Welcome to The eCommerce Experience - the podcast that turns YOU into an eCommerce expert. Your host, Andrew Rogencamp, shares his wealth of B2B and B2C business experience to take you on an eCommerce adventure.

Each month you'll hear from industry experts and meet people just like you - looking to take their business to new heights online.


 

Andrew Rogencamp: Welcome to the latest episode of The eCommerce Experience. My name is Andrew Rogencamp, and I'm here to bring you all I can about eCommerce, both in B2B and B2C. 

So, this month, what we're going to do is talk to a chap called Paul Munkley. And I've worked with Paul before, and he's one of those guys that has had a senior role in both sales and marketing. And of course, that also means that he's had a senior role in digital recently. And he's one of those guys that really knows the difference and looks at an ROI when it comes to marketing and has a look at how it works throughout the whole business. So, worked in sales roles, worked in marketing roles, and has a close affinity with the whole digital piece. 

He's now with a company called Emmet Consulting, which is one of the founders of. And they do marketing consulting out of Melbourne and around Australia. So, yeah, I hope you'll enjoy the chat with Paul and, yeah, here we go.


 

Andrew: So, Paul, thanks for joining me today. It's really good to have you here. Paul, I've worked with over several years and he's got a great deal of experience in working for several large companies. 

And what Paul brings a lot of experience in is around not just the marketing piece, but the sales piece and also the digital piece. I often don't know whether to call you the Head of Sales or the Head of Marketing or the Head of Digital, but you certainly span all those areas. And it's a real good opportunity to have a chat about how those three really important sections or departments in a business can work better, what you've seen companies do well, what you're seeing companies haven't do well over the years and how people can harness the power of those three together to really make a difference in their business. 

So, in terms of what we call that sales, marketing, digital triangle, what do you say are some of the most important things in there to do?

Paul: Thanks, Andrew, and firstly, thanks for the opportunity to join you and your listeners on this podcast. I think culture is the key word. The very first thing is, irrespective of whether you have, I think, a sales and marketing leader or the executive or a sales leader or a marketing leader, culturally, if you don't set those teams up from the outset to think as one and to collaborate as one and to behave as one, two things will happen.

Firstly, you just won't get that fabulous feeling of energy and camaraderie and drive in your workforce. And secondly, you'll get less than optimal returns from your sales organization. I actually think in particular, from your marketing organization. 

So, the very first thing is for want of a better word than setting pace or taking the concept of setting pace. It's around, I think, setting your entire organization up. 

And even beyond sales and marketing, we can talk about the technology team and the digital team and the finance guys, for example, to think and behave as one. 

And I do think there are some really, really sort of simple steps that you can take to make that happen in which some of the more successful organizations I've been in have definitely sort of taken and led the way around. 

The first one of those, I guess, is Cadence. So, how much you might sort of sit there culturally and say, “Hey, guys, we need you to work together. We want you to work together. We want the concept of not two different organizations, but one organization sort of pushing together.” 

If those organizations are set up as basic as they sound on different meeting rhythms, different meeting cycles, talking around different things, and especially in their key meetings, then you're not going to expose sales to marketing, marketing to sales and the digital group to either of those guys as well as you could have. And people aren’t going to work with as much, I guess, empathy or comprehension, if they if they were sitting in those departments.

So, the first thing is those key meetings, I firmly believe, are not meetings that the digital and marketing guys should maybe attend once a month or once a quarter. 

But if you have, Cadence in the sense that I have key performance meetings every week, every fortnight, every month, those functionally led meetings, let's say their sales led, for example, those sales led meetings should have your marketing guys and girls in every single meeting, your digital representative, and for that matter, because we're talking about how teams work together, very much your performance people, your own business and performance people; the finance guys and girls. 

You just get a much richer conversation. And again, you get so much more empathy because you really appreciate the pressure that is on each of those individual departments that otherwise you kind of think you know, but you never really feel. 

