Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Selling hoisted by its own petard? - The new power of Modern Buying

There is a line given to Hamlet by Shakespeare:

"For tis the sport to have the enginer Hoist with his owne petar".

The phrase is often cited as 'hoist by one's own petar[d]'. A petard was a small engine of war used to blow breaches in gates or walls. The significant feature was that they were full of gunpowder - basically a bomb. The device was used by the military forces of all the major European fighting nations by the 16th century and was highly successful but it could 'backfire'.
Salespeople as with military engineers, should be careful with their instruments of success.

A salutary lesson which might well resonate with a number of Key Account Development Execs, Dealer/Distributor Managers and the like, who follow this blog cropped up in Marketing Week magazine 27th January 2011 in the column by marketing insider the "Secret Marketer" (SM).

Our clandestine hero is currently doing the rounds with his account executives for shared brand planning meetings with the highly influential top four retailers in the UK.
" We share our our brand plan with retailers and they then tell us how much it is going to cost to secure their participation".
SM goes on to describe how such meetings are linked in with the "over rider" structure, whereby brands have to write a further cheque at the end of the year for doing very little more than what they had already promised to do..

SM wrote that certain bonus compliance metrics include such 'challenging' items as the retailer actually selling the products in the sames number of stores as the head office had promised, and affording the brand supplier the privilege of implementing a number of price cut promotions where the supplier fully funds the discount on offer. ( Money for old rope as some might view it)
SM was somewhat miffed to then experience how the retailer in the meeting re-interpreted what he saw ( from a brand supplier's perspective) as success clearly due to identifiable new packaging design which had brought about the entire growth in the category sector in a very well established brand that he represented.

Unabashed the Buyer agreed that her figures were indeed the same as the suppliers and then unashamedly said
" Yes I have to say it has been a good year for this brand. We have grown it for you by a third. (!) You do understand that we need to agree some kind of compensation to reflect the growth we have delivered for you."

To further rub salt into the wound......

When the supplier moved on in their presentation to the introduction of new products the buyer advised that she did not wish to try any of the products, but would list them anyway if the supplier agreed to a further cheque!

Success here it seemed had many parents!

The story also illustrates the part that leadership skills play in selling today.

As the great communist leader of China, Mao Tse Tung ( Zedong) once said

" When a good leader has finished his work, his people will say "We did it ourselves".

So also it appears it is with buyers perhaps - they will seldom credit success with the supplier salesperson

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