Outbound sales are essential for every brand licensing business looking to grow and scale their programs. As a sales manager, you must be constantly aware of the current opportunities in the market of your chosen product categories. Here's why.
To proactively lead a licensing program, you need to know what your brand's licensing strategy is. While many successful licensing brands focus on the strategy, some of them forget about the importance of ongoing prospecting work. What many of them do it turning to their brand's existing partners to inquire whether they can manufacture new products or product ranges.
In brand licensing, outbound sales activities tend to rely not on prospecting and opportunity management, but on hunch and networking. The reasons this happens is because the majority of licensors and agents receive requests from licensees who offer their services or products for licensing purposes. There are two fundamental issues with this.
The first problem is that a brand might be missing some vital licensing categories on their target territories. On the other hand, licensing teams may remain misinformed as they lack credible data and statistics. The second problem is the lack of futuristic opportunities. These might be new technologies or even entirely new product categories that brand owners don't reckon as opportunities. The reason, again, is simple: technology providers or new product innovators don't considered their products as “licensable”.
Such new product categories particularly create new connection points with fans, making a brand look unique, fresh and appealing.
Brand licensing expos are an excellent opportunity for licensors and licensees alike to network and land new partnership opportunities. Unfortunately, many brands make their stands look unwelcoming to the product innovators with whom they don’t have any meetings booked. Personally, I recommend having at least one salesperson present at the stand to capture the ideas of the “walk-in” visitors. Doing so will ultimately open up chances for licensors to understand fresh trends and find partners with the knowledge of these trends. Here's one example of what's hot this year:
As LIMA’s annual survey 2018 states “categories such as casino gaming & lotteries, location-based events/ themed shows and attractions and licensed services are now showing growth levels above the industry average.”
There is a possibility that licensors who choose not to prospect licensees systematically miss out on the best market opportunities. If a licensee has a growing market and strong performance in sales, they might also avoid outbound sales efforts.
Ultimately, such sluggish sales activity creates a gap between prospective partners.
The retail market has also become more complex, with more distribution and sales channels emerging constantly. This has made some licensees more cautious about selecting their brand partners. Indeed, today's growing amount of networks and channels is making the financial cost and benefit calculations more difficult.
Also, the recent rise of the private labels and direct to retail deals has further reduced the competitive shelf space, making the systematic outbound selling in licensing more and more important. (LIMA Annual Survey 2018.)
Once the brand has confirmed their licensing strategy, its outbound sales should focus on finding and evaluating the best possible partners for their licensing program and not only focus on the inbound leads. The right combination of inbound and outbound sales with the right omnichannel presence distinguishes a strong brand licensing strategy. Moreover, it might make the difference between a successful licensing program and a program that doesn't quite make an impact.