As the world opens up, so will many opportunities. From what I am hearing from all of the salespeople I have been meeting with over the past few weeks, it sounds like customers are on the prowl, looking for new sourcing opportunities. If you are waiting for the world to go back to the way it used to be, it’s becoming evident that the world will not be the same any time soon, or maybe never. But that means there are great opportunities for those of us in sales.
As I mentioned earlier, companies are going to be looking for alternative sources for their products, especially PCB and PCBA products and services. The biggest change will be onshoring. More and more customers are seeking domestic suppliers. They feel there is just too much uncertainty in the world right now, and they want to have the peace and comfort of dealing with a supplier. In the U.S., some of these companies are working to move their entire supply chain back to the United States.
Other U.S. companies are not making such a drastic change, but they are going to do all of their new product introductions (NPIs) stateside instead of sending it all to offshore sources. They feel that their intellectual property (IP) is safer in the U.S. than anywhere else. Building products domestically also means businesses other advantages, such as easier communications and facilities visits.
Speaking of NPI, there is a great deal of it going on right now. You’ve heard me say before that a crisis is a terrible thing to waste, and this crisis is no exception. I’ve also discussed many of the new medical devices and equipment that companies are developing; medical electronics are becoming more critical than ever. But there are other products that will be required as we all emerge from our homes and start going out into the world again.
In our new world, for example, this pandemic will not end quickly but rather gradually. We will not go back to work when it is completely over; instead, we will be able to go back when the numbers of people who have been infected start to wane. This means that we will be going back to work while this pandemic is still with us, so we will all have to take precautions in the meantime.
These precautions are already causing a demand for new products as I write this. For example, how are we going to open doors without touching them? Sure, supermarkets and airports have automatic doors, but what about businesses? How many companies have automatic doors that you visit? Almost every organization that is open to the public will be looking for automatic doors or other solutions.
Then, as companies open up again, we will need new ways to disinfect visitors to the business. What will lobbies look like in the near future, like next Monday? Dealing with issues like these is going to require innovative products.
How about airplanes, subways, trains, buses, and taxies, as well as the places people congregate to use these methods of transportation (airports, subway and train stations, etc.)? These places are all going to have to be retrofitted with products and devices that have not even been invented yet, let alone come to the market.
Other places where people congregate must be considered as well. Try to visualize what it’s going to be like to go to the Staples Center to watch the Bulls and the Lakers or Fenway Park to watch the Sox? And what about concert venues? How will those work? I can guarantee that it is going to take a lot of innovative products coming to the market before we’ll get to see a sports event, concert, play, or even a religious service in person.
When you start thinking about all of the new products that we are going to require to feel safe again, it boggles the mind. However, it also provides opportunities for those of us in the electronics business (or practically any other business). For those of us in sales, we have to ensure that we are in front of the right people at the right time as the demand for innovative products explodes.
It’s very simple; customers are looking for new sources and new ways to do things. They are also open to finding new links to their supply chains. Thus, it is up to us as salespeople to be there as they look for these alternatives.
This is time to be marketing our companies to current customers, who will be building new products, and potential customers, who will be looking for alternate sources that can handle their NPI needs. They are seeking companies like yours who can help them develop and produce their post-pandemic products, which means that our job as salespeople is what it has always been; in the end, you want to be found.
It’s only common sense.
Dan Beaulieu is president of D.B. Management Group.