( or phone) meetings should be scheduled with key stakeholders to review the following input:
What are the retailers/distributors internal growth expectations ?
What will your retailers/distributors be doing differently this year ?
What are their core initiatives ?
What will be their best promotional vehicles ?
How can we get involved and aligned ?

9. Retail Store Conditions Drive- The New Year is an excellent time to focus your sales team on enhancing your presence at the point of purchase. Improved execution at store level can deliver incremental growth that lasts the entire year. Focus on the Fundamentals of retail distribution, reduced out of stocks, shelf management, correct pricing, and schematic compliance can yield immediate benefits at a relatively low cost.

10. What is your Global E Commerce Strategy ? All Export managers recognize that E Commerce sales are sky rocketting, but few companies (or distributors) have strategies outside China or the USA. Challenge each distributor to be an "early adopter" to crete a relevant, local E Commerce strategy.