- Account management personnel need to ensure there is a focus on the value you bring to the customer, not just on the price of the deal on the table being negotiated, or the person currently filling the buying role.
- Do not allow the costs of doing business with a customer to overwhelm the investment needed in your consumers and the brand benefits you deliver to them. Retailers are not good marketers for you, they are interested in their brand, not yours.
- Maintain as many personal relationships and points of contact as possible by engaging as many people in your business as possible with their peers in the customers business. Particularly valuable are relationships around service provision and logistics, removed from the negotiating battlefield.
- Be proactive in all things, rather than reactive.
- Be prepared to say “no”, and be able to do so without damaging the ongoing relationship, rarely easy to do, just easy to say, but it must be done to maintain a sustainable negotiating position that leaves you with appropriate margin. Many businesses have gone broke being “successful” with customers with whom they have little leverage.
The churn of employees in large companies often creates difficulties in retaining a continuity of relationship with customers. This particularly happens in situations where a buyer has substantial market power, such as a large retailer.
How do you build a relationship in these circumstances where the buyers get rotated on a regular basis, and there is usually a very active competitive environment for the attention of the buyer currently in the chair ?