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Podcast: Foodstrategy post Covid19

Second episode of the Blueprint Café series. A virtual coffee break for business leaders discussing a current commercial topic in an informal setting. During this episode we discussed with our guests the impact of Covid19 on strategies in the food business. Where is the main impact, what is to stay and how to Survive, Revive and Thrive. Listen to this Blueprint Café podcast.

This week’s guests:

  • Marcus Vallance – Managing Partner BrandMix Business Intelligence
  • Nina Schwidetzky – Founder & CEO Die Personalverstärker
  • Sarah Jones – Director at Red Apple Ventures / Angel Investor
  • Martien de Ruijter – Team and Account Manager and Specialist OOH
  • Ronnie MacDonald – Blueprint Chairman
  • Jeff Callander – Lecturer Southampton Business School and University and Blueprint Associate
  • Chetan Bhanot – Managing Partner Blueprint North America
  • Nigel McMahon – Director Blueprint Europe
  • Erik Aapkes – Managing Partner Blueprint Europe

Podcast: Mindset during Covid19

First episode of the Blueprint Café series. A virtual coffee break for business leaders discussing a current commercial topic in an informal setting. During this episode we discussed the importance of a positive mindset during Covid19. This week’s guests discussed about the impact of Covid19 on the mindset of their teams and themselves. And explored during a vivid conversation ways to uncover and manage one’s mindset for better performance. Listen to this Blueprint Café podcast

This week’s guests:

  • James Healey – Country Manager Damm UK
  • Tjeerd de Jong – Managing Partner RedpepperAdvertising
  • Ronnie MacDonald – Blueprint Chairman
  • Jeff Callander – Lecturer Southampton Business School and University and Blueprint Associate
  • Andrew Shea -HR/L&D and Blueprint Associate
  • Sarah Jones – Co-Founder at the Angel Collective and Blueprint Associate
  • Erik Aapkes – Managing Partner Blueprint Europe
Getting Beyond Browsing

How can I help you? I am just browsing!

We advise and train customers all over the world. And they all share the same experience. Ask someone “Is there something I can help you find?”, and 99,9% responded that the answer would be: “No thanks, I’m just browsing.” 

But are we really? And why do we still respond this way, when we actually DO need help finding something? And how can sellers break through this barrier with strategic or power questions?

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The votes have been cast…

So the votes have been cast and a majority Conservative government is in power, regardless of which side of the political debate you are on this does mean that the U.K. will leave Europe.

There will no doubt be upsides and downsides to this but one positive thing that definitely comes out of it is that for the first time in 3 years businesses can begin to plan knowing for certain that the U.K. will no longer be a part of Europe. This will bring change to your business, some of which will be no doubt be positive for you and some of which will bring challenges.

As a business leader it is important that you now prepare for these changes, whether this is in refreshing your strategy, creating a robust new strategy, optimising your route to market, changing your pricing platform or sharpening the skills of your team to win in the new environment. When change happens it is critical that your business changes accordingly! Blueprint can cost effectively help you optimise your success against these changes and as always we would be delighted to help.

Please think about it and just drop us a mail if you would like to discuss how we can progress things with you. In the meantime however let us wish you, your family and your team a very merry Christmas and a happy and prosperous new year!

Blueprint’s Top 5 Account Management Tips

Being an Account Manager is an extremely rewarding job, but it is far from being an easy one. Here are our Top 5 Tips to help you stay on top of your game.

1. Build a comprehensive knowledge platform. Our tool, the 7 C’s of Knowledge is useful here. 7 things that you need to know about all beginning with C. For the Account Manager the 7 C’s are critically important:  

Country: Keep up to date with the big changes in the commercial world around you, this will help you to plan better, handle objections and seek out the opportunities.                       

Company:  Spend time seeking to understand how your own company works, who makes the decisions, and how all of the departments integrate together. As an Account Manager, half of your time will probably be spent influencing your colleagues in order to seize the opportunities. The more you can network internally to good effect, the better.            

Customer:   Internally you must be the ‘Customer Champion’, you must be the font of all knowledge on how this company works, what their aspirations are, and what their more immediate plans are. But in front of the customer too, you have to demonstrate an intimate knowledge of how the customer works. My challenge to any Account Manager is to know the customer better than your buyer does.

Competitor : A healthy knowledge and understanding of the competitor will help you handle objections, negotiate better, absorb the pressure of the role  and to raise your own bar.

Channel:    Be an expert in channel dynamics and knowledge. Take an active interest in becoming an expert in this, whether the channel is Retail, Food Service, Brokers, e-Commerce. Be the go to person for all info on the channel.  

