How to Prepare for Trade Promotion Management
By Kurt Kaiser
When you’ve decided to improve trade planning, there are many dynamics to consider. Here are five tips for setting your organization up for success:
Decide what you want to fix and what habits need to be broken. Perhaps obvious, but a common pitfall is jumping straight to a solution. Identify the outcomes that you want to improve and quantify them when possible. These outcomes can include getting the information you are seeking in a faster and easier way, decreasing cycle times, making information more accurate, adding depth to analyses, improving your understanding winning and losing customers, products, and activities, improving prioritization, and negotiating better deals.
In some cases, old habits are hard to break. Some individuals will have a vested interest in the status quo and will resist, complain, and obfuscate… anything they can do to sabotage the transformation. Bad habits need to be identified in planning and you need top-down instruction that they won’t be tolerated anymore.
Determine the resources and investment needed for the initiative. A Trade Promotion Management (TPM) initiative requires investment beyond the fees that you pay to a vendor. Successful implementations include the expertise, work, and time of people representing field sales, sales operations, finance, and information technology (IT) activities. Business teams will need to spend time transforming the way they work.
The project will most likely require resources with the technical ability to enable the extraction and ingestion of information from/to your Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system(s). The project will have a payoff. Don’t underestimate the people time and effort required to:
- Achieve the outcomes you set as goals.
Set a pragmatic timeline. You’ll probably have a date in mind when you would like to be live. Here are a couple rules of thumb to help set reasonable expectations:
- The average time it takes to evaluate a vendor(s) is four months.
- Contract negotiations typically take three to four weeks. Most vendors will not start any work without a signed contract.
- Implementations usually require four to six months of time. Validate your vendor’s implementation guidance by asking references what their experience was.
Quantify the return that you seek from an investment in TPM. The operating expense needed to fund a TPM deployment will mostly likely compete against other initiatives. Given the status of trade spending as a top P&L expense, there shouldn’t be many other projects that can improve profitability as much as TPM. You should be able to easily make your case and get funding approval by quantifying the return on the investment of deploying TPM [(net sales improvement & admin. cost reduction/avoidance – TPM deployment costs)/ (TPM deployment cost)].
Plan the work and work the plan. The executive that approves the investment will most likely play the role of executive sponsor. This individual must champion and prioritize the work. Your vendor will lead you through the implementation, but the members of the project team from your organization play a crucial role in planning and executing the tasks. Empower them to do what they’ve signed up to do. Implementations succeed when everyone is held accountable for their responsibilities.
Deployment, however, is only the first step. Continue to plan and track activities to achieve the outcomes you have set as objectives.
Kurt Kaiser leads business development for AFS Technologies TPM Retail. For more information: www.tpm.afsi.com