Showing posts with label relationships. Show all posts
Showing posts with label relationships. Show all posts

Tuesday 12 March 2013

How to choose the right customer, when trade-funds are scarce….

Given that even in precedented times key accounts were never created equal, in unprecedented times the differences have become greater and require even more careful classification in deciding whether a customer should be labelled invest, maintain or divest...

In the current climate, it is crucial to redefine what makes a customer special, and deserving of your increasingly scarce attention. This means starting with measuring real Potential, assessing scope for fair-share Partnership, establishing relative Profitability and your ability to Perform, all relative to other key customers in your supplier-portfolio.


Ignoring history, how important is the customer now in terms of relevance in the market, ability to adapt to new demands, responsiveness to new ideas, high growth phase of its life-cycle, and potential market share?

To what extent are you and the customer strategically aligned in terms of urgency? In other words, if you are striving to sort next year’s agenda, and the customer is obsessing about this coming weekend, your minds will never meet.... 

In terms of relationships, would you drink with the buyer in the evenings, without having a reason? 
Is there a good cultural fit, in terms of trust, risk appetite and little need for second-guessing? 
Finally, is your brand profile well represented in the customer’s traffic flow in terms of consumer match?


If they represent 10% of your sales, do they also represent 10% of your profits, i.e. a fair share relationship is possible?

How good is your competitive appeal vs. available competition within the customer?

Whilst scoring well on the above criteria will not guarantee a successful ROI each time, at least you will be starting with the right customer….

Wednesday 3 October 2012

Return on Investment in Business Trust, the real payoff?

At a time when our trust in the banking and political systems has all but been destroyed, and major retailers are struggling to meet City expectations, we are at a place where the letter rather than the spirit of the law defines business relationships, with the ‘small print’ confirming for many that we are all now on our own.

In an age of uncertainty, we therefore have to be mindful of both the letter and spirit of our agreements in formalising any initiatives. In other words, we need to establish basic business trust in an atmosphere of unprecedented suspicion and even fear…

The need for robust contracts
It goes without saying that in order to observe the spirit of a supplier-retailer ‘fair-share’ agreement it is critical to have a robust written contract as a basis for monitoring any inadvertent straying from what each party thought they were buying into when the deal was struck…the ‘gentlemen’s agreement’ has perished not for want of gentlemen, but because business stakes and costs have now reached unprecedented heights…

Why trust saves money
Essentially, if we do not invest, build and maintain a minimum level of ‘trading trust’ in the early stages of a supplier-retailer relationship then the extra work involved in second-guessing our trading partner’s intentions comes straight off the bottom line. In other words, like networking in these unprecedented times, the current business climate does not allow for the gradual, instinctive building up of the necessary levels of trust. Instead, taking trust as a desirable and essential outcome, we need to methodically accelerate the process, upfront.

Just the beginning…
Thus, from a position where trust started as a means of avoiding wastage of time and money in the early stages of the relationship, a way establishing our trust-credentials,  mutual trust becomes an increasingly important, indeed vital ingredient over the lifetime productivity of the supplier-retailer partnership...

In fact, in my first brand management job, I appointed a Belfast firm as our agent in Northern Ireland for our only product, K2R Stain-remover. Following intensive negotiation, we agreed on a comprehensive Agency Contract and commenced trading. One night a few years later, the agent rang me mid-evening to let me know that a liquidator would be appointed at 0900 the following morning, but meanwhile, if I could organise some transport….?
Even I knew that the liquidator’s first act would be to chain the front gates, at which point everything inside would belong to the government.  
I made a few phone calls and managed to have our £4,500 stock picked up before midnight.
There was nothing in our Contract covering early warnings, but implicit was an understanding that we would trust one another to do the right thing, when necessary…I have remained forever grateful for the insight...

In other words, by investing in the spirit of the relationship, the resulting overall Return on Investment in trust can provide a real payoff for all stakeholders.            
Trust me, folks,  it works…

More here
How to build business trust with major retailers here