Scottish Wholesale Achievers: what's in it for the sponsors?

Martin Dyer, senior national account manager at SHS Sales & Marketing (GB) Ltd - sponsor of Best Licensed Wholesaler (On-Trade) in Achievers 2012 - tells us why he supports the imitative.


Why sponsor Achievers?

Scottish Wholesale Achievers has a reputation that reaches far beyond Scotland. It's an important date in our diary and SHS Sales & Marketing has attended each event for the last 10 years, watching it grow in size and reputation.

At the same time, we've grown too by increasing our product portfolio and our presence in the Scottish market. We represent a number of well-known brands so when we consider the SWA, we know it is a prime vehicle for us to reach out to people who perhaps know our brands, such as WKD, but don't always know what we do.

As a supplier member of the Scottish Wholesale Association, we understand the organisation and its aims. Supporting Achievers is an extension of that relationship and provides an opportunity for us to get to know - and better understand - Scottish wholesalers.


Was there a "hard sell" to convince you to sponsor Achievers?

Like all companies we weigh up the business case before making any investment and want to be 100% committed to the events we get behind. We recognise that there has never been a better time to support Achievers and our positive experiences of the SWA throughout the years eased our decision as we considered the benefits of an SHS Sales & Marketing-sponsored category.


Were you sceptical?

Perhaps ever so slightly in terms of the information entrants would be prepared to divulge about their business. I'd heard other sponsors talk about how much time and effort goes into judging Achievers and what they get out of it.

When I was told that entrants open up their business to scrutiny I was disbelieving, but that scepticism soon disappeared. Every single question we asked was answered in detail and I wasn't really expecting that willingness to share such information.


Describe your personal experience of being an Achievers sponsor

Talking to wholesalers before we sponsored, I was also under no illusions that it would require a big commitment from us. We went into it with our eyes wide open and hungry for knowledge about the wholesalers entering Achievers.

The level of detail that wholesalers provide really surprised me. You know roughly what to expect, but until you