The second piece then, I think successful organization definitely go really well is around KPIs. And I'm not saying for a second that your sales org and your marketing org and your digital team won't have functional specific KPIs. But at the end of the day, every single organization is typically trying to achieve one thing or another has to do with money; whether that's for their shareholders, their private owners, or I hate the term not-for-profit, but collecting money to put into something that is incredibly valuable and important at a community level.

Andrew: It's all about ringing the cash register at the end of the day, is it?

Paul: That's exactly what it is. No organization survives unless they have cashflow, unless they have money coming in for whatever purpose. 

So, typically, I think my experiences actually with the sales guys are really wearing that sales pressure wave. Depending on the marketing department, I tend to find a lot of marketing departments aren't necessarily as commercially orientated as they should be. So, they look at the look at their net promoter and they look at their brand preference and that brand conversion. Where's the revenue? Where's my mark? Where's my profitability? Where were the goals? The finance guys are sweating it out and the sales guys are sweating it out. 

And sadly, often with digital teams, I find that they can be stacked further back where they're kind of thought of as the techie guys and girls. And yet they have so much to bring to the table that again, if they’re immersed in those conversations and they're sharing revenue margin, profit KPIs to some degree, they're more able to orientate around, but really great suggestions forward around and effectively help and combine the organization achieve {indistinct 7:21}. 

So, this is the Cadence; it’s the alignment of KPIs. And every time that hasn't been in place, where I've put it in place, my experience, for what it's worth, it shifts the conversation from arguing about what we're trying to achieve really quickly, maybe to a conversation about how to achieve it. But that's still a better conversation. 

Andrew: Yeah. 

Paul: And then I think the last piece is just very much around planning. I see so many marketing teams, I've talked a lot about the {indistinct 7:52} guys. A lot of marketing teams, they'll sit there, they'll develop their marketing plans, they'll talk to finance because they want to know what budget they’ve got. This is a little bit cliché, but it happens a lot. They may or may not reach out to their digital colleagues, and yet they might be talking about automation or remarketing or sort of driving an increasing their social spend as they look at the sort of channels to {indistinct 8:17}. 

And yet and all of those cases, it’s almost an afterthought. We'll set the plan and then we'll go and reach out to these guys. 

So, we've got our Cadence, we've got our KPIs. How do we move from planning these individual functions and then asking people to come in later to planning together? One of my old cliché is, “There's no such thing as a marketing plan.”

Let's have sales and marketing and finance and have digital business partners; we need more people, business partners, all sitting around the room together, understanding the challenges of the organization together, forming the strategy for that organization together, and then getting into working together on the tactics. 

So, I think you still have a marketing plan, you still have a sales plan, but everything is underpinned by common understanding. All of those plans are built in a really, really collaborative manner. And then we get back to that cadence and those KPIs I've just spoken about, everyone knows when they're meeting, everyone knows what those meetings are about, everyone knows what's at stake. And the alignment and the sense of energy that comes from that is, again, in my experience, pretty infectious. 

Andrew: Yeah, because I've seen over the time where sometimes, somebody who's head of the eCommerce side will get a budget to achieve sales there. Whereas really, if you think about that, often the eCommerce is the tool to get that, but the ability to achieve those sales isn't necessarily going to come from the eCommerce team. They're facilitating it. They might be able to do some SEO and that sort of stuff. But unless the brand's aligned with that and the sales team are aligned with that, it's a bit crazy having a budget put against an eCommerce team, for instance.

Paul: Yeah, I agree. You know, there are always exceptions. There might be somebody listening that goes, “Well, that works in my work because my work is very specific in one way or the other.” But for me, economy is a channel. 

Andrew: Yeah, exactly. 

Paul: Retail is channel, direct sales is a channel. And if we think about B2B, which is where I spend not all of my time, but certainly a lot of it, to get the customer onto the eCom platform, there was probably a sales pipeline and decision process involved a human being in the first place. 

