NACDS, Walgreens partner in Successful Selling

CHICAGO The National Association of Chain Drug Stores next month will be hosting its second Successful Selling conference, an event for small- to mid-tier companies looking to break into the drug channel of trade or make that channel more profitable.

This year, NACDS partnered with Walgreens to coincide with the chain’s New Vendor Days, which guarantees participants an audience with one of the premier drug chains in the industry. “That’s a tremendous addition to the program and hopefully it’s going to be as equally as good for Walgreens,” said Fitz Elder, NACDS’ vice president, member relations and chief member relations officer.

“Not only will these people have an opportunity to test their retail readiness right there, but hopefully Walgreens is going to find some exciting new products and be first to market with them.”

Each vendor participant will get 20 minutes with the appropriate Walgreens buyer. While 20 minutes may not seem like much, that could be the foot in the door that these companies need. “The other thing that is important is not only do they get all this training, and certainly the key for all of them is the opportunity to meet with Walgreens, but the other benefit is that they’ll have the broker community, some sales marketing people, advertising companies and some of the ancillary service companies that can help them put wheels on the training that we give them,” Elder said.

Perhaps it’s that partnership with Walgreens that has driven participation in the Successful Selling venue to more than double the number of companies that participated last year. Or it could be that word of last year’s success has reverberated through the industry—23 of last year’s 53 companies parlayed their Successful Selling learnings into an NACDS Marketplace or NACDS Pharmacy appearance. It’s likely a combination of the two, but the fact remains that this year is expected to be a much larger show.

The impetus for the show was borne out of the NACDS Retail Advisory board, comprised of both drug retailers and veteran vendors, which identified the value in innovative new products brought to market by niche companies, as well as the challenge these companies have cutting their teeth in the mass market for the first time. The board put together a sub-committee, aptly named the Outreach and Business Development Committee, to develop a conference that would not only familiarize new-to-the-channel companies with the basics in competing successfully, but also would put those companies in touch with resources that could aid them in their quest to mass.

“One of the problems that [ORBD] found with those companies is that they really weren’t ready to go to market, and anything that we might be able to do to help them prepare and get prepared and understand how business is done in drug, food and mass would be beneficial to [those smaller companies],” Elder said.

The meeting is designed to appeal to more than just the new-to-mass-market companies, Elder said, but to those companies who already have a toe in the water and are looking to make a bigger splash. “They need a boot camp, they need a refresher process to make sure that they’re hitting on all the cylinders and doing all the things that they can to bring their product forward,” Elder said. “[And] we’re seeing a number of companies signing up this year that are successful in other classes of trade, but aren’t in food, drug and mass. Consequently they see this as a great opportunity to understand the nuances of the business up front to get moving and come to market prepared for these classes of trade.”

There are three active work groups that help round out the programming driving Successful Selling. One work group addresses the logistics behind bringing products to market. Another work group deals with the hoops and hurdles associated with negotiating retail placement, including slotting fees and such. And the third work-group is made up of brokers and sales/marketing companies, complete with educational models on how those companies can help a new company succeed at mass.