7 tips for success for business development in the food industry
Published: 06 Jul 2016
If you are looking for sales and commercial food jobs, then you need to know about business development. This is a key role which allows you to take the business further, making partnerships which will help to drive revenue or distribution, or enhance the product that the business sells. For example, you might be helping to make deals for a new organic food company to stock their food in supermarkets, or making sure that the packaging is best suited to preserve the food for as long as possible. Here are 7 tips to help you succeed at business development where the food industry is concerned.
1. Grow your contacts
Never throw away a business card, and make sure that you update contact details as often as possible. Grow your network as wide as you can: contacts are the lifeblood of a business developer. Not only that, but if you have people who end up owing you favours, so much the better – when you have a new product launch that you need to push, it’s time to call them in. Gain more contacts by attending networking events and speaking to as many people as possible.
2. Liaise with account managers
Normally, once the deal is done, you’ll have the account over to an account manager and let them handle the ongoing relationship. Talk to them before you agree to anything, and keep them in the loop. This will help them to continue to meet expectations and keep both parties happy as you move forward. Don’t make any long-term promises that will upset the account manager!
3. Quantitative, not qualitative
If your product has excellent qualitative benefits, like a better taste, then that’s all well and good. What is much better is a quantitative benefit, like increased sales, lower production costs, or increase revenue. Make sure you use quantitative points when trying to make deals in order to get a more receptive response.
4. Know your deals
Why does a particular deal benefit your company? How will it improve revenue or make your products better? Have a clear and measurable goal in mind when signing a deal. You can also use this to much more easily assess success or failure, and figure out why things might not have gone as planned. It shows your superiors that you know what you are doing, too.
5. Nurture your clients
It’s so much harder to get a new client than it is to get an existing client to grow your deal – especially if you’re providing them with a good service. Make sure to stay in contact and respond promptly, provide the best service you can, seek their feedback, and show appreciation whenever possible. Don’t neglect the deals that have already been done because you’re too busy chasing new ones.
6. Check your matches
Make sure that you have checked out the potential for a good deal between your firm and another before you set anything in motion. If you waste time chasing the wrong opportunities, the right ones will pass you by. Don’t even attempt to make someone your client until you know that they are a good match for what you are providing and what you need.
7. Know the industry
Industry trends can move fast, and if you ignore them, you will soon be left behind. Not only will you be outperformed by your peers who are in the know, but you will also find yourself losing deals because you are no longer on the cutting edge. If you clearly demonstrate your knowledge of the latest industry trends, you present yourself as someone who knows what’s going on and can be trusted to steer the ship right. First impressions count, and one mistake can be enough to close down a deal for good.
Whether you are a beginner or an experienced business developer, you need to keep these tips in mind or risk underperforming. You have an important role in making sure that your company is able to move ahead, and if you fail to do your job well, it could be catastrophic – and not just for yourself. It’s a sobering thought to bear in mind!