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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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

Selling Is All About What The Buyer Wants, Not What You Want

By David Sables / June 16, 2012

In the UK we hate salespeople, but lawyers have always had our unconditional respect. Bizarrely,in the US it's the other way round: there is a huge stigma to being a lawyer while sales is a profession of choice. The ambulance chasers of the US ruined it for the lawyers while the loudmouthed, fast-talking door-to-door American types ruin it for salespeople here. Selling is a tarnished word in need of a... Read More

Be Specific About What It Is You Are Selling Before You Start To Sell

By David Sables / March 24, 2012

I ask account managers: "Which page do you write first when putting together a customer presentation?" They answer: "Page one, of course". And there you have it. The result is a meandering deck of fabulous information misfiring in all directions.  The fact that sales folk call their presentation a 'deck' at all should ring alarm bells - 52 slides and you don't have to look far to find a joker.... Read More

Play Hard Nosed Buyers At Their Own Game

By David Sables / March 17, 2012

Many were appalled by the recent stories of Waitrose imposing £60 fines for deliveries made 45 minutes late. But in truth, this is just Waitrose catching up on the more aggressive side of the procurement job. Imposing supply fines is just one of the hundreds of tactical squeezes that can be placed on suppliers by buyers. The transactional flow doesn't help the supplier much here and many are lost on... Read More

What Do Buyers Need? To Be Concise And Ask "Route One" Questions

By David Sables / January 28, 2012

So the UK furniture salesman was always a bit embarrassed that he was selling bigger chairs designed for the American market. One day a major buyer visited his stand at the NEC, "This chair looks bigger than normal," she said, inquisitively. "Not especially," replied the salesman. "Shame," she said, walking away. "I was looking for a range of big chairs." Knowing how to sell means knowing not just the key... Read More

Farmers Need The Skills To Fight Back

By David Sables / November 05, 2011

Last month the government responded to proposed amendments on the Groceries Code Adjudicator bill and financial penalties were rejected.  You should read publications on this stuff! Apart from the comedy of MPs defining what an indirect supplier is, you’ll see the focus appears to be ‘fairness’ to the retailer. Have they have forgotten the Bill’s purpose? If you were being bludgeoned by a thug, they wouldn’t give you a shield... Read More

Suppliers Must Learn To Look After Themselves

By David Sables / October 14, 2010

At Sentinel we advise suppliers in their dealings with supermarkets. With our team of ex-buyers and suppliers we specialise in overcoming the supermarkets' much-publicised tactics and pressure to help even the tables. Since the introduction of GSCOP in April, we have monitored these behaviours to see what difference the code of practice has made. Unfortunately, the answer is: not much. GSCOP is a snare and a delusion. It still boils... Read More