MARKETING & SALES

PARTNER RELATIONSHIP MODEL

Definition or revision of the indirect channel strategy, operating model and distribution network with the goal of improving cooperation, efficiency and sales.

What challenge(s) do our clients face?

How to create win-win relationships with partners which deliver strategic alignment, close visibility, control and mutual financial incentives.

For many businesses, the Go-to-Market model must incorporate intermediaries, usually in order to reach fragmented channels or to take advantage of the specific execution capabilities of partners. Indirect partners such as franchises, distributors, wholesalers and brokers can provide a seemingly perfect solution to improve one’s distribution cost efficiently and with an optimized service level to clients where a direct sales model is not feasible.

However, working with partners in this manner, isn’t always easy and in fact it can lead to issues in execution standards, concurrence between channels or prices control.

. The challenges in operating with this channel vary from:

  • Defining a Clear Indirect Channel Strategy – understanding the role, capability and business objectives in the Indirect Channel.
  • Redesigning the Network: having a highly competent network across geographies and channels.
  • Quality Partner Selection: developing appropriate selection criterions to choose the best type of intermediaries per region and channel.
  • Optimizing the Modus Operandi with Partners: ensuring alignment in strategy, results delivery and execution standards through management processes and programs, performance KPIs and incentives.
  • Clear Roles and Responsibilities: connecting the sales roles, distributor managers and merchandisers to the strategy through clearly defined boundaries of responsibility.

When it comes to working with partners, the real challenge is to find win-win scenarios which consider the forces, needs, strengths and interests of each party. Each party must play a role that suits its abilities and desires if there is a chance of creating long-lasting partnerships.

How do we help?

We support either in ‘greenfield projects’ (providing a turnkey solution from strategy to deployment) or in ‘resets’ (adjusting the strategy or operations, both internally and externally with the partner network)

We support our clients in two distinct situations:

Our methodology supports our clients to: Revamp the strategy Identify sales and financial opportunities in the indirect channel Assess the current partner network and draw practical improvement plans for each partner Revise both internal and external processes of the partners relationship model Companies already operating in the indirect channel and looking for improvements Our methodology supports our clients in: Clarifying its strategy and objectives with the indirect channel Drawing the ideal network of partners based on the client’s needs Identifying and assessing prospects Structuring of the team and processes needed to serve the indirect channel Definition of the relationship model with the future network. Companies that do not yet operate in the indirect channel and are looking to start from a solid basis

What are the benefits?

  • Sales performance: Improve sales result and performance in selling products across the whole portfolio
  • Increase distribution: Reach numerical distribution targets
  • Increase profitability: Optimize financial results in the indirect channel, which usually are below the company average
  • Optimizing SLAs: Improvement in S&OP processes by reducing stock outage and excess inventory
  • Cross channel stabilization: Guarantee sell-out control and avoid price competition between channels or partners
  • Visibility & analytics: Ensure a holistic view of the company market share and sales performance through sell-out visibility
  • Store execution standard: Guarantee an adequate execution and activation for each type of POS, thus improving trade marketing investment efficiency
  • Network stability: Reduce turnover in the partner network, strengthen long-term relationships and partner loyalty

How does it work?

Modular and bespoke solutions fit for your context

Each client has its unique context, objectives, and needs with the indirect channel. We combine your knowledge of your business, Integration’s expertise of the Indirect Channel, and a methodology that ensures a holistic tackling of all issues.

Our methodology is structured in three steps during which we bring to focus the key questions to be answered in order to build a unique solution adapted to the client:

