If you want to have a meaningful ongoing relationship with Wal-Mart, you are going to establish a presence in Bentonville, Arkansas. This means hiring a local sales staff and a retail marketing group that supports the parallel activities within Wal-Mart.
The aim is to get to know your marketing partner as well as the other people who support them. In many cases, suppliers are also locating an on-site analytics team that dissects all the data gathered from the retailer to build a case for what they should be purchasing.
Companies are now making multi-pronged marketing investment decisions. Sophisticated suppliers of products are convincing their marketing partners at their companies to make a significant, targeted investment in a retailer, for example for the holiday season.
A large retailer such as a Wal-Mart or a Target is going to buy more, they are going to display the item prominently, they are going to set up an end cap and more. Large retailers have extended resources – for example, they may have an ad agency that will echo the marketing themes of the manufacturer's product.
In some markets, retailers are looking for a few blockbusters rather than a large product portfolio with a few large sellers and a range of also-rans. A more targeted set of new products means offerings that are easier to plan, easier to purchase, easier to merchandise, and easier to market.
If a company has a product line that has essentially the same offering in ten different colors, it is best to focus on the five colors that are the top sellers and let the other five go. In some categories, less is definitely more.
Many companies are organizing their sales and marketing organizations under a C-Level sales chief: a chief revenue officer (CRO). The CRO is tasked with P&L responsibilities with a level of independence from the executive staff. Delegating leadership responsibility to a CRO promises to improve foresight and planning and to offer better coordination around investments and results.
The CRO serves as a central gathering point for information and decision-making with respect to sales and marketing. This sales chief is a dedicated leader, positioned to track the viability of a product going to market, its marketing budget and whether that product is going to justify its budget.
In many markets, the marketing team is responsible for introducing products while the sales organization owns the relationships that surround the products that are in the marketplace. Sales planning is a function that connects the two. Sales planning owns the data around the product - the history of the product’s performance over a period of five years.
The planners responsible for Clorox Bleach know that there’s a season for bleach, that there is a promotional window for the product, and that there needs to be an investment during a certain time of the year when sales volume is expected to hit a certain level. Sales planning is the glue that keeps the marketing organization and the sales organization on task.