So, to your point, we've got the eCom guys there effectively tasked with the KPI, which involves them getting as much revenue as they possibly can out of the customers that have signed up. And yet it's quite plausible that those guys are struggling because upstream, they're not aligned with the sales department of the organization that's targeted with winning accounts. I mean, selling that fabulous eCommerce platform and that fabulous experience and therefore adding users that can drive spend for the guys downstream. And again, {indistinct 11:04}. 

Andrew: Yeah. Because sometimes that those objectives where I've seen in organizations where the salespeople in a B2B environment actually don't tell anybody about the B2B website because they think that website is actually going to be the end of their job.

And so, they deliberately hide it and say, “Don't worry about that, I'll take care of your order.” Whereas, that's the absolute opposite. 

I've seen studies in the UK that where somebody did a study of, I think of about one hundred organizations, B2B, that implemented eCommerce and not one of them laid off a sales person because of eCommerce.

Paul: I think that there's a whole podcast episode in that one. Sales {indistinct 11:49} and channel conflict. 

Andrew: Yeah. 

Paul: But I think firstly, I can understand the mentality, but it's a very, very short-term {indistinct 12:00}. I think the main thought that goes through my head when you started talking there was it completely misses the customer preference.

The reality is customers, for certainly purchases, for certain very complex major purchases or the first stage in a purchase, they may want to speak to an individual, but typically partners want to transact in as quick and as convenient manner as possible. Most transactions just aren't that involved these days. So, the conflict is not selling to a customer, the advantages of a really well built, really convenient, really sort of user-centric eCommerce platform. 

Firstly, they're going to harm the company, I think, in the longer term, to your point. It's going to really difficult to see a sales organization struggle because they've got a fabulous eCommerce plan.

Andrew: Yeah, exactly. Yeah. 

Paul: {indistinct 12:54} of the trick is you just add, I guess, the role of the salesperson, I think then can change to one of, you know, I mentioned a few minutes ago, there’s maybe initially winning a customer and bringing them into a business, especially, again, B2B, where you may have large accounts, for example. So, there's a human process in signing that organization up. 

But as more and more customers transact on an eCommerce platform for the vast majority of the requirements, I actually think it's an opportunity to say, “Okay, firstly, let's upscale ourselves to be far better strategic sellers and category cross sellers and secondly” --

Andrew: Or order takers.

Paul: Oh, absolutely. But ideally, I don't really want an order taker. I want an eCom platform to do that for me. 

Andrew: Exactly. 

Paul: Probably a low skill order taker. But my question is why are you taking orders while I'm driving them to the eCom platform? 

Solution selling and teaching salespeople to kind of sell categories they may not be familiar with is the equivalent of giving them, in many circumstances, a whole new career opportunity in a different {indistinct 14:01}. 

And there's also, I think, then the potential to have just far more involved value-added conversations with customers. As a result of the fact, you have the time and the ability, the bandwidth, if you will, to really understand and probe and learn about their business, safe in the knowledge and the more transactional elements. And we're talking sales here, but it can also be customer service. I'm being taken care of on my eCom or my self-serve platforms.

Andrew: Yeah, yeah. I guess what you're saying is really at the end of the day, it comes down to serving that customer. If you can't serve and impress that customer with not only your service but your products and that everybody in the business is aligned to delivering that same result, it's going to be hard to succeed.

Paul: Absolutely. It comes back to that culture piece. I remember in my very first marketing role, I actually had a background in customer experience and channel strategy and it was a pretty enlightened market in that it was really struggling to get alignment with sales. And they were two departments at complete war and my job was basically to get them to work together. 

And the first six months, three, six months may have been hard, but by the end of the first year, the barriers were well and truly down and I wasn't that bad, the guy in marketing weren't that bad. 

And by the eighteen, twenty-four-month mark, sales and marketing were working in absolute lockstep. 

And to your point, it comes back to, number one, it was a culture piece that says we're in this together. Number two, we shared goals. So, we argued cat and dog about how to get there, but it was a much better conversation than the one we were having, which was what were the goals in the first place. 

Andrew: Yeah, and then everybody is blaming each other for the goals not being met. 

