Bringing packaged products to market is a series of steps. Missing a step can be fatal. The first step is to know your market and your competitors.
After these preliminaries, it is necessary to approach channel partners with a clear presentation of your product that tells a story. A new product must appear to retailers as thoroughly consumer-tested, with a clear account of how consumers will use the product and what their needs and behaviors around it will be.
Assuming retailers are now prepared to do business, there are a number of elements involved with negotiating an agreement with retailers including:
In today’s market, building strategic partnerships with channel partners is crucial. For example, some suppliers are locating groups near the headquarters of large retailers such as Target and Wal-Mart. They are creating sales, marketing and data analysis groups on-location to partner closely with these large retailers to co-market products. Some suppliers are using the retailer as an extension of their own marketing campaigns giving a portion of their advertising spend to retailers to advertise their product along with the retailer’s brand.
Another factor in sustaining long-term sales growth is to have a healthy, vibrant sales force that is contributing to all aspects of the company. To organize sales and marketing into a more integrated, effective organization, some companies are instituting a sales planning function that owns the complete data set around an offering and connects product marketers with the sales force. Other organizations are creating a C-level revenue executive to lead and coordinate the revenue-generating engine.
Effective channel partner management depends widely on the age, size and maturity of your company and your market. For example, consumables play a very different game from entertainment products. However, some general principles and guidelines that apply across industries include: