Is a new trade system a line item on your budget next year?
While a new trade system may only be one line item on your budget for next year, trade spend is likely to be your second largest expense item on your P&L. So, we’d like to share two things for you to consider during your planning efforts.
On average, trade spend represents 20% of a consumer products company’s annual sales, so optimizing these investments is business critical. Based on our trade experience, we know that a decision on which to choose requires the right diligence, approach, and knowledge. According to Gartner, more chief information officers (CIOs) and vice presidents (VPs) of sales are looking to sales & marketing technology to drive incremental growth.
As you budget for your trade system implementation, you may be tempted to cut back on timeline estimates and project resource needs to focus on some of the trendier budget items like machine learning and digital marketing. That would be completely understandable, but the key to a speedy and cost effective implementation is a well-executed vendor selection. Are you already having initial conversations with key stakeholders? Are you ready to hit the ground running and set yourself up for a successful implementation?
Planning for a trade system vendor selection
Are you preparing for a comprehensive vendor selection?
Although a trade promotion system vendor selection is a small part of your thorough project timeline, it is an extremely important process to set up the rest of your project for success. There are over 45 software vendors with trade promotion management (TPM) functionality. Of course, there are a few well-known trade solutions that are likely top of mind like Exceedra and Demantra. There are also niche solutions that you may not be as familiar with which are targeted to specific industries (e.g. FORGE, for food service trade) or integration capabilities (e.g. SAP TPM, with a specific ERP solution).
Getting familiar with all the different trade promotion management providers and understanding the nuances behind the functionality is extremely important to consumer products companies. Whether you are looking for trade promotion management, trade promotion optimization, trade spend efficiency, retail execution, or sales planning functionality, finding the right trade promotion system is not easy.
Knowledge of trade processes, the trade system landscape, understanding of the various capabilities of the vendors, and the capability to articulate your requirements is extremely important in a trade promotion vendor selection process. For example, is your goal to have a solution that addresses TPM and TPO requirements? The choice of a trade system is much bigger than a simple decision matrix.
Enabling Successful Change
Do you know who your key stakeholders are for a successful trade system implementation?
Regardless of who is proposing the new trade system as part of the budget, it is important to involve stakeholders from sales operations and field sales, marketing, finance, and IT. In our experience, using outdated change management practices are the main reason for failed TPM implementations. If you’re thinking about a trade system implementation, change enablement should have already begun. In a well-executed trade system vendor selection key stakeholders and system end users should be involved in your implementation before it even begins.
What external help do you need to start a successful trade system implementation?
If you’ve read this far, you’re likely planning to make an investment in a new trade promotion system soon. This investment requires a lot of time from the organization, which can be hard to manage, particularly since it will involve teams of individuals from outside the trade marketing function.
The vendor selection is just the beginning of your journey when implementing a new trade system or trade promotion management tool. We work with our clients to get the right stakeholders involved early. Getting alignment and buy-in before the implementation starts is a key pillar of success. Hudson Rowland, Trade Expert
You may want consider partnering with outside, unbiased trade expertise during the vendor selection to provide leading-practice perspectives, promote collaboration, and ensure that all cross-functional requirements are understood and accounted for in the selection process. Engaging a partner that is knowledgeable in trade process, your industry, and that has done it before, will help you to:
- facilitate robust requirements gathering
- streamline the vendor research element
- identify the right short-list based on your requirements
- challenge current ways of working based on process and industry expertise
If you’re interested in a complimentary one-hour consultation with a member of our trade team to discuss approach, considerations, and planning for your trade systems project, please contact us.
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Co-author and contributions by Hudson Rowland.