Many building material manufacturers fear line reviews with big boxes like Home Depot and Lowe’s. They frequently see it as an event where they have more to lose than to gain.
What they fear
- Demands for even lower prices
- Fewer sku’s
- May have to fund promotional programs
- Worse placement
- A new competitor in your category
Most companies go into a line review with three simple goals
- Stay on shelf
- Defend their margin
- Grow their share of category sales
Here’s what you should do in a Home Depot or Lowe’s line review
- Grow a pair
You should go into a line review with the confidence of an expert in your category instead of an overpaid order taker. You should know more about your category than the buyer. It takes work to study and interpret the sales data.
It also takes work to keep up to date on who is buying your product and why. Too many national account managers think they know everything they need to know. They think they know how to play the game.
Rather than being the one who tilts the playing field in their favor or changes the rules of the game, they are in for a rude awakening. At some point, the big box will change the rules or worse, a competitor will. They then have to scramble to stay relevant or lose the game.
It can be hard because of the volume but you also should go into a line with review with the confidence that losing their business won’t put you out of business. This confidence makes it easier for you to negotiate a better outcome.
- Think about the buyer and not just yourself
Too many line review presentations are focused on you – you – you. They are too full of, “Let me show you this research about why customers prefer us.”
The buyer wants to grow his category. It doesn’t really help him to just shift sales to your brand.
Whether you are the category leader or not you should act like you are the leader. You should bring ideas to the line review that can help grow the category and not just your sales.
- Do your homework
In addition to knowing how your products are performing on a store-by-store basis, you also need to know a few more things.
You need to make sure you are up to date on the latest market research and information about your category. What changes are happening in the types of products that are selected and why? What changes are happening in who is buying the products? How are these changes affecting the big box and how can you help them to stay on top of these changes.
Make sure you have studied the last few quarterly earnings reports to see where the big box CEO is heading. You better have ideas that are in alignment with the leaders direction.
If you have done your homework, an important area that you need to embrace is the drive to online sales by big boxes. Even if it seems to make no sense to sell your product online, you need to find a way to help the big box grow online.
- Paint them a picture
While facts and figures are important, having a vision is even more important. Data shows you the past. It shows how you have performed and not how you will perform.
You need to have a vision about how the big box will be more successful with you than without you. You need to bring that vision to life so the buyer can see it.
The goal is for the buyer to say, “That just makes sense.” Buyers are human beings and many times will make decisions based on their gut feeling. They will then use data to support their decision.
You want to show the buyer no one is more committed to their success than you as you continually bring them ideas to make them more successful.
Like them or not, line reviews are part of doing business with big boxes. Instead of fearing them, you should see line reviews as an opportunity to set yourself apart from your competitors.
To read a line review success story click here.
If you have an upcoming line review and would like a more powerful presentation, contact me.