1 1 2 3 The key word in this stage is need”: What are our real needs in terms of the indirect channel? DEFINING THE MODEL STRATEGY 2 The key question in this stage is: Is our current partner network actually meeting our needs? DIAGNOSING AND ANALYZING THE NETWORK 3 SETTING THE MANAGEMENT MODEL AND MODUS OPERANDI On the qualitative side, next comes an in-depth market scan, an analysis of categories and channel dynamics for defining key success factors and an evaluation of sales performance per region. This starts by translating corporate and company necessities into concrete and realistic objectives, answering questions such as: What market segments can we serve indirectly and how big is the market? What profile and competences should our distribution partners possess? How many partners do we need? A number of considerations can provide greater clarity on this: Now comes the partnership” part: Working with partners is about more than objectives and needs. Is the profile and size of our partners suited to our strategy? How can we improve the performance of our network? Are our partners financially able and willing to match our growth ambitions? Answering these can be done by evaluating operational competency, sales, finances, culture etc. and comparing these with the rest of the network and other channels through market standards and benchmarks. This is also about fulfilling your share of responsibilities and helping your partners so that you can achieve your mutual goals together. This step addresses questions such as: What are the rights and duties of each party? How can we ensure best practices in partners and manage excellence programs? What processes and KPIs do we need to have in place? One best practice in this regard involves building alignment and empowerment among teams by organizing consecutive multi-functional workshops, laying a path for smoother implementation. Diagnosing and analyzing the network Defining the model strategy Setting the management model and modus operandi

Ensuring connection to all stakeholders along this journey:

A PRM is a transformational experience that will include not only the commercial area but also the rest of the company. The financial area is involved in cross-channel price policy, supply is affected by service level requirements, marketing has a say in the coordination with partners, legal is involved in the contracts and terms of the partnership, HR guarantees the right skills in the management team and so on.

Our way of working guarantees through workshops, newsletters, weekly governance, and involvement of a multifunctional team that all areas of the company have their needs recognized and answered by the project, thus generating a positive expectation and engagement in the whole company. We do not want the project to be considered “one-shot” and therefore we aim to build up internal competency through training and capability development so you can achieve sustainable results. Our aim is to deliver you a clear and practical roadmap for action and to develop your skills to maintain continuous improvement processes.

And even beyond your company, the PRM will also affect your partners. Therefore, we ensure from day one that their needs and benefits are considered in the project and that the recommendation sets the base for a strong partnership, which is paramount for long-term success.

SUCCESS STORIES

CHALLENGE

The Global Head of Sales of a leading Energy Drink manufacturer saw its local units each managing their distributor network in their own way, assuming different decision-making processes and indicators. This was causing visibility issues and unequal results between countries and difficulties in implementing global guidelines. The client reached out to Integration to support the development of a tailor-made methodology to define and standardize the indirect network globally.

APPROACH

We collected and analyzed the complete record of all countries distributors contracts and management models. A guidebook was created to define: (i) the ideal distributor profile, (ii) how to evaluate current distributors and how to replace a distributor not meeting the minimum parameters, (iii) how to establish an overlapped network of On-premise and off-premise distributors and (iv) how to evaluate the relationship management processes.

RESULT

Our successful efforts to involve and empower the client’s global team in the methodology construction led them to successfully implement this new standardized model in 10+ countries across different continents. The model provided the ability to compare performance across countries in the central leadership team, whilst allowing for flexibility to meet the local reality.

CHALLENGE

A Leading Personal Care manufacturer operating in the indirect channel with both exclusive distributors and wholesalers was having difficulties with internal cross-channel conflicts and sought to increase its numeric distribution up to the level of its main competitor.

APPROACH

Our first step was identifying the true root cause of underlying performance issues. Through in-depth sales and category analysis we were able to identify that the biggest opportunity was not in distribution but in drop size, a problem that could be resolved by increasing the number of categories sold per PoS.

Once this problem had been overcome, region, channel and category specificities and competitive context were analyzed to define the ideal indirect model for the client, mostly focused on exclusive distributors. A methodology was created for competency and performance evaluation of each distributor, which was performed jointly by Integration and the client team after training.

RESULT

Based on this evaluation, improvement plans were designed for 50% of the network and we supported the client with identifying suitable replacements in specific regions/channels for the 20% of cases in which a new partner was required.

We supported with an implementation plan, identifying key success factors and action plans in a range of topics such as commercial policy, sales team routine, distributors management processes and information systems.

CHALLENGE

An international cement producer launched a revision of its Go-to-Market strategy based on the thesis that its main growth driver laid in the indirect channel. The client sought our help in determining the best way to approach the indirect market – what service model to use, which companies to partner with etc.

APPROACH

The first step was an in-depth analysis of the market size and composition per region, type of cement use, size of end user company and client drivers for decision making in the purchasing process (e.g. technical specs vs price).

