Subscriber login Close [x]
remember me
You are not logged in.

It's good to talk!

Published:  18 January, 2007

So, Vinexpo is over for another two years the airline check in tickets have been discarded, the buses ferrying the great and good of the international wine trade from Vinexpo, to Chateau dinner, to hotel, have reverted to ferrying the local Bordeaux community about their business, and the might of the UK wine trade, in all its guises, has trudged back to the UK, via such illustrious routes as Luton and Stanstead and was it all worth it? I wonder?

I occasionally despair at the blinkered approach that some take about our Industry today like it or not, regardless of the pressures on margin, ever-increasing demands, and balance of power, retailers are here to stay and the sooner suppliers take their heads out of the sand, and face start to take stock of the situation, the better.

What are the key, driving forces on which the buyer focuses from day to day - availability, budgets, sales and profit targets, pricing, competitive advantage, promotions, range need I go on; quite simply the difference in the buyer/supplier relationship is that in many cases the Account manager has one of two key accounts to manage, and will spend their entire time focussing on thisthey cannot understand why the buyer does not return calls, why they cannot get appointments at short notice, why the buyer does not want a 2 hour presentation on latest brand development plans. The buyer, on the other hand, is dealing, not only with every element of the buying, retailing and category management mix, including the politics, internal meetings and inevitable reports, and working systems of a large operation, but is attempting to manage a wide supplier base. So it should come as no surprise that supplier consolidation is high on the agenda for any buyer.. doing more business with fewer people, not only makes commercial sense, it saves time too.

And it is time that is of the essence for buyers, and it has amazed me for years that many account managers are not being more proactive in making the buyer's life easier, because ultimately, this is what they need.

As a buyer, a supplier who understood, not only what I needed to hit my targets and deadlines, but also made it their business to understand, engage and communicate with all the key people within Somerfield, with whom I needed to interact to ensure implementation not just of plans and strategy, but in running the day job, was a breath of fresh air.

Give buyers the answers, before they have to ask the questions - work with their teams, make the daily call to the logistics manager, to the Buyer's assistant - anything you , as sales teams can do to alleviate the pressure on the buyer will be viewed as an enormous positive.

So my message is clear ..spend time learning to understand your customer, and their business. Talk to them, not at themfewer powerpoint presentations, more direct communication of how you can interface, understand their pressures, and take some of the pain! I know this is two-way traffic, and that buyers need to understand suppliers better toohowever, written from my perspective, sales teams can take big steps forward in this scenario, by proactively working to understand their accounts better.