Paul: Absolutely. And you don't even have the same goals or you're not aware of people's goals. You know, you're dead from the outset. The culture set, the performance matches the set and from that, everything else comes. So, you get better, I think, results. 

To your comments a few moments ago, and you just get a far more energized, more aligned organization in which people are working. And that drives them. Ironically, given we're talking eCom; that actually drives engagement.

Andrew: Yeah, yeah, yeah. And the customers can see that. The customers don't get a feel when salespeople are talking to the customers and eCom people, if they're supporting the customers, they know that everybody's aligned and they can feel that sort of joy almost coming out of the supplier, out of the vendor back to the customer.

Paul: Yeah, absolutely. You know, you imagine a conversation with a would-be customer where that customer walks in and they sit with the sales guys and all the normal clichés apply. 

But imagine that the marketing person is in the room and one of the finance business partners is in the room and one of the platform developers is in the room because they want a member of the eCom team, and not just picked a platform developer there, to actually listen to the customer and hear what they've {indistinct 16:56} for that first time. 

Firstly, as a customer, you're going to walk out and be blown away, because that isn't happening in many organizations, however simple that concept maybe. 

And secondly, again, I'm picking on the developer, just for the sake of this conversation, you're going to get a developer that probably, in most of his or her past lives, has been three or four steps back from a customer sitting in front of a machine. They could be brilliant with the customer; you just never knew because you never gave them the opportunity. And then they are going to hear from the customer first hand, what those guys and girls are going through and what they're looking for. 

So, yeah, I think there's enormous power in just making really, really simple changes, but again, to work more effectively cross-functionally and in this particular sort of instance, actually bring that team face to face with the customer, bring the customer face to face with that team. Only good things can happen.

Andrew: Yeah, exactly. And I think that certainly from an economic development point of view, having that developer, not only the developer is not going to come up with a solution to say, well, they sometimes do, but there's normally a B.A., Business Analyst, in the middle of that. 

But when you put the developer in front of the customer, so they can feel the customer's pain of how one process might work for them or something like that, rather than a developer just getting a spec at the end of the day, I think that really enhances the solution that an eCommerce platform can provide, not only to the business, maybe in a cost to serve environment, but also to the customer and how they're dealing with that vendor.

Paul: Absolutely. And in a world where it's really difficult to win business and to attain business, it’s really difficult to win business at a good price. It's very difficult.

Andrew: I just saw today Woolworths are going into B2B. Did you see that?

Paul: Yeah, absolutely. You know, that piece that you just touched upon, that that could yield a suggestion that might seem really, really small, but that could be the difference between winning a customer or not winning that customer. 

Andrew: Yeah, a massive difference. 

Paul: They’ve had a great experience and exposed culturally to an incredibly collaborative organization. What does that tell you? They're going to really like to work with those as a supplier and customer. 

And secondly, that tiny suggestion, yeah, the customer might walk away and like, “You know what? These guys are going to charge me two or three percent more, but they're already thinking about micro improvements that we can make, how do they drive vision, improvement or better net promoter score or whatever it may be.” 

Again, they only set you off on the right foot and they’ll only drive, I think, commercial good.

Andrew: Yeah. So, what do you think about having a development roadmap, especially around eCom, but not just eCom, but everything else? And also, I guess, taking to the layer of how does it affect what you're doing and how eCom works in with those roadmaps of the whole business?

Paul: I think the first -- So, to break that down into two. Firstly, the importance of the roadmap. At the end of the day, your eCom roadmap, your eCom platform is a product. It's a channel to market. It's a service offering, whatever you want to call it. 

So, I think having that roadmap clear, having that roadmap to the opening parts of this conversation where we talked about that sales, marketing and digital triangle, having it as a roadmap that everybody has bought into and understands and having that sort of regular cadence to make sure the sales and marketing guys know what's coming through from the roadmap when is incredibly important. 

Because it effectively is an opportunity to constantly remind the market of the improvements that you're making, the changes you make, the steps you're making to keep your company relevant. 

