There are three truths you should know about account-specific business marketing:
1. It's a prerequisite for survival in the consumer packaged goods industry today.
2. Your competitors are already doing it and your customers already expect you to be on board.
3. It means more than just retraining your sales force. Account-specific business marketing means rethinking and refocusing every aspect of your business operations. And if that makes you think twice about reading further, please see points 1 and 2 above.
For the consumer packaged goods industry, account-specific business marketing, or ASBM, is a vital component of the success equation these days. It deals with integrating account-specific thinking into your business culture and making it part of every aspect of your operation, from the boardroom to the back room. The cookie-cutter, one-size-fits-all approach to sales will no longer work in today's market. Your customers are facing an increasingly diversified consumer market that demands specialized marketing and promotional efforts. ASBM is a dynamic new type of marketing that requires a strong working relationship between the manufacturer and the retailer -- a relationship that recognizes the sales goals and marketing efforts of both companies. ASBM focuses on developing unified marketing strategies to benefit both your bottom line and the account's.
The first step in creating this relationship is to understand your own business. The second step is to understand your customer's business.
Understanding your company means, in part, learning about the specific issues that affect how well your company can service a particular account by leveraging your value-added products, services and programs.
Understanding your accounts means having complete, up-to-date account profiles, understanding how they go to market, knowing how you measure up to the accounts, and knowing what they think are important issues.
Conceptually, ASBM is rather simple: understand the need and fill it. But this approach requires a fundamental change in focus for most consumer products companies, a change from the narrow focus on internal brand goals to a broader focus that considers the account's business situation as well. As a result, you may need to modify existing programs to be more flexible, allowing them to be custom-tailored to meet different account situations.
ASBM is too complex and too powerful a marketing tool to send your sales force out with inadequate, or worse, no training. A sales training program should grow out of an intrinsic understanding of your company's culture, organization, needs, problems and potential.
Robert F. Monaghan Jr. is executive vice president of Dechert-Hampe, a sales and marketing firm based in Trumbull, Conn.