Category:   You will probably have colleagues who work in the Category Management department, but don’t rely on them to do the whole job. Will they always be at your side when the Buyer floats that interesting question on Category dynamics across the desk? Keep up to date with what is going on in the category to allow you to grasp the opportunity or diminish the threat as soon as it is presented to you.     

Consumer:    The same goes for your consumer/shopper knowledge, don’t leave it all up to your marketing department. Take an active interest in the Consumer yourself.

2. Be Organised:   The devil is in the detail, and there will be a lot of detail to manage. Don’t try to just commit things to memory, you will forget. Keep detailed notes of your meetings, emails, agreements, price files and opportunities. Even years after the event this detail can be very important in commercial deals.

3. Adopt a phenomenal work ethic: Yes of course have a good work life balance, that is extremely important, but when  you are at work, work hard. The job is too important to wing it. Build your external and internal networks, get around your customers estate, keep your finger on the pulse of what is happening.

4. Sharpen your Skill Set: Ensure you constantly update your skills, particularly your influencing/selling skills and your negotiation skills. When was the last time you had some formal / refresher training on this? The best Account Managers practice these important skills diligently and frequently.

5. Conduct yourself professionally: Be balanced in your judgement, listen and think before you speak, be mindful of your body language particularly during times of stress or negotiation. Deliver the principles and values set by your company.

Let us know what you think of our Top 5 List


How up to date are you on the Groceries Supply Code of Practice?

All Designated Retailers’ Buying teams have to be trained in GSCOP within a month of taking on the role and be refreshed ins GSCOP training every year. Christine Tacon the Grocery Code Adjudicator is very keen to ensure that Grocery supply companies are trained regularly on GSCOP too, when was the last time you were trained on GSCOP ?

At Blueprint we recently ran a GSCOP course for one of our clients and the benefits to the account management team were huge, from ensuring that the supply agreements comply to the power it gives the individual in negotiation.

Is it about time you refreshed your GSCOP training?


Stop Selling

Buyers want to buy, not to be sold upon

In my selling workshops, I always ask delegates: "If you are going to a shop, and the salesperson asks you if he or she could be of help, how many of you reply by saying: Thanks but I am just looking?"

Generally they all reply in a similar way. Now explain this. These salespeople in my workshop, who are convinced they are doing a great job helping their customers, they themselves don't want the help of a fellow salesperson!?

The simple explanation is that no one wants to 'be sold upon'! We all want to believe that it was us, who bought, instead of being sold to.

It isn't different with our buyers, if you give them the feeling you're here to sell to them, they will put up that wall of defence, which will be very hard to tear down afterwards. Instead, give them the feeling they are still in charge of their own decision process and you may have a smoother journey to the closure of the deal.

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The Famous 5 E’s Selling Structure

The Blueprint Selling Model

Used daily by hundreds of successful sales people around the world, here is the famous Blueprint 5 E's Selling Structure:

  • Explore the Needs: Understand fully want your customer is looking for

  • Establish the interest: A check step to ensure that you have the correct needs

  • Explain the Deal: Showcase your offer

  • Emphasize the Key Benefits: By highlighting how the customers needs can be fulfilled

  • Execute the Next Steps: Go for the close.

  • Explore the Needs: Understand fully want your customer is looking for

  • Establish the interest:
    A check step to ensure that you have the correct needs

  • Explain the Deal: Showcase your offer

  • Emphasize the Key Benefits: By highlighting how the customers needs can be fulfilled

  • Execute the Next Steps:
    Go for the close.

A great many people have told us that once learned the 5 E's provide the best structure for success. For more information please contact us via the contacts tab on this website.

Success blueprint: Strategic Planning in 3 Steps

In entrepreneurial circles, there’s a well-known book entitled “The E-myth Revisited”, by Michael Gerber, in which a startling statistic is shared. Of the roughly one million new businesses that open in the United States every year, only 4% of those businesses make it to year ten.

According to Michael Gerber’s research, successful companies and organizations that make it to year ten have something in common – they dedicate the appropriate amount of time to working ON the business vs. working IN the business. When you are working ON the business, you are strategically planning for the future. When you are working IN the business, you are tactically responding to daily issues.

Once you are able to commit more time to working ON the business, the best place to start is with a strategic plan. We recommend taking key staff and stakeholders for a retreat - away from their daily tasks for the appropriate amount of time to develop a strategic plan.

3 Steps to Develop a Strategic Plan that Inspires Action and Delivers Results

1. Prep-Up – the preparation before the retreat
Leading-up to your strategic retreat, take the opportunity to engage with and gather information from your internal and external stakeholders. This provides them with an opportunity to think about the future and communicate their ideas via interviews, roundtables, surveys and/or other tools. This might include identifying the key trends and factors affecting the organization, and/or clarifying the organization’s purpose, vision, and core values.