And in a world where marketers should be constantly looking for opportunities to communicate your product difference and give sales teams, for want of a better word than excuse, an excuse to reach out to customers and tell them what's going on. And the roadmap basically {indistinct 21:00} is that. 

So, first and foremost, I see a lot of organizations that don't have roadmaps and they're not really thinking in terms of this is our product or service. And they certainly don't think of their eCom platform as a product or a service. 

Andrew: Or a differentiator. 

Paul: Or a differentiator. So, if they have got a road map, again to the theme of this whole conversation, that's a technology roadmap. It's not something for our customers, isn't it? 

Andrew: Yeah. 

Paul: You don’t take another look. So, firstly, I think it's really, really important and it's really an opportunity as we think about sales, marketing and digital collaboration, for the sales and marketing guys to mine the opportunities that roadmap the strong messages to market.

And secondly, as you talk about the situation we're in, especially as I sit here in Victoria, that’s where we’re recording this one today, if you think about Covid --

Andrew: You evil people down there. 

Paul: Well, I mean, one of the cleaner areas. I think we've got one or two active cases, Andrew. If they're going to lock us down, let's get it done now and let's get through this. 

Andrew: Yeah. 

Paul: I think, to the second point you touched on there, roadmaps are so often something that is thought about on a cyclical, maybe an annual basis as part of annual planning, etc.

Right now, micro gains, macro improvements, small improvements can be the difference between surviving and thriving. If you'd excuse the cliche, they can be the difference between the sales and marketing guys not knowing what to talk about and having something really interesting to take to market. 

They can be the difference between a couple of basis points of conversion rate optimization improvement, but with something as sensitive as your conversion rate, those couple of basis points could be a massive driver of margin of profitability at a time when organizations are under a lot of top-line pressure and probably looking at their cash flow and their bottom lines more closely than ever. 

So, I think with all of those comments about the importance of having a roadmap in the first place, being in mind, right now, as much as time is at a premium, we have Zoom, we have Teams, we have we have Skype, a whole load of digital collaboration tools which give people the chance to sit down, get together and really scrutinize every step of the customer journey, every element of their business, and look for the improvements that they can make the little bolts that they can tighten, etc. to drive just a couple of points of incremental gain in revenue or sales or margin, whatever it may be. 

If there's ever been a time to double down, grab yourself a pizza and a beer or a glass of wine and spend a couple of hours of an evening with your colleagues working this stuff through, now is the time because every single inch matters.

Andrew: It's a really good opportunity. And certainly, in the last three months where for some businesses, things have been super busy, but some they haven't been busy. It's a good time. 

I think people get caught up in the BIU of everyday work, everyday business. And I know the business I work for, we'd have quarterly meetings and we decide we're going to do this, this and this. And then we'd walk out and we'd be just back to our normal day to day business. And we’d never really focus on those things. 

So, we now have a thing called OKRs, I'm not sure if you've heard of them; Objectives and Key Results. And it allows us to align our whole business around some objectives, not just individual ones that we break down into teams and things like that, and that allows us to concentrate on them for the next three months. 

We try not to do it beyond that because, especially in the eCommerce world, where things change pretty quickly, if you've got a roadmap, I've never seen a two-year roadmap on eCommerce that ever eventuated being that actual roadmap. It's more like, “Here's the big picture for two years. Let's break it down and see what we actually want to do in the next three months.” And as you said, make those micro changes. 

And you'll look back on that two years and go, “Actually, we achieved quite a bit there without trying to (what I sometimes call is) boil the ocean.”

Paul: Yeah, absolutely. And it is hard, people's rhythms have changed, their lives have changed, but you just use the opportunity with that. And I think as easy as it is to say and as difficult as it is to do. I think that's the mindset we've got to carry. Even when you're having your hard days, you're learning, even when you're looking in, there are opportunities. 

And so, just like the example with the Commerce Vision team, how do we bring people together, rally them around where the opportunities are, be that in customer service improvement, sales process improvement, micro improvement, you can make to your platforms that are quick and not necessarily huge amounts of money, but you can yield significant gain. 

