- Senior Vice President - Electronic Arts
- General Manager Americas Publishing
- 25 years of delivering revenue and profit across North America
- Grew North American Sales Revenue from $50M to $2B at EA
- Supplier-of-the-Year and Vendor-of-the-Year awards from Wal-Mart, Target, Toys R Us
- Additional Channel Partners: Amazon, Best Buy, GameStop
- All 7 Best Practices
- Pre-Meeting Discovery Process
- One-on-One Call with Expert
- Meeting Summary Report
- Post-Meeting Engagement
Channel Partner Management
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.
- Identify the market and know exactly who the consumer is. Identify the age, the gender the complete demographic for your consumer. Paint a vivid portrait.
- Identify the competition and the scale of your competitor’s investment in their product. Know their distribution and their long-term liability around the experience that their product offers.
- Identify the long-term viability of the product you are selling. For example, if your product is a toy, understand that your audience is children who tend to be very fickle. Understand the risks involved with your offering.
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:
- The cost of the product and its margin.
- Cooperative advertising, i.e. how much you will co-invest with the retailer for advertising of your product.
- Return privileges if the product does not sell.
- Other fees and requirements, for example a slotting fee to get the product on the shelf (prevalent in the food industry).
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:
- Doing your homework and knowing your consumer and market.
- Developing strong, strategic relationships with retailers.
- Knowing the internal sales structure, given your market and stage of growth, that will drive successful sales results.