Wherever you go, whether it’s in an airplane, a car, or you’re simply walking across a tiled floor to get there, chances are most of the materials you interact with are plastic.
Wherever you shop, whether you want a fresh sandwich and something cold to drink, or you’re picking up some groceries for the week, chances are they were all packaged in plastic. And because plastics are diverse, they are everywhere and often taken for granted and villainized due to careless pollution caused by mishandling.
Is a grocery bag being dragged by the wind or an empty water bottle floating to the top of a lake, river or sea to blame?
This is certainly a challenge or even an opportunity to an ever evolving and much needed industry. New technology in materials alongside changing applications of traditional packaging products opens new avenues for education and source reduction. There are viable eco-friendly degradable options now.
Today’s packaging and plastics’ professionals must have a diverse understanding of the product, its uses, future innovations and the targeted market to not only secure their bottom lines, but to also validate a demonized industry through education and increased consumer interaction.
- Be flexible and listen
Flexible Packaging is not a “cookie cutter” industry. The Devine Group, an organization offering employee assessments and talent analytic tools to help employers hire smarter, develop talent and drive results, identified individual competencies for becoming more flexible in sales including reading the situation, being emotionally objective and self-aware.
Being able to ebb and flow with customer demand is critical. This ultimatum can range from low to high seasons. As a result, communication is key during high demand because of longer lead times, and the capable rep will keep customers informed to ensure they are prepared.
In addition, customers want to know they are important no matter their order quantity. Listening to their needs, and even demands, is critical. Be friendlier, quicker to respond, have quicker lead-times and surprise them with unexpected follow up calls, instills confidence.
- Respond! Go above and beyond
In a world full of noise, time is becoming one of the most valuable resources at our disposal, according to Vendasta, a software company building sales and marketing platforms.
Data compiled by the company shows once a prospect has been engaged, YOU only have five minutes to contact the lead or you risk losing them forever. In fact, a study by Lead Connect revealed a whopping 78 percent of customers buy from the first responder.
Competition is steep, differentiating your firm and associates in the marketplace from the others is vital in the early stages of a sale. The Muse, an online career platform out of New York, identified putting feedback into action, anticipating needs and bringing your own ideas to the table as key characteristics for going above and beyond for clients.
Essentially, if you can check these marks, you’re on the right track.
- Understand your demographic and have a personal touch
If you don’t have a handle on your targeted audience, it will be even more difficult to keep them.
AeroLeads, a lead-generating software company, advises a firm’s demographics should be a basic action in their sales pipeline management. They also point to this understanding leading to lowering sales and marketing costs, identifying new opportunities, creating unique selling points and increasing sales.
Demographic information can be found at federal or state departments of commerce, Census Bureau data, Bureau of Labor Statistics, professional and trade associations and many other places online. Laser-focusing sales’ efforts will also help you understand your own product and services a little better while opening the door to deeper client and customer relations.
Having a personal touch can be the difference-maker. In a sea of fish, YOU want to be the mermaid. Customers don’t want to feel they are being sold. Let them know their ideas, packaging, products and business has value.
After all, a business operating in a silo will ultimately fail. Working towards a unified vision alongside the customer is the winning formula.
- Know your product
Knowledge is power, right? Targeting and promoting the things YOU do best will give the customer better quality, price and knowledge. In addition, focusing on their specific needs will resolve a packaging dilemma while promoting YOUR brand.
The Balance Small Business, an Internet measuring company, names marketing literature, sales reps, training sessions, testimonials, role playing and practical use as the most ideal methods for improving YOUR product knowledge.
While pricing structure, styles, colors and models, product history, manufacturing process, how to use, distribution and delivery, servicing, warranty and repair information were listed as “what to know”.
Implementing the characteristics above into your organization and evolving them into natural protocol is the first step at not only an increase in sales and improved customer relations, but also in becoming a “One Stop Flexible Packaging Shop” for your clientele and ensuring business never goes down the road.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Mark McClure is the VP at International Plastics, with over 35 years of experience in the flexible packaging industry