According to a new IBM study, CEOs and senior public sector leaders around the world are responding to today’s connected era with extensive partnering in order to achieve radical innovation.

Easier said than done.

How do leading executives partner successfully – both internally and with 3rd parties?

As a Corporate Trade organization whose business model depends entirely on a high level of partnership and relentless collaboration, we naturally have an opinion on the subject.

When done well, collaboration can translate to real bottom line benefits.  When done wrong it’s a missed opportunity—not to mention a waste of time.  And in times where no dollar should be left on the table, the second alternative is really no longer an option.

I’d like to share a unique customer story with you that touches on both ends of the spectrum using the Corporate Trade model.

A successful Canadian Industrial Apparel company approached Active International years ago because they were seeking an innovative way to solve an inventory management problem.  The CFO, who loved  the Corporate Trade model from a financial point of view, signed a million dollar deal.

The inventory had a market value of $457K. This Corporate Trade partnership would give the company $1.37MM for the same product, and they’d maintain full control of where the product was re-sold.

An incremental return of almost a million for very little effort? It was a no brainer.

With such a lucrative contract, why then, did it take years for the concept of our partnership to materialize?

Internal Alignment is Key to Corporate Trade Success

The Corporate Trade model (aka Corporate Barter) depends on different business units working together in alignment in order to work quickly and effectively.

In this circumstance, Finance controlled the inventory decision, and Marketing controlled the media planning and execution.  Marketing is (rightfully) very careful and selective with whom they trust their media.

So when the finance manager knocked on the marketing manager’s door “telling” them to place their media through an agency they hadn’t yet met, the idea didn’t get the warmest reception.

And with a million other things on Marketing’s plate, the unfortunate result was the trade credits were not leveraged.  The partnership came to a standstill, and the organization ran the risk of taking a loss instead of the intended incremental gain.

The Turning Point

In order to ensure our customer realized the outstanding return they were promised, we took action.

We got the CMO and CFO together for a collaborative discussion.  It was the perfect opportunity for all parties to air their goals, priorities and concerns, and for Active to clarify, educate and simplify.

The hour was well-invested indeed. After achieving 100% alignment, a 3-year trade credit redemption plan was put in place and all departments were engaged.

What happened next far exceeded the company’s expectations.

The Bottom Line

  • In addition to leveraging trade credits for their media, they now enjoy a 15-20% savings on all of their print/packaging and retail merchandising initiatives (store fixtures, custom display shelves, retail banners and packaging for their product)
  • Through Active Freight & Logistics, they pay between 12%-15% of their freight invoices with trade credits
  • Because the company overall has embraced the CFO’s initiative, over the past 3 years they have tripled their trade credit redemption rates, which has far exceeded original forecasts

Needless to say, when all departments are engaged and work collectively on the planning and execution of a project, it’s easier to manage and reaps more rewards.

In this case, to the tune of just under $1MM.


Partnership. Collaboration.  Alignment.  Corporate buzzwords or essential to bottom-line results? We’d love to hear from you.