MYPRODUCT56 The Poker Game

1.Situation

In MYPRODUCT5 si MYPRODUCT11 I have detailed some of my involvement in the commercial support provided in 2013-2015 to Rhone Vet, a company responsible for distributing and selling Merial’s veterinary products in Hungary.

This collaboration has proven to be one of the most important and complex professional challenges throughout my career, my involvement being actively and directly on multiple areas and functions: management, operational, commercial, sales, marketing, communication, human resources, budgets, policies, organization chart, sales team professionalization, etc.

2.Task

Why was this project special, complex and challenging?

3.Action

In order to answer to this question, it is necessary to detail the context of Rhone Vet at the time when our collaboration started in February 2013.

Synthetically, the general situation was as follows:

-the veterinary market in Hungary for pet and farms was dominated by two large wholesalers, which accounted for about 75-80% of the market; for this reason, inevitably all manufacturers and importers were working with these companies to sell and distribute their products

two large retailers covered 50% of the total pet shop market

pet owners based their purchasing decisions on offers, promotional prices

veterinary doctors were not willing to promote products, preferring the “easy earning” of offering products required by animal owners

-veterinary doctors and pet shops had multiple sources of purchase for the same product, the delivery standard being the same day or maximum the next morning. For this reason, these customers put pressure on promotions, discounts on product purchases and worked with minimal stocks

Rhone Vet’s business (revenue, profits) registered declining trend for years

-in veterinary channel (cabinets, veterinary pharmacies), the company’s market share was continuously decreasing

Frontline Combo locomotive brand faced a continuous erosion

the price for Frontline Combo was 40-75% above the price of its main competitor Advantix

under 10% of the company’s sales was represented by direct sales, the rest of sales being made through wholesalers and sub-distributors

small size of pet product team.

4.Results

Following this assessment, we developed a medium-term action plan, a plan that I presented metaphorically to Rhone Vet team as ”The Poker Game”.

So there are more players at a poker table. Some years ago, Rhone Vet was one of the best players, with most of the table chips and good cards in hand.

Meanwhile at the table players came and gone, many games were played and today Rhone Vet is in a very difficult posture, having few chips and many loosing cards in the hand.

What we need to do is to fight to stay at the table, to change our cards in potential winning cards, to play more rounds with the goal that in 2-3 years we gain a significantly stronger position, with good cards in hand and many more chips at the table.

In this context, we started to develop projects, actions, plans to improve our position in relation to all the difficult issues mentioned above.

Without going into much details, I point out such initiatives:

-dedicate partnerships with the two big wholesalers

-new campaigns with the two retailers in the pet shop segment

-TV campaign for Frontline Combo included special promotions for pet owners

-attract veterinarians to recommend Merial portfolio through Pet Doktor application

-enlarged pet sales team, focused on direct sales made by the team, ran dedicated training sessions on the price area, discounts with the sales team

-creation of telesales service

-specific actions to reduce the price gap between Frontline Combo and Advantix

-the launch of new products was done via local road show events and not through a single central event

-the new Frontline Triact range was promoted as Triact, without Frontline to avoid erosion of the range

-cross selling and up selling politics

All efforts and actions of the company converged towards a positive end result. So Rhone Vet business reversed to growth and strengthened its position in the market.

It means more chips and better cards in hand to run the poker game.

5.Key Leanings

If you ever have the chance to be involved in complex and difficult projects, do not hesitate.

Accept the challenge even if markets or companies are unknown to you because such opportunities can lead you to valuable and rewarding experiences for your professional career.

Notification: MYPRODUCT reflects my real professional experience and expertise as well as my subjectivity. I do have a profound respect for all the companies I collaborated to and for all the people I worked with. It is not my intention to approach any sensitive, confidential or offending information related to companies, projects or people. If you the reader deduct or recognise companies, projects or people in my examples, I kindly ask you to respect MYPRODUCT and my professional and ethic approach and to not share any detail, information, situation, name, company.