We’ve all been there. Nobody likes to be the bearer of bad news.
It happens to every company, every team, and every employee. A goal or a budget was not met. A feature or promotion was lost. Sell-through was poor. Whether it’s communicating internally to your organization or sharing news with your merchandising team, being transparent and forthcoming can be difficult. Yet transparency, both within your own organization and with your retail partners, is a key trait of the best of the best in the supplier community.
Take a step back and look at the big picture for a moment. The large majority of us in the supplier community work to achieve the same objective. Drive sales. We play different roles in achieving this objective. It may be using analysis to identify sales opportunities for your product at Walmart. Maybe it’s maximizing replenishment strategies and aligning internal and customer forecasts. Maybe it is making sure your company has the right products at the right price with the right positioning. We have different responsibilities, but the bottom line is we are all marching towards the same goal.
Now think about your company, specifically your team in Northwest Arkansas. Everyone on your team has a role in contributing to the team’s success: replenishment, analysis, logistics, and sales. Your entire team must understand and embrace the goals of the company, the progress it makes, and the challenges and speedbumps that may prevent the team from achieving those goals. This is why transparency is so important. As a team member, being fully transparent is key. Remember… your team is working towards the same goal.
While each organization is unique and different, so are the methods in which transparency occurs. Some organizations thrive on team meetings, while other organizations publish weekly internal updates. There is not a “one-size-fits-all” method, and different methods work better for different teams. However, a team that is on the same page and informed of goals, objectives and challenges is much more effective than one where individuals are in silos and solely focused on their own responsibilities.
Transparency is not just for internal teams. It is also about building trust externally with your retail partner. Put yourself in the shoes of your merchandising team or counterpart at your customer. Remember, we have the same goals. And while it may not always seem this way, no company is perfect… not even your competitors. Every company has challenges. Your retail partners will appreciate knowing ASAP if an “opportunity” (a.k.a. challenge) exists so that a solution can be achieved. While nobody likes to share bad news with a customer, being transparent can actually build trust and show partnership.
Transparency does not apply solely to “opportunities”. Taking the time to research and share strategic trends in your category is a best practice in the industry. Information is king, and your retailer partners are busier and have more responsibility than ever before. While both supplier and retailer have the same goal of driving sales, establishing and sharing proactive knowledge is what can potentially set your company apart from the rest of your competition.
No matter what role you have in your organization, fostering a culture of transparency is a practice that will favorably impact your team and build trust with your customer. While not always easy, remember challenges occur at every company. The teams that handle challenges quickly, efficiently and in the open, are the teams that will succeed.
*Vice President of Sales, Walmart, Sam’s Club, & Costco – American Textile Company
*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.