Overcoming Common Obstacles Within Planning Promotions


For any consumer goods brand, there is one period of time that is equally critical and often time consuming: planning promotions. 

If you are a company that is still managing this process in spreadsheets or in older TPM tools, it's a process that can become more complex and cumbersome than it needs to be. In a recent webinar, UpClear brought together dairy brands Valio USA and Crystal Farms Dairy to discuss their experiences adapting to a SaaS platform to manage their trade.

That's not to say there are not different considerations for a brand switching from spreadsheets vs. another TPM platform. Chris Schleper, director of business development at Crystal Farms Dairy, recognized that the established processes built around the existing TPM platform would require a lot of change management, and therefore recommends retaining a consulting firm to support and manage that change. 

[See also: Sales & Marketing Report 2021]

We’ve been able to reduce our planning cycle ... from two months or more in some cases down to two weeks,” Schleper said.

For a company that is moving off of spreadsheets, change management is more focused on how easy it is to train the first time, as well as when onboarding new team members. Mark Conway, senior customer marketing manager at Valio USA, remarked upon the effectiveness of their sales team retaining their understanding of a new system when it takes a few hours to show them versus a full day or two. 

“We realized increased margins over the last three years ... basically, it was like turning the screws on a bolt,” said Conway. “We tightened up the organization.”

The key highlights of this discussion included a few salespeople from each company providing real-world examples of the pain points they were facing, how they were able to address these and transition to the new tool, along with the benefits they realized when moving to the platform. Some quick points are highlighted below:

Common Challenges

  • Different tools used by different departments can make planning extra complicated
  • Information silos across different teams and departments
  • Forecasting inaccuracies lead to supply chain and stock complications
  • Managing and measuring margins and budgets are estimates at best

Best Practices When Adapting a Platform

  • Take the time to clean your data
  • Review how existing platforms will "speak" to the new system
  • Select a solution that is easy to learn and easy to update
  • Maintain that platform as the “common language” across different departments

Benefits of a TPM Platform

  • Reduced planning cycle (months to weeks)
  • Expanded discussions with retailers about full-year plans
  • Single platform across sales and finance
  • Greater spend efficiency
  • Fully visible and adjustable plan for the year ahead

 Rajeev Prabhakar is Director of Client Success, Americas at UpClear.

More on Trade Promotion Management