Best Practices for Success

IFDA Partner Meetings provide a focused setting to hold high level strategic discussions with important trading partners. Those meetings can help accelerate business growth — especially if both trading partners follow through on commitments made during IFDA Partner Meetings. There are rules to every game, and over time we have identified some best practices that help deliver results. We share them below.

Prepare for Your Meetings
  • Contact information is shared with manufacturers and distributors approximately four months prior to the IFDA Partners Executive Forum. It is important to contact trading partners immediately after receiving the information to schedule a meeting time at the Forum.
  • Create a Team and hold internal meetings to map out goals for your discussion with each trading partner. We suggest this begin 10-12 weeks prior to the Forum and that you hold internal meetings every two weeks leading up to the January Forum meetings.
  • Communicate with your trading partners. That should include sending a concise survey to understand subjects a trading partner wants to address and collaborating with them to create an agenda for your onsite meeting.

Conducting Meetings On-Site
  • Prepare a brief “State of the Union” about any changes at your company and share your growth strategy for the year. If you are meeting with a trading partner who is very familiar with your company, just share new strategic information. Keep it tight. Keep it fresh.
  • You have prepared a shared agenda for each meeting. Make sure to follow it and to leave time for open discussion. Also have a designated note-taker, which is vital for recalling details on your meetings and for follow-up on agreements made during your meetings.
  • Agree with your trading partner about follow-up items and deadlines and assign a person who is accountable.

Follow-up after the Meeting
  • Share notes with relevant parties back at your company and make sure to review follow-up items and deadlines with your team. Follow up is critical to reaping the benefits of your discussions with trading partners at the Forum.
  • It is a good idea to set up a reminder system for your team to follow up on items (15/30/60 days) and to complete them.
  • Consider creating a scorecard to measure outcome of agreements made during the meeting, follow through, and eventual results.
Other Considerations
  1. Bring the Right People. Productive discussions are driven by having the right people in the room. Include executives who have decision-making authority and executives who intimately know individual accounts.
  2. Define growth goals and how each trading partner fits into achieving those goals. Look for growth opportunities and be open minded. Key players from trading partner companies will be at the conference and mutual growth is the goal.
  3. Know your history with each trading partner and treat each visit as an individual opportunity. Have knowledge of local purchasing, group purchasing, and marketing program participation for each trading partner with whom you meet. Understand your company’s history with each supplier or distributor. Address how you can work together to develop better programs and take advantage of existing programs. Discuss success / support of new items.