This provided valuable market insights, identified key growth drivers and highlighted financial opportunities in certain geographical regions. For example, we identified that 50% of the market were small stores receiving on average smaller drop sizes than what the client was historically able to deliver in a profitable manner. This provided the client with a clear opportunity to grow through delivering small drop sizes in a cost-effective manner in this highly fragmented market.

Subsequently, multiple cross-industry reference cases were studied to define a brand-new indirect model combining exclusive distribution, brokers and logistics operators that would be best suited to tackle both financial and growth drivers.

RESULT

A tailor-made methodology was created alongside the client’s experts to evaluate the operational competency of 172 potential partners, leading to the selection of 70 best-suited to their needs.

In order to guarantee the new model implementation, we structured an exclusive service area for the whole country with a fully defined indirect management model. This included a contract model, remuneration model, new distributor manager routine and training, and the creation of a 150+ page Distributor Excellency Program manual, written in collaboration with the network’s best-in-class partners and covering all operational aspects of the new hybrid model.

CHALLENGE

A major international beverage producer which was a market leader across the country faced a specific challenge of poor performance in the countryside and out of the main consumption centers. In response to this challenge, the client asked Integration for support in complimenting their GTM with a specific indirect channel solution.

APPROACH

The client had struggled to identify an ‘invisible’ performance gap due to the lack of audited market information for the countryside. So, our differential, in this case, was to adapt our PRM methodology to the client’s unique situation, starting with a market scan aimed at understanding the root cause of the issue.

With multiple visits along with the client’s team in remote cities from several regions, we were able to quantify the performance gap and understand the key success factors that were required for this specific market. This led to the creation of a new franchised micro-distributor model suited to attend countryside market expectations and the client’s objectives.

RESULT

A turnkey solution for a swift implementation was created, with +200 distribution franchises successfully opened in a few years. The client was able to successfully revert a long-term trend of years of erosion of its leader situation and even achieved a small countrywide gain in market share– a significant result considering their already strong leadership position.

OUR INDUSTRY EXPERIENCE

Our PRM methodology is one of our most applied solutions and we have had the pleasure of supporting clients from across diverse industries of Consumer Goods (such as Food, Beverages, Health, Beauty & Personal Care), Pharmaceuticals and the Industrial Sector (such as Construction materials and Chemicals) in many different countries (Brazil, Latin Americas, USA, Europe).

This track record enables us to mobilize benchmarks and best practices adapted to your unique needs and to share learnings from industries that share your concerns and doubts. Our references cover international companies as well as national/regional players and include household names such as Nivea, Diageo, L’Oréal, Red Bull, Danone, Kraft Heinz, Philips Medical Devices, Mosaic, InterCement, Gerdau.

TALK TO US

Bruno Torres

Bruno Torres is an engagement manager at Integration and has worked in the Marketing & Sales Practice since 2017. Prior to Integration, Bruno worked as a software developer in Canada. At Integration, he has mostly participated in go-to-market strategies in various industries, including pulp & paper, agro, B2B services, steel, consumer goods, hygiene & beauty, [...]

Guido Solari

Guido Solari is a partner at Integration and the head of our LATAM offices. Guido joined the company in 2006 and is part of the Marketing & Sales Practice. He has carried out over 250 projects across Latin America, North America and Europe, serving clients in the areas of mass consumer goods, agribusiness, pharmaceuticals, media [...]

Luis Bernal

Luis Bernal is a senior manager in the Marketing & Sales Practice. Originally from Columbia, Luis is an entrepreneur at heart, and has worked in several start-ups in Colombia, receiving his MBA from IPADE. He has accumulated international consulting experience whilst working across the United States, Mexico, Caribbean and Central America, Colombia and Brazil in [...]

Roger Saltiel

Roger Saltiel is a partner at Integration and has been working since 2002 in the Marketing & Sales practice. Considered an authority in the Indirect Channel and Partner Relationship Management (PRM), he is a member of the Associação Brasileira de Atacadistas e Distribuidores (ABAD) [Brazilian Association of Wholesalers and Distributors], working in the leadership of [...]

Vinicius Olivo

Vinicius Olivo is a director and brings a broad and deep understanding of our Marketing & Sales solutions since having joined Integration in 2011. He supported leading national and international organizations in Retail and Consumer Goods in building sustainable competitive advantage. His project experience ranges from Go-to-Market models, Market Scans, Customer Segmentation, Category Management and [...]

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