Key account management as we know plays a key role in today’s business. Shifting from a transaction driven model to a relationship driven model, key account management has helped many businesses from different industries incrementally improve their profitability.
In today’s article, I would like to highlight how Tecpacking captured the global giant “Unilever” as a key account. The purpose behind sharing this experience is to enable everyone striving to win key accounts to understand the practicality and hard work required.
As you may know, Lipton by Unilever is a giant in the tea industry. It is a successful brand due to its wide acceptance and successful business operation. Most of the suppliers in tea packaging would like to partner with a giant such as Lipton in order to be well recognized and highlighted in the industry. Partnering with a global giant will also enable the suppliers to reach the highest standards.
Tecpacking had been operating since early 2000’s and with over a decades experience in the tea packaging space, the Company was getting highlighted by many of the customers. Being a seasoned packaging supplier to the global tea industry, we used to take part in many exhibitions. At one of the key exhibitions, the Lipton team visited our stall to speak to us and understand our product and service offerings. We were amazed and humbled by the fact that Lipton visited our stall, and we pitched to Lipton by offering customized services to meet certain specific needs they had. We knew that Lipton mainly used machinery from Germany, Italy and Japan - and therefore we did not anticipate that this visit would one day turn us into partners.
A few days after the exhibition, we got an unique requirement from Lipton. They wanted to use the pyramid tea bag packing machine to pack the big pouch, which was similar to the 40g one’s. The other machine suppliers in the market were able to pack only the 2-5g tea bags just like us. However, since Lipton presented us with an unique challenge we decided to take it on. The requirement of Lipton was advanced as it was not just developing the machine but also meet other strict rules such as quality control, safety, overall equipment effectiveness and many more. While the challenge was enormous, we considered it to be a good opportunity to be seized in order to be partners with the giant and get ourselves in the limelight. Also, we realized that if we could become successful it would enable us lift our international standards.
Once we received the green light from the Lipton team to develop the machine we started off by scheduling a series of meetings with Lipton in order to clearly understand their demands and requirements. During the meetings I personally understood that this was a big challenge for Lipton too as not many suppliers are capable of delivering to their expectations. Lipton needed a supplier they wanted to work closely with who would share the same vision in terms of developing this product. If you want to be partners with fast paced multinational organisations, be sure to understand their demands very clearly and at the same time project your confidence to match their expectations. This is very important.
Once Lipton’s demands were clear to us we had many internal meetings to study their demands in full detail, and divide the scope of work into different departments. By doing so we made a comprehensive plan on how we would be achieving our objective. After a strenuous period of 4 months, we finally achieved our objective. While the Lipton team was extremely satisfied with the product, Tecpacking too won the trust of Unilever. There were many learning areas for Tecpacking as a whole. One such learning was that we configured the equipment around safety. This was something which we had not done before. While this sounds funny, many small companies without international exposure do not know about this. We too, learnt about it only after working with Lipton. Now all our machines have the safety functionality built in. As per Lipton we did a magnificent job and we were well recognized by them. It was highlighted that Tecpacking managed to deliver this unique arduous requirement in a very short time span which other leading and established machine suppliers have not been able to do.
All in all this was a fantastic learning experience for Tecpacking. It was a big win for Tecpacking and our products and services are now being recommended by Unilever as well. Unilever’s Lipton is now a key account of Tecpacking and we are constantly keeping pace with this fast paced multinational to continuously meet their changing demands.