Challenges and interesting opportunities
The Chinese market within human health is characterized by extremely fast-moving trends and changes with both local and international competitors. This creates an interesting business environment with demanding customers: “The complexity of the Chinese market poses many challenges and interesting opportunities with a great potential pay-off in the huge market. Chr. Hansen’s position as a market leader in probiotics is quite well-known, but we are also moving from solely being a strain supplier to full-service solution provider. We are working dedicatedly to build up and maintain a strong infrastructure around the entire value chain, providing customers with high quality strains with demonstrated clinical studies for their products,” Ma Yi describes.
Meeting customer demands
Chinese customers expect fast reactions and deliveries, requiring Ma Yi and her colleagues to anticipate their demands. “We need to have a profound knowledge of our customers and be able to predict their needs. Often, these needs go beyond our high quality probiotic strains and include the capability to create the finished products locally as well as educating business partners and consumers. This requires us to provide services within application, local CMO production, commercial communication and engagement with key opinion leaders. It is great to see how fast we can move and how dedicatedly both sales people and the rest of the organization are striving to meet the needs,” Ma Yi explains.
Value-adding products to improve human health
The human health portfolio holds a vast number of probiotic products and strains that may benefit the health and well-being of people all over the world – from infants to adults, from digestion to dental health. With Chr. Hansen’s business acquisitions in the human health field in 2020, the product portfolio expanded, creating even more opportunities. Ma Yi notes: “The combination of our two respective ranges of probiotic strains, SCIENCE by Chr. Hansen and POWERED by Chr. Hansen, enables us to deliver both scientific value to our customers, and help support the health of end consumers. The solid scientific documentation of our strains helps us and our customers to stay competitive in the market and meet commercial expectations for high potency, multiple strains.”
Ma Yi highlights how the continuous research in human health makes the area highly exciting to work with: “Chr. Hansen doesn’t just stay on status quo, but always works to deliver new, innovative products that truly make a difference. I experience a fundamental respect of the science behind all of our solutions, which is mirrored in our customers, who also work to improve human health through their consumer products.”
Dedicated training and development
Our sales organization works from a globally implemented Sales Excellence model that focuses on developing and implementing best practices across all business areas. The model includes dedicated trainings, tools, services and processes all sales people can use. This model makes it possible for sales people across Chr. Hansen to speak the same language when it comes to their work.
Ma Yi sees the Salesforce system as a great way to manage new opportunities, keep track of projects and progresses, and she underlines the importance of having a deep understanding of the product portfolio: “With complex products and a high level of science, it is crucial for my colleagues and myself to have a thorough understanding of the mechanisms behind each product in order to provide customers with the best tailor-made solutions. I think we are very well informed, and every day I learn more about our products, among other things from participating in training sessions on for instance trademarks and patents. This enables me to transfer the importance of our IP assets to unique customer value. By appropriately using our trademarks of BB-12®, LGG®, UREX™ etc., our customers not only benefit from the health properties from the products themselves but can also use the trademarks to differentiate from competition and gain recognition from consumers.”
A supporting, empowering and sharing environment
To work in a fast-moving sales environment, having supporting managers and colleagues is crucial. To Ma Yi, this means empowering her team members to thrive and shine through their work, while delivering great results and sales revenue. “To do that, I aim to know each member’s career goals and dreams so I can guide them towards those. I prioritize weekly coaching sessions to ensure we have dedicated time with each other to follow up on progress and successes, and to guide and help with challenges.”
She also finds that her own line manager supports and empowers her in her role by being very supportive and encouraging her to build relations with other teams around the world and across functions. “This enables me to engage fast in the daily operations and gain a holistic view of Chr. Hansen. The coaching and learning-by-doing inspire me to test new ideas and ways of working, which is a great way to find solutions for the exciting challenges facing us every day.”