2. Step-Up – the work that happens during the retreat
It’s important to leave your strategic retreat with completed work - a robust, relevant and complete strategic plan that the team can begin working on immediately. The plan should include the organization’s vision, the key strategies required to achieve the vision, and the tactical plan that identifies the required actions, ownership and timelines. In addition, the team must determine what they will measure and monitor to ensure progress is being made towards the goals.

In their book “Playing to Win – How Strategy Really Works”, Roger Martin and A.G. Lafley identify key questions to consider throughout your strategic process:

- What are your winning aspirations?

- Where will you play?

- How will you win?

- What capabilities must be in place?

- What management systems are required?

3. Follow-Up – the work after the retreat
Find the appropriate mechanism and frequency to hold your team accountable for the agreed upon actions as outlined in the strategic plan. I highly recommend the Green, Yellow and Red Light system as an accountability and reporting tool for your strategic plan. In the video below, former CEO of Ford Motor Company Alan Mulally talks from the Stanford Graduate School of Business about the power of using the Green, Yellow and Red Light system (starting at minute 26:15).

blueprint Basics
- Prioritize time working ON the business vs. IN the business.

- Develop a strategic plan for your organization with your key stakeholders.

- Enjoy the process - have fun and truly engage your teams while preparing, creating and deploying your strategic plan.

- Hold your team accountable to the actions and timelines developed in the plan.

- Don’t forget to celebrate key milestones and deliverables along the way!

A Negotiation blueprint: Top 5 Planning Tips

At blueprint, we believe that success can be planned, that winning is by design, and that you are the architect of your outcomes. Here are 5 tips to help unleash your potential the next time you are at the table:

  1. Value the Proposition: Work to understand exactly what it is that you want to achieve and be crystal clear about this. Understand the numbers, sure, but also understand the softer things that you may achieve, and try to put a value on them (e.g. the improvement in relationship, freezing out a competitor, future opportunity for growth etc.). Now comes the real trick... do the same for the person you are dealing with... intimately try to determine what exactly is in it for them. What will they get out of the deal if it goes through as planned? In our experience, good businesses are pretty good at working out what’s in it for themselves; the real trick is to equally seek to understand what is in it for the other party. It's the balance of what is in it for you AND what is in it for them that can determine who wants the deal more and what concessions should be tabled.
  2. Determine the Balance of Power: Produce a 'power analysis'... What things are giving you power in the lead up to this deal? What things are giving the other party power? Who holds the balance of power? Is it 50%-50% or 80%-20% or 30%-70%. Seek to understand this balance and then, importantly, try to produce a plan that will alter the balance of power more in your favour prior to the meeting taking place. This may mean that you have to do something (e.g. check out competitor pricing or check your supply chain logistics model, check specifications of product etc.). Whatever it is that you determine could give you more power, try to do it before the meeting date.
  3. Build your 'Shopping List': This is such an important step. We believe that the success of your next negotiation will almost certainly lie in the length and quality of your shopping list. What is it that you could ask for in order to make the deal work for yourself. Make a list of things that you want from the other party, don't be afraid to ask for them, and never run out of things to ask for.
  4. Build your 'Currency list': There is no such thing as a free lunch, in negotiation you have to be prepared to make concessions, at Blueprint we call these concessions 'Currencies' and you will literally swap shopping list items for currencies. Just as you would go to a supermarket with a shopping list in your hand and currency in your wallet, you take a tin of beans off the shelf because it is on your shopping list, when you get to the checkout you pay for it with the currency in your wallet. Negotiation is no different, be prepared to ask for what you want from your shopping list, but recognise that you may have to offer a 'currency' to pay for it. What things are you prepared to concede in order to make this deal work? Think about it and prepare your list of currencies. Remember that it is not weak to 'give' in negotiation, the trick is to ensure that you don't start a precedent and to ensure that you get something of at least equal value back in return.Recognize also that all shopping list items have value, and all                                       currencies have cost associated with them. It is wise and prudent to conduct a full cost-benefit analysis at this stage of your planning to ensure that the deal works commercially for you.
  5. Plan Your Tactics: There are so many things to consider here so, at this planning stage, give sufficient time to think about them (e.g. are you going into a hostile or a friendly environment? Will the deal be done at their office or yours? Who will be present on both sides? What will your opening gambit be? What do you anticipate theirs will be? What will be your first shopping list request and currency offer? What is your walk away position?). Remember to give equal consideration to the tactics the other party may employ and you counter-tactics.