In The News

David Sables, CEO, and the Sentinel Team appear regularly on and in various media, commentating and giving insight on industry issues. David is a regular columnist within ‘the Grocer’ magazine, as well as being a contributor to Forbes.

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Buyers will only listen if they think they need your help

By David Sables / March 09, 2013

Let's say you can clearly see that a customer is missing a trick in category. There is a gap in their range for a product that has shown huge incremental category sales where you have introduced it in other customers, say. It's an open goal, a 'no brainier', yet still your buyer is not listening. Often the answer is in the buyer's mindset and this is the secret of how... Read More

A Warning For Suppliers

By David Sables / March 09, 2013

Have you noticed the retailers talking about their wonderful supplier relations, just when the new Groceries Code Adjudicator is announced? Funny that. Christine Tacon seems keen to do her bit to ensure fair play in the supply chain. However, I sit in a trusted position among suppliers and I can guarantee that most think invoking GSCOP would be as effective a business strategy as torching their factory! The retailer's obligation... Read More

With every call, find out something new about your customer

By David Sables / January 12, 2013

Twenty five years ago, selling in the grocery industry it was all very relationship dependent. The old lags slapped each others’ backs and told jokes. Then powerful customers became more demanding and relationship went out the window. Smarter sales teams replaced jokes with expertise and insight, and found that they had a new reason to be friends; buyers can’t resist being shown a way to make more money. Subsequently, customers... Read More

Know your promotion objectives before you select a promotion

By David Sables / December 01, 2012

Have you ever got to the checkout and been told: “These are on bogof so you can have another one free”? Or have you been notified of deals you were unaware of by the self-scanner? OK, you saved money, and you feel EPIC, but think about it. The businesses funding these promotions have rewarded you for something you were going to do anyway. This costs money. While there will always... Read More

Who says that selling is weak? That's just wrong

By David Sables / November 03, 2012

At a recent round or sales training events staged by the IGD, the speaker announced that justifying yourself was weak, and the more you sell the weaker you look. Sorry. That’s wrong. If you are part of a selling organisation you know with every fibre it’s wrong, and all your successes prove It’s wrong. Selling is the fundamental skill of an account manager. Selling is presenting your initiative to the... Read More

Tesco’s bad record on collaboration speaks for itself

By David Sables / October 20, 2012

The latest round of talk about closer collaboration with suppliers made me smile. Many relationship-hungry suppliers reserve insight and innovation for the Tesco account — only to find disappointment around the corner. Tesco’s behaviour then backfires, as suppliers become cautious and only prepared to tweak a generic category plan. This latest wave of ‘being nice’ fits perfectly with Tesco’s periodical ‘power plays’ and suppliers should be guarded. Oh — but... Read More

Don't just focus on promotions, there are other business drivers

By David Sables / October 06, 2012

OK: you’re running a sales organisation and you think you spend most of your time on the right priorities. Put it to the test, and start with the accounts teams. You may find that 8o% of a national account manager’s time is spent on promotions: proposing and agreeing deals to go on shelf. Many suppliers are running teams of glorified promotion bookers. Afraid they aren’t even doing that well either,... Read More

Top-to-top meetings are very important, but handle with care

By David Sables / September 08, 2012

I have in my hand a piece of paper,” says the CEO, stepping down from the company jet. “During my two-day market tour with Mr Wonderful, the head of Superchain, we have redefined a way of doing business. Our difficulties are a thing of the past.”Sounds great doesn’t it - senior managers from both customer and supplier getting together for a forward-thinking agenda without the presence of the account manager... Read More

Britvic Is In For A Squeeze Over Fruit Shoot

By David Sables / July 28, 2012

As I was gasping for a drink on a red hot summer's day at Alton Towers 12 years ago, a team of samplers came to the rescue with a cold, uniquely packaged juice drink the new Fruit Shoot. I feel for Britvic now the weather finally promises a much needed sales uplift - just as its 'spill-proof' Magicap bottles have been pulled. I'm certain those caps were tested and that the... Read More

Identifying Who You Are Selling To Is Key, Not Just How You Sell

By David Sables / July 14, 2012

It was brilliant. It had a rip-tape case, which saves time stacking shelves. He presented it to the buyer and got: “Yeah, all right, but you should tell the bloke over there.” So he went to the logistics office and explained the genius behind the new boxes: “Nice but whaddaya want me to do? Tell marketing.” So he went higher up, and rang the marketing director’s office to be told:... Read More