And how do we just find the time, the extra energy, the extra buoyancy, if you will, to just push that little bit harder as we kind of continue to sort of trudge through, let's call it the Covid year and do our business and our customers and our people everything we can. 

Andrew: Because it's a really good opportunity. I spoke about this in a podcast a couple of weeks ago when I was talking to Danny Philips regarding customer experience, is that it's actually a really good opportunity. We've seen a lot of the B2C customers get a whole lot of new customers, and it's a good opportunity to grab those customers and show them how good you are and keep them forever. 

Because I think companies, and I think the terminology is coming up quite a bit of business now, is this September Cliff everybody's talking about. Some businesses aren't going to survive. And if you are in a position where you've made some material changes to your business to an order to make sure that you are one of those ones that survive, you might find this time next year your results are way better than you could have imagined, pre-Covid type of thing.

Paul: Awesome, really. You bring to mind one of our existing clients; he’s in the health and fitness industry. So, you know, we think about games and we think about {indistinct 27:06}. 

Andrew: Hmmm. Lucky them. 

Paul: Oh, my gosh. You know, the world's ended, right? 

Andrew: Yeah. 

Paul: These guys and a lot of organizations have done this, but they've executed really, really well. And, you know, never underestimate the importance of great execution. But they pivoted really, really quickly to online classes with the ability to then sort of subscribe and not just join the classes live, but watch those classes through the day. 

And I can't remember the numbers now, but they have something crazy, like two or three times their online subscribers are there now (and we're two and a half months into this whole thing), then they do physical customer. 

Andrew: Is that right? 

Paul: And this is like a business that’s been around a long, long time. So, you know, they've got some really interesting challenges; how do they monetize that model really, really effectively? How do they kind of keep differentiating so their product is superior to the competitors that are not catching them? 

Well, they're in the lead. They’ve spotted the opportunity. September cliff for them is just not a cliff. 

Andrew: No. 

Paul: It's a mountain, though they've got to climb because they've got a whole load of work effectively to do to drive engagement with these new customers, make sure they stay on that platform. And again, as I mentioned, to sort of continue to monetize it. But, you know, what a stunning example. 

And you look at it and you sort of say, “It's not a complicated idea either.” But had it not been for the situation that we're all in now, had it not been for some fantastic operators and the very, very clever people, that they are, they would probably have never done it.

Andrew: Yeah, that's right. There’re some great examples of that sort of stuff out there. I saw somewhere the other day where there was an article saying, “Stop investing in tech.” And my son, who works at TWC, will hate me for saying this, but he is stop investing in tech unless it's eCommerce. 

So, there's a bit of a push out there that says, “If you've got limited dollars to spend in tech or in the whole business, eCommerce is one of the key areas where you need to be focusing that spend.”

Paul: Yeah, I think, you know, again, that there are going to be people that will listen. They'll have a business that has a specific sort of functional shape. That means that's not necessarily relevant to them. 

But even if I sit here and I think about your question, I'm not even sure who they’ll be. Whether you're putting in a platform, because you don't have one or, I guess, politely tuning up your platform, every single dollar counts. 

The move away from sort of traditional retail and human to human purchasing to just online purchasing is accelerating. That pendulum is not going to swing back, I don't believe, by any stretch of the imagination at the end of this. 

Will it kind of the counterbalance, will come back a bit? Yeah, definitely will. But it won't go back to how it was now. 

Andrew: No. 

Paul: And so, yes, {indistinct 30:00} say, “How can I continue to invest in my eCom solution on the assumption that I've got one in the first place, and if not, we're kind of get moving there. 

And, you know, I talk about conversion rate a few seconds ago. For me, you've got how much traffic can you get to your site and joys the search brings, but the one that always comes back to me is, “How do I at least maintain the traffic I've got and how do I work with my platform, my platform developers, my digital team, to do everything I can to maximize conversion of the customers on my site, because it's such a sensitive measure?”

