Recently, I was on the phone with the president of an industrial company frustrated that his company’s product innovations weren’t as well received as he would like. When I asked him to describe his product development process, he said he had the best engineers in the business and they knew what they were doing. When I pushed him on how the process incorporated market insights, specifically from his distributors; he was silent. Fact is, effective product portfolio management relies on marketplace insights; industrial distributors are uniquely positioned to provide those insights and have a vested interest in doing do.
Distributors can provide manufacturers product portfolio insights such as:
- Market opportunities
- Necessary portfolio breath (i.e., the right categories)
- Necessary portfolio depth (e.g., the right sizes, shapes, coatings)
- Performance problems
- Product discontinuations
- Appropriate new product launch approach
But to get those insights, your distributors need to be appropriately involved in the process. Ask them what the next big innovation needs to be… involve them in portfolio review sessions… consider their input regarding the best way to launch new products.
What’s the best way to determine if you’re involving your distributors appropriately in managing your product portfolio? Ask them.
Bart Schwartz, President / ICR / 630.503.6093