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Concurrent sessions: Building solid trading partner relationships

Posted By Anna Curtis, Tuesday, September 20, 2011
Updated: Tuesday, September 20, 2011
Ties that Sell: Building Strong Trading Partner Relationships

Moderator: Mike Gorsche, Partner, Accenture
Mike Brooks, Senior Director, Dry Grocery, Target Corporation
Barb Hartman, Founder, GoBeyond
Tiffany Menyhart, Director of Sales, Kroger, The Wrigley Company
Teresa Christensen Senior Buyer of Dry Grocery
Kimberly Senter, Global Customer Category Director for Skin

Audience members hear from both sides of partnerships between leading manufacturers/retailers, on how to build outstanding collaborations.

Barb Hartman kicks off the session with a dose of her own advice: "When the right people come together in the right companies, there are going to be some magical results. You need to start thinking about the relationships in your company that need the most building.”

Mike Brooks of Kroger, who closely collaborates with Tiffany Menyhart of Wrigley's, talks about how this type of partnership is a journey… One that requires integrity, honesty and respect. "Do we always agree? No. But we do have trust in one another and a great deal of mutual respect.”

Brooks goes through his quick-list of reasons why great collaboration is critical:

1.) It creates added value.
2.) It means 1 + 1 can equal 3.
3.) You need sustainable growth.

In Brooks' eyes, you need transformational, long-term measures and joint business planning with  retailers and manufacturers. "Think big into the future.”

The light banter between Brooks and Menyhart suggests they've both laid a solid foundation for a good and successful business relationship. "We both take responsibility. When you say you’re going to do something, you need to follow through on it," Menyhart says.

Brooks agrees. "I think the key things are contract accuracy, service level, trade spend, matching up with the basic retailer needs. That together builds credibility.”

Other advice from the two? Stay accountable to the joint business plan. Align yourselves with your plan in the beginning and make sure you have senior level support.

"And when you do achieve success, you need to celebrate it, all the way across the board,” Menyhart says.

Teresa Christensen of Target collaborates with Kimberly Senter of Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream, and knows that you have to "understand each other, know who is at the table and what matters to each of you."

Christensen and Senter present five tips for selling game-changing ideas:   

1.) Show that your ideas are open to modifications.  
2.) Captivate, then explain.   
3.) Take note of the positive points.   
4.) Prioritize by capturing the biggest road blocks as well as possible solutions.   
5.) Summarize to confirm alignment of ideas and goals.

"We at Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream are centered around three different ideas: wanting people to feel good, inspiring people to make small actions today that’ll turn out to have a positive impact on the environment later, and also growing our business and creating products that are socially responsible," Senter says. She says you should bring key decision makers together. "It’s not just about one person; you have to all work together in order to gain success.” 

The process of trading partnerships is dynamic and ever changing. Set goals, understand what success looks like and then research to figure out what clear, measured goals you need to go about accomplishing success.

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