158. Skills for Partnering Gazelle Accounts

Net-Profit Gazelles?

Amongst your most net-profitable accounts, find the ones that have also been growing their sales, margin, and profit dollars fastest (year-over-year). These are “Gazelles”. Partner them better to increase your odds that they will continue to grow you for years.

Skills for Better Partnering?

Reps can’t do partnering on their own. Bigs typically herd reps into seeing buyers in silos with narrow agendas and metrics (like “price”). You must pitch the customer honcho who can see and change the overall procurement process.  

But, VPs of Supply Chain generally don’t talk to reps. They do welcome, though, vendor honchos: especially those bearing supply-chain solutions, savvy, and purse,  to co-invest in new solutions. Who is your empowered, resource-investing, “VP of Supply-Chain Solutions” (VP-SCS)?

A CEO’s Experimental Journey

In another blog (link below), a CEO more than doubled the sales and profits of a monster account. To then develop a VP-SCS to pitch other top net-profit accounts, we wrote down the following easier-than-they-sound skills:  

  1. Be enough of a systems thinker to embrace order-size economics and customer net-profitability rankings. Some managers resist cost-to-serve results to protect their status quo.    
  2. Be a process-improver. The replenishment process that exists with each big customer is unique at the line-item/SKU activity level. These relationships vary widely in their hidden, unnecessary costs that can’t be known with just financial (aggregated) numbers. Cost-to-serve analytics can, however, pinpoint activities to fix for win-win savings.  
  3. Be a patient, pre-visit analyst and agenda creator. Dig into each customer’s cost-to-serve analytics to write down questions about inefficiencies. Explore these questions further during walk-through audits of customer facilities.   
  4. Be an open-minded, curious observer during walk-throughs to uncover the human, root causes for inefficiencies.   
  5. For fixes, be a co-creative brainstormer with customer honchos. Borrow and adapt fixes from other customers and distribution channels.   
  6. Be empowered to assure the customer VP on the spot that they will get the credit for improvements. Without lifting a finger, or writing a check. No: “Let me now go get approval for these proposals.” 
  7. Be able to orchestrate the subsequent installing, measuring, tuning, and proactive maintaining of all fixes.  
  8. Be able to ask for more business identified during the audit. 
  9. And, if need be, co-create an open-book solution as McDonald’s distributors do.

For More on Partnering Gazelles

Blog #24: “CEO Call Wins Big”

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