Sales Force Merger
During an acquisition or merger Meridian can support clients in the pre and post acquisition phases.
The pre-acquisition phase allows Meridian to conduct an in-depth commercial audit to assess the 'real' trading position with the client's customer base. We can analyse (in more detail than is typically conducted during due diligence) the strength of trading relationships, the trends, the issues, the skills of the sales team and its sales and management processes. We can also examine the robustness of the commercial strategy, outline opportunities to develop profitable revenue and highlight the strategic risks.
The post-acquisition phase can be supported by Meridian in a number of ways. We can integrate systems tools and processes into the current ways of working of the acquiring organisation. We can work with all parts of the organisation to develop a 'Best Practice' way of working that incorporates both parties' methodologies. Alternatively we can help the acquiring company appraise the commercial organisation it has inherited to decide what the integration strategy should be and how it is best implemented.
Benchmarking internal and external performance
Many clients want to conduct an external benchmarking approach to understand how they stack up against the direct competition and the wider community of World Class selling organisations.
Through our extensive network, experience and research methodologies we are able to assist clients with their bespoke benchmarking requirements. Unlike many other functional areas, sales processes, systems and structures are opaque. By its very nature, sensitive commercial data is not readily available in the public domain. Creative solutions are therefore required to answer questions such as:
How do our competitors organise themselves?What are their routes to market?How many sales people do they have?What is their pricing policy?
Internal benchmarking is a very useful tool for measuring and managing differences in KPI's across, countries, divisions, teams or individuals.
Identifying priority investment channels, customers & outlets
All organisations have a finite level of resource, whether that be financial or human, to invest in the trade. There are a number of ways to decide which sales driving activities to invest in and then to determine which channels, customers and stores will offer the best return (ROI).
To decide what to invest in please follow this link on ROI on customer promotional activity (BTL activity)
One way of deciding where to invest this finite resource is to take an 'incremental revenue' perspective to highlight those channels & customers which are most likely to deliver an uplift in sales. Overlaid with data on prices & margins, suppliers can then direct investment to the areas which will provide the best return.
Using a cost-benefit modelling methodology, combined with specific insight relevant only to the particular organisation (brand, consumer / occasion, shopper, trading relationships, etc.) Meridian helps its clients decide which channels to invest in.
Detailed analysis of sales driver compliance using store level EPoS data (such as Asda Retail Link, Tesco TIE, Sainsbury's SID and Waitrose Connect) and audit data combined with delivered margin analysis allows specific customers, outlets and even SKUs to be prioritised.
This can result in a targeted execution plan versus opportunity that may for example drive dynamic field coverage to focus on known non-compliant stores on a particular promotion as opposed blanket 'belt and braces' coverage to support a promotion.
To find out how you can benchmark your approach to maximising ROI on Trade Investments at outlet level, or your in-house or 3rd party field operations against CPG best practice click here
Developing a sales plan to support aggressive revenue or market share targets
The objectivity that Meridian brings to its clients and the lack of any 'turf to protect', allows us to really help clients understand what could be done to grow the top line.
Meridian takes a holistic approach to developing revenue. No single item will have a significant impact on its own. We try to help our clients achieve is a step change in results by developing a sales plan that challenges current thinking, and support new ideas with a data informed approach. "What really drives the rate of sale of our product?" is a challenge that is often thrown at us and one that has been successfully answered in a variety of assignments across the world.
Should the data not exist to support hypotheses on what drives sales, we have helped our clients run tests to gather the data. Sometimes this is required, especially if there is a significant capital outlay needed to make the proposition work. At other times manager's experience and judgement may suffice.
Meridian is keen not just to develop the plan, but unlike other consultants, we are keen to assist in the implementation as well.
Determining the right size and type of resource required
Our experience has shown us that many organisations have a less than robust methodology for determining why they have their current size of sales force. Numbers are often historical and the budgeting process can reinforce this historical perspective by dictating that this year's headcount must be x% higher or lower than last year's.
Meridian is concerned with helping clients determine the RIGHT size of sales resource. By using a data informed approach, Meridian can develop a business case for supporting the right headcount (whether that be a reduction, maintenance of the current status or indeed an increase) by taking a 'customer up' approach. We analyse what activities and tasks are required, not only to acquire new customers but also to penetrate and retain existing ones. By working with the client we are then able to overlay management judgement and produce a cost benefit analysis to support the business case for a specific sales force size and shape.
Often we have produced a model to enable our clients to develop 'what if?' scenarios around different route to market and headcount models.
Sales incentive / commission schemes or pay plan
Meridian believes that an effective sales incentive, commission scheme or pay plan is one that drives and rewards behaviors& actions which support the achievement of business results.
We are confident that the majority of our clients or prospective clients would concur with this philosophy. Yet on numerous occasions, when we have analysed our client's schemes, rewards are given regardless or results. Even worse, sometimes behaviors are rewarded that are directly opposed to the achievement of the business strategy.
Incentive schemes can only be designed when the organisation understands the links between activities and results. If this understanding is missing the impact of a scheme will not be understood. Meridian spends time helping clients understand this link and then developing a scheme that will drive the right behaviors. Communicating and reporting on the scheme are also vital elements. It must be simple to understand and simple to administer. Sales people need to now how the scheme works and how they are doing at any moment in time.
Meridian can also advise on what proportions should be rewarded on short and long term schemes. Whilst the business may operate on quarterly or yearly objectives, it will only achieve this if sales people achieve their daily objectives. This balance needs to be reflected.
click here to find out more about Meridian's approach to constructing tailored incentive schemes.
Managing the channel, distributors, agents & third parties
When an organisation takes its product or service to market using an indirect route there are often obvious strategic and fixed cost advantages. If there is an exclusivity of relationship on both sides this may make the relationship even more advantageous. However, the relationship between supplier and outsourced sales force must be based on delegation not abdication.
Sales management's responsibilities remain the same as with a wholly owned sales force. Recruitment, retention, motivation, development, planning, measurement, management and remuneration are all just as relevant. In one sense it is harder because there is no 'line' relationship, it is one of influence and partnership.
Meridian works with many of its clients to ensure that channel, distributor, agent and third party sales effectiveness are all at optimum levels.