1. Get to know the management team.
This is a major company decision and the people behind the TPM tool are critical. Check their backgrounds on LinkedIn and their websites. Does the management team have client side / CPG manufacturer experience working with major CPG brands and sizable trade budgets? The best TPM solutions are designed not by the IT development team but by CPG TPM manufacturer side experts who know how the solution should be used.
2. Make a live visit to their offices.
Is the team that works on your business there or across the globe? There’s no cost savings if you can’t get an answer when you need it. Meet the development team – what is their level of expertise and overall breadth of capabilities on site?
3. Check industry references.
Since the industry experts know all the TPM providers intimately ask for their input into the management team and capabilities of the different TPM providers. Speak to Mike Kantor at the Promotion Optimization Institute (POI) for his recommendation on the best TPM provider for small and medium size CPG manufacturers. If you subscribe to Gartner, ask Dale Hagelmeyer’s POV. And ask the right questions of the industry experts. Which company has the strongest management team expertise in understanding and helping small and medium size CPG manufacturers? Which company has the most satisfied clients with both the TPM solutions AND the support and service from the provider’s team?
4. Check several client references.
Any TPM provider can provide a couple of references. But ask for numerous references to get a broad perspective. Ask the right questions of the references. How comfortable are they with the provider’s; Current management and support teams? Understanding of your business? Company direction? The most recent TPM solution in terms of ease of use and capabilities? How helpful was the training? Their TPM solution Roadmap? Ability to provide services beyond the TPM solution to maximize trade promotion effectiveness?
5. Schedule A Discovery Call.
Outline your specific needs and determine if they have addressed those needs in their solution. As the right questions about the TPM solution; How many and what type / size of their clients are on each solution? What are the upgrade plans and roadmap for each solution? Will any be discontinued or phased out in the next few years? How many releases have they had recently? What is the frequency of updates? Is it a SaaS solution in the cloud? Then ask the right questions about additional services; What type of additional services do they provide beyond the TPM solution to maximize your trade promotion effectiveness? Can they help with TPM solution diagnostics and compliance? Can they help administer the solutions? Can they help analyze key retailers and promoted groups to find ROI opportunities? Can they help with overall trade marketing planning? Can they help with best practices in TPM and training?