Whether in life or business, storms will come and go.
Those with strong anchors always seem to best weather the storm. Strong family ties, community connections, or sense of self, are anchors that support overcoming personal obstacles. But what about strengthening the business anchors? Beyond the business school principles of solid acumen, fiduciary controls, and management theory, what do the best local teams do to align themselves and their products in the most defensible positioning?
Strong family ties in business should be considered the alignment that a local sales team maintains with its corporate support groups.
The local team must ensure dissemination of forthright information at the highest level of the organization, even when it’s less than positive. Developing trust across the family that the issues are bigger than the people involved, and are as such, best solved cross-functionally. Holistic solutions begin at the early stages of the value chain and in the best cases, improve as each respective function provides input.
- How often does the entire customer team visit HQ for all-day work sessions?
- Is the customer team lead included in S&OP meetings (in person, video, or conference)?
- How often do brand teams engage with the local team and buyers collectively?
- Do you conduct cross-functional store visits when working with HQ teams?
Community connections in the business application represent alignment with your core consumers and developing of ongoing reciprocal communication.
Maintaining this anchor will always ensure that regardless of the strategy shift a retailer may consider, your product, or brand relevance, is an important piece of the category solution. Although this will require revisiting strong family ties, the local team can help drive urgency throughout the organization as well as managing specific retailer shopper marketing efforts.
- In addition to physical shelf presence, how do your products represent on the digital shelf?
- How are your brand teams creating brand communities within your portfolio?
- Have you defined your specific consumer brand relevance and communicated to the retailer?
- How are you illustrating strong consumer connectivity across your brands to the retailer?
- Can you create mutual upside between your brands and the specific retailer?
The nature of a dedicated local supplier team is to create penetrating relationships with the retailer. Relationship development is easier said than done, as personalities vary and often shift between responsibilities. However, not losing sight of what your brands and products represent to your consumer base is critical. At times, retailer strategies misalign with your brand/product strategies causing local business decisions that could potentially disrupt the most important value of your brand/product that, being the connection it has with the consumer. Maintain a strong sense of brand and product positioning.
Not surprising, the foundations of storm protection in our personal lives, is very similar in our business environments.
The day to day tactical exercises required to maintain a local supplier team operation, should also carefully incorporate very specific actions to improve strong family ties (HQ Resources), community connections (Create Brand Communities), and foster an unapologetic commitment to protect the brands and products for the sake of the consumer.
“Fix your roof when the sun is shining” (John F. Kennedy, 1962).
*Senior Director, Walmart Team Lead – Riviana
*Title and company of the author reflect their position at the time article was written.
The opinions expressed here by guest bloggers are their own, not necessarily those of Stout Executive Search.