Here at MDM we are in the midst of implementing some positive changes in how we do business. We are especially excited about one in particular, which we will be revealing to you in the next couple of months.
Our operations are different from a distributor’s – MDM is a part of Gale Media, which is a specialized publishing and research business – but through our work, we are reminded of the challenges that come with change. Undoubtedly, these challenges transcend industry lines.
While we hope the ROI will be positive, there is only so much a business can control. And that’s the fear factor in change.
But it’s also exciting and provides a great opportunity for the company. We recognize the only way to continue growing is to make this investment of time and energy. We feel like we’ve done many things right, such as hiring a specialist to oversee the work. We’ve deployed a cross-functional team to make sure we are covering our bases and to ensure buy-in. And while we’ve set out a pretty good plan, we understand you cannot plan for everything. So we’ve learned to be flexible and to change course when needed.
In this issue’s lead article, "Conditions Ripe for Better Pricing," Brent Grover of Evergreen Consulting addresses the challenges in making changes to a distributor’s pricing system. In fact, pricing is one of the most sensitive areas for a distributor to change due to its direct impact on the sales force and how it is accustomed to operating. He recognizes that, but has also seen firsthand the potential for high ROI when change is done right.
Change is a lot of work and it can take a long time to see the ROI. Keeping a company focused on the end goal can be challenging. As quoted in an old article at Knowledge@Wharton on implementing strategy: "There are more people involved in executing strategy today – and execution takes longer than people expect. So you develop a strategy, but you have to go throughout the organization and through dozens of planners to make sure it is carried out. Once execution starts, it could be one or two years, or even require a three-to-five year time frame."
Another obstacle? Internal resistance. As the same article points out, "People lose power, resources, autonomy, or they perceive that they might lose autonomy." Many distributors have experienced this pushback.
But some distributors have pushed forward anyway, found ways to address these issues and gain buy-in. As a result, they have reaped the rewards of taking this risk.