Route to Market Series #4 – Have you Expanded into New Channels of Distribution?

Route to Market – is your sales organization optimized? 

When was the last time you reviewed the structure of your Sales Organization? How has the marketplace changed since then? Many Companies review their business strategy on a regular basis, but very few pause to look at the selling environment they are competing in and the appropriateness of their Selling Organization for this new reality.

This is the 4th in a series of 5 Blogs that will look at how a change in your competitive landscape can impact your Route to Market.

Have you Expanded into new Channels of Distribution?

As companies look for new growth opportunities they often look to expanding the distribution of their products/services.

Have you taken your products from the Retail channel into the Food Service or Mass Merchandiser channels? 

Are you considering expanding from B2B to B2C or visa versa?  

Is your sales organization capable of being a High Performance selling organization in these new channels?

Different channels of distribution have different operating dynamics. You may find yourself faced with new Competitors (see last week’s Blog),  you will have new Customers who may have different objectives and buying practices (see the 1st Blog in this series), this will probably require a different set of selling skills than what exists in your current Sales organization. As an example, when I was the General Manager of Treasury Wine Estates our Sales team was excellent at selling at retail but for the Food Service business we did not have a team that was specifically trained to manage large National Chains such as Boston Pizza. We did not fully understand their needs nor how to evaluate opportunities. As a result we missed out on some great opportunities while losing money on some of our accounts. Recognizing this, we brought in a Sales Director who was experienced in the National Account business and was able to elevate the skill set of our team such that we won a significant piece of business.

Have you increased your FTE to manage the increased customer list?

If not, you are putting your existing business at risk. You cannot afford to take your current customers for granted. If you let up on your call cycles or service levels, your competitors will move in. Assuming that you had optimized your Sales organization prior to expanding into new channels, then unless you add resources you will do an inadequate job in penetrating the new channel and your existing business will decline. Even if you are using Agents or Brokers for the new channel, your Sales management team will be diverted from their core business. The biggest risk in expanding into new channels is the potential erosion of your existing business.

Is the new channel in a different country?

This will not only impact your Sales organization but every aspect of your organization. Does your management team have not only the capabilities but the band width to absorb the increased work load and demands of a new market? If not your overall business will be at risk.

Your competitive set is constantly changing.
Is your sales Organization proactively positioning itself for success?

Next time we will look at, Your Competition has changed their Route to market.

About the Author:

Steven Poirier has over 20 years’ experience in executive roles with a diverse group of Private and Family businesses. He has built and restructured National and Regional Sales and Marketing organizations and he continues to advise companies in ways to optimize their resources and position them as true leaders in their respective industries.

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