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Crossmark CEO Schuckenbrock Discusses New Biz Model

On the heels of Crossmark unveiling a new business model to speed sales growth and drive efficiencies for its clients and customers, Progressive Grocer conducted a Q&A with Steve Schuckenbrock, CEO of the Plano, Texas-based sales and marketing services organization, to learn more details.

PG: What is most significant to note about this news in terms of most dramatic changes?

SCHUCKENBROCK: This is a new and innovative business model unique to the sales and marketing services industry designed to drive faster sales growth and greater efficiencies for our clients and customers.

The model is comprised of five key growth drivers, including: seamless integration of sales and marketing capabilities; dedicated client teams; dedicated retailer and channel teams; disciplined planning; and tailored execution.

PG: Briefly contrast/compare the former business model with the new one.

SCHUCKENBROCK: The legacy model was one common in the SMA industry, that is essentially a portfolio of sales and marketing service offerings executed at a regional level.

Our new model seamlessly integrates sales and marketing capabilities to deliver smarter solutions from “thought to bought."

To be more specific, the integration of analytics, sales and merchandising expertise, and consumer and shopper engagement capabilities creates an array of disciplines focused on efficiently growing our clients’ brands:  driving greater penetration; faster speed to market; and meaningful engagement with consumers and shoppers to influence purchase behavior.

Additionally, our new model has dedicated client teams and dedicated retailer and channel teams to fully maximize opportunities by integrating sales and marketing functions to more quickly identify opportunities and early watch-outs; deliver ROI-driven plans; streamline development; and ensure clear coordination and linkage from insights to activation.

The historic approach still used broadly in the industry burdens local teams to spread time and expertise between planning, client management and retailer execution, which often ends in a breakdown of skill, and ultimately doesn’t optimize client growth.

We have aligned individual expertise specific to the needs of each client, which allows for unmatched integration to the client’s marketing and sales organizations, enabling us to develop more innovative and impactful retailer and channel plans. This integrated focus creates a level of client intimacy and expertise that is needed to “find the growth engines” within each client and brand.

What doesn’t change is unparalleled Crossmark execution at the store level.

PG: Please share examples of some of the new processes, tools and skills that are referenced in the announcement.

SCHUCKENBROCK: Our advanced analytics system enables our front-line teams to access and analyze data at a more micro level than ever before without an army of IT specialists, data experts, and high expense.

This enables them to combine the art of closing a sale with the science of analyzing retail sales, market share, and competitive data, ultimately driving effectiveness and efficiencies as a result of knowing precisely when and where resources need to be focused. 

We have developed an insights-driven national planning process which connects macro strategies to micro execution. The foundation of this capability is a system we call Crossview, which is evolving to a new cloud-based approach [which] allows manufacturer-clients to achieve faster and better sales results through greater visibility and analysis of opportunities and risks across a vast array of retailers.

We proactively and more quickly are able to identify and leverage key consumer, category and channel trends that allows us to develop better plans for our clients. 

Our front-line teams are in stores day in and day out with precise instruction on how to grow our clients’ business, based on a plan developed from key insights and local knowledge. 

Our new field-force activation system, named Axis, enables us to tailor and execute plans with greater agility, precision and speed. The system assigns the right talent to the right locations at the right time; our targeting and execution process allows work to be created and executed in the same day.

We identify what needs to be done and where by leveraging cumulative knowledge and insights from common and proprietary data sets. This allows us to understand more about the characteristics of individual stores to ensure the right course of action is taken.

A measurement system validates the specific activities performed and fuels continuous improvement by evaluating performance outcomes. This targeted and prescriptive approach enables executional excellence to deliver growth for our clients and customers.

PG: How will this new business model directly benefit retailers?

SCHUCKENBROCK: Crossmark's dedicated retailer and channel teams are specialists in understanding how to drive growth at a retailer or in a channel, for both the supplier’s brands as well as the retailer’s category. In addition, these dedicated teams work closely with retailers in providing solutions for better shopping experiences through world-class shopper engagement, product sampling and 'retailtainment' programs, as well as management of merchandising programs to drive greater efficiencies and ensure maximum impact at the point of purchase.

Our dedicated retailer & channel teams have strong connectivity to retailers, and provide them growth opportunities as well as demonstrating a clear understanding of their go-to-market strategy, from pricing and merchandising to hyper-local marketing and shopper engagement.

We ensure that a unique and appropriate strategy is developed and executed with speed and precision for each client’s brand, which ultimately drives revenue growth for both the client and retailer. The results are the most specific, most thoughtful, and best-prepared plans for a brand in the industry.

PG: What are the biggest benefits it offers consumers?

SCHUCKENBROCK: Through our integrated planning process, insights capability, and tailored execution, we will deliver smart and timely consumer-centric solutions in order to ensure consumers and shoppers benefit through meaningful experiences, information, and offers that are targeted and relevant to them.

Our integrated system and field force of sales and merchandising professionals and event specialists provide greater assurance that all programming is executed as planned both out of store and in store, with proper merchandising, product availability, and highly effective engagement with consumers and shoppers.

PG: What impact will it have with existing/prospective Crossmark clients?

SCHUCKENBROCK: Our new model provides a level of insights and focus for each client that is not seen throughout our industry, designed to drive faster growth and greater efficiencies.

Crossmark’s dedicated client teams are accountable to drive growth for each of the brands of each of their respective clients through the complete integration of sales and marketing and the dedicated client and retailer teams. 

Our dedicated client teams fully understand the growth areas for each client, and collaborate with Crossmark’s insights, planning, operations, and dedicated retailer and channel teams to deliver solutions for faster, sustainable growth, allows for more effective ways of managing the needs of our clients at large retailers as well as the 'long tail' of hundreds of smaller retailers – all of which provide meaningful sources for growth. 

The combination of our innovative planning, analytical prowess, and technology enabled field force ensures greater client and customer satisfaction, speed to market, on-shelf availability, and relevant connectivity to consumers and shoppers in store and out of store to drive conversion. 

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