And when you've got all of that investment in your platform and the support team already, every extra dollar that you can squeeze out of it is pure margin money. 

Paul: So, the key is go, go, go. Absolutely, eCom and again, for me, I'm obviously a big fan of conversion rate optimization. So, eCom and CRM, for me, is what we're talking to a lot of customers about.

Andrew: Right. So, maybe just to finish up, have you seen much of manufacturers going direct to the public? What are the risks in like a manufacturer deciding, “Well, I've got a whole supply chain; it might be some of the large retailers and stuff like that. But I'm concerned that I might be intermediated by them in the future; they bring in their own brands and suddenly, my brand is no longer important to them.” 

How do they make sure that if they want to go to market in a B2C environment, they can do that safely without really upsetting their existing customer chain at the moment?

Paul: Yeah, like absolutely. I think the first one is it's a difficult one because it all depends on your current customers and how they behave. And unfortunately, but realistically, there are probably some providers out there that are more aggressive. 

Andrew: And Australia's such a small country that we've got some of those businesses that just dominate the market; there's a lot of monopolies or duopolies in Australia. 

Paul: Unfortunately, so. It’s a relatively young country. In some regards, I think that just sort of still comes through in the competitive landscape in a lot of industries. 

But look, I think, to your question, the first thing is it's really, really important to talk to your existing customers, effectively, your over existing distributors, your existing channels to market. Because there's one thing worse than having an argument and feeling like your suppliers trying to sort of go around the edge of you and that's feeling like your supplier is trying to undermine you or even go behind your back. 

Andrew: Yeah. 

Paul: You must trust them, firstly.

Andrew: So, I guess if you explain to them what your position is, just work together. 

Paul: Absolutely. Absolutely. So, I think the very first thing is there's probably that conversation that people are saying, “How do we approach them? Well, let's develop to a point and then we'll tell them.” 

Have the conversation really early. If it's not going to be a great conversation at the beginning, it's not going to get any better. 

Andrew: No, that's right. If you do it behind their back. 

Paul: And they’ll find out, and you may as well start working on it. And you do that with care and you do that with respect, but that's important. 

And I think, very much to the point you touched on there, Andrew, there's the reality of a strong supplier is a good supplier. So, you'd hope that the vast majority of a company's channels to market, as long as (So, to come to my last point in a second), as long as they can see ways in which you're going to work together, I guess, to minimise impact on the channel, this distributor or this current customer owns, there should be a good conversation there. Because it's a conversation that says, “For me to survive and for me to thrive, I need to do things differently as well. How can I work with you to continue to be a great provider to you, but also to start building my own channels to market in a way that minimises your concern and threat?” 

Andrew: Yeah. 

Paul: So, I think the second is as basic as it is, is that sort of negotiation process and that real open-minded conversation around, “How can I do this in a way that works for me, because me is better for you, but also in a way that minimizes threat to you?”

And then the last point actually comes from that probably goes back to the product roadmap conversation that we were having earlier. It's amazing how you can differentiate a product. It's amazing how you can tweak and change. It's amazing how you can think about two products that appear and will be very similar, but with some really good brand work, some really good sort of product development thinking, some really good sort of products and feature thinking can be positioned quite differently in the eyes of a would-be consumer from a product that you might already be providing to one of your main sort of channel partners, one of your main distributors. 

So, the last piece for me is, “How can I differentiate my product so I'm still taking something to market directly that is going to appeal to my customers, but is not necessarily going to be a straight cannibalisation of what is already going to market through my existing channel partners or certainly in their eyes.” 

So, again, talk and talk early. 

Andrew: Yeah. 

Paul: Number two, win-win. And remember that a strong supplier base for any partner that we want to work with on a sustained basis is good for that partner. 

Andrew: Yeah. 

Paul: And the third piece is, never underestimate how many different types of washing powder you can get, right?

Andrew: That's right. See our margarine store, isn’t it? 

Paul: Yeah. 

