Selling Through Someone Else: How to Use Agile Sales Networks and Partners to Sell More

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We believe consumer goods companies must look to new areas for answers, forging deeper, more collaborative relationships with a much broader ecosystem that includes partners, suppliers, vendors, co-developers and even competitors. In doing so, they can build a sales capability that is much more flexible, adaptable and responsive—evolving as necessary to meet the needs of customers in both established and new markets. We call this agile selling.

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Of course, consumer goods manufacturers long have relied on channel partners to reach their customers. Agile selling takes indirect selling to a new level of collaboration characterized by several key practices. For instance, companies that have embraced agile selling often excel at applying analytics to understand the effectiveness of specific channels and routes to market, and to ensure that each step and partner in the sales process may contribute to ROI.

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With more end customers embracing digital channels, agile selling proponents excel at creating compelling online experiences—and often use digital channels as well as other techniques to more deeply engage intermediaries and customers. These capabilities enable leaders to implement a variety of sales-related innovations that help them extend their reach and capitalize on new growth opportunities.

Build multiple routes to market: Consumer goods leaders have become extremely adept at selling through various types of distribution. In emerging markets, top manufacturers are more likely to use numerous channels, some of which have been orchestrated in-house field sales, direct store delivery, van selling and others through third parties or multiple parties distributors, wholesalers, independents.

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Constantly measure sales effectiveness: Leaders have processes and systems that provide accurate windows into what is happening at the point of sale. On the technology side, new POS-analysis capabilities help leaders refine product mixes, devise better sales forecasts, enhance supply chain execution, assess promotional effectiveness and improve overall category management.

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Maximize availability: Better data captured in the field or supplied by a channel partner is helping leaders make significant improvements in product availability. More often than not, companies that excel at rapidly and accurately interpreting retail sales trends, quantifying the impact of a particular trade promotion, and understanding when and under what conditions out-of-stocks occur also are highly adept at determining and adjusting inventory and replenishment levels. The net effect is generally higher availability without higher costs. They also are using more-sophisticated tools to collaborate more tightly with channel partners, formulate promotional activities, justify expenditures and identify optimal spend levels within categories.

Increase direct-to-consumer communication: Consumer goods leaders often are pioneers in embracing new communication channels with shoppers and consumers.

As one example: These companies were among the first to provide digital couponing and vouchers that are redeemable in-store. The consumer goods industry has always had to deal with globalization, more complex distribution channels, and strong competition.

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Out of necessity, manufacturers have become adept at structuring channels and partner relationships in ways that enhance their reach and profitability. But given the rapid and far-reaching changes taking root in global markets, that may no longer be enough. By adopting agile selling, consumer goods companies can capitalize on the next step in the evolution of the indirect channel model—and, in the process, develop the capabilities that can help them find and capitalize on growth opportunities, wherever they may be.

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Optimizing Human Flow in the Beauty Industry. Betting on BEMT. Common Mistakes That Damage Hair. Regardless, even the most advanced companies in this area would be the first to acknowledge that they have a long way to go to perfect their approach to working with IDNs, which begs the question: Is there a perfect IDN commercial model solution to strive for?

Instead, companies need to put mechanisms in place that allow them to remain flexible and adaptive, continue learning about their customers, and make improvement tweaks to make continual, incremental success.

Selling Through Someone Else: How to Use Agile Sales Networks and Partners to Sell More

So far, agile strategy examples include not only leveraging an early experience team approach i. Another agile strategy supports better market data: Some companies are using crowdsourced input from their KAM team to get updates on key underlying data elements that feed into segmentation models.

This lets management know of changing IDN attitudes, strategies and structures in real time, which can then inform updated IDN selling or marketing strategies and tactics.