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The panel discussion recapped on p. 4 held at a recent association meeting touches on a few of these key issues. It was unique panel in some ways in that a few of the participants have worked and built successful careers on both manufacturing and distribution sides. Their insights reflect the concerns of many, as did the entire panel discussion.
The question: Where do you see the relationship between manufacturers and distributors going in the next five years? I'd argue the answers you read from the five panelists are different than what you usually hear. The study notes version is that nothing speaks louder than orders to generate respect. But the tough market conditions of the past two years have pushed both manufacturers and distributors to work harder on who they select, how they select them, and the level of communication that has to take place to be successful.
The use of account executives by manufacturers (more on this in an upcoming MDM) is one way that manufacturers are finding ways to strengthen their end of the value proposition, to better use their limited resources, to provide a stronger planning process in concert with distributors. The same can be said about how both distributors and manufacturers are fine-tuning the depth and consistency of communication. Nobody can afford to conduct their sales and marketing efforts based on the plot of Groundhog Day anymore, by simply applying a one-size-fits-all approach to their suppliers or distributors. There are some good strategies in this discussion.