Andrew: I think there's about 10 different brands of margarine and eight of them are made by the same company and they just differentiate them with different brands. And if they only had one brand, they'd probably only get 50 percent of the market, by having eight brands they're getting 80 percent of the market. So, it's that old adage.

Paul: Absolutely. I did one really early in the days, actually, and they were in the bathroom and building supplies industries. They had one channel partner that was an enormous, enormous part of that business. And frankly, that channel partner deserved all the respect in the world because they enabled this business to grow. 

But it was only natural and it was the right point for this particular organization to start thinking about kind of, I guess, building up other channels and potentially their own channels to market. They talked to their partner. They talked to their partner early, they built some product that, as far as they were concerned, they were very similar to the products they were already selling, but they were positioned in a way that it was very, very different as they went to market from a brand, and again, products and features perspective. 

And probably go back four or five years now, both businesses are doing very, very well, both businesses trade together and they've probably got a stronger relationship than they've ever had. And the organization in question, the one that I'm talking about, firstly, has less of an exposure, if you will, less of a direct reliance on that one partner. 

And secondly, again, it’s a stronger business in their own right, because they’re selling more products that generate more margin and they're able to be a better partner to their key distributor as a result.

Andrew: And that distributor might have even found that some of that line that the supplier decided to sell directly or through that other channel might have taken some pressure or some inventory off them that they no longer have to stock. They can just stock the stuff that sells all day, every day and they know that there's another channel that people can get those other products through, if they really want those other products.

Paul: Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. And is there even a conversation that says, “If I'm going direct and this is wildly successful, then I'll create a version for you”? 

Andrew: Yeah, exactly. 

Paul: There are so many different ways, I think, we can change our thinking. So, instead of it being kind of a clash of the fists or a clash of heads, you can put your arms around each other and work together and climb {indistinct 37:54}. 

Andrew: So, one plus one equals three. 

Paul: Yeah. 

Andrew: Yeah. 

Paul: Yeah. It’s a big, old world. There are 25 million people in this country alone. And with eCom there's a massive global market out there. In the vast majority of cases, Paul, ever the optimist, is going to say there's a way. 

Andrew: Yeah. 

Paul: You know, there's a how you can do it. And I think you've just got to talk and partner and find that way. 

And the final line is if you ever go home at night, you know you've been your reasonable best and you're working with an existing channel partner saying, “No” to you. You know, this is a very, very easy thing to say. But you've got to sit there and reflect on what that's going to mean for your business in the longer term anyway because it’s not available. 

Andrew: Yeah. All right, Paul, thanks for your time today. And I think the thing that I've learnt out of this today is whether it's with your internal people; with sales, marketing, digital, or, in fact, your partners; being your customers, especially in that distribution environment, it's all about collaborating together and working for the greater good. 

So, yeah, I really appreciate your time today, Paul. And we'll catch up soon, hopefully, when we get down to Melbourne again.

Paul: Thanks so much for having me. And we're looking forward to having you guys down here, as a Victorian, looking at the warmer weather in Queensland. I'm really looking forward to the day when it's safe for us to get up the coast and see guys in Brisbane. Thanks, Andrew. 

Andrew: Okay. Thanks, Paul.


 

I hope you enjoyed that chat we had with Paul Munkley from Emmet Consulting. He certainly does know his stuff. He knows how to get the best out of people. 

And if you're interested in him working with your company to help you get the best out of not only your sales and marketing team, but also your digital, he’ll help you bring those strategies together, you just to get in contact with me via LinkedIn. That's Andrew Rogencamp. 

Paul's also on LinkedIn, Paul Munkley, and he's from a company called Emmet Consulting (E-M-M-E-T) emmetconsulting.com

So, yeah, I hope you enjoyed that. We'll be back again next month with something different. And we hope you can join us then. Thanks a lot. 


 

Thanks for joining us! If you found today's episode valuable, be sure to subscribe to the podcast so you don't miss out on our upcoming shows. 

 

If you'd like to preview some of our other episodes, you can find them here - https://www.commercevision.com.au/podcast 

eCommerce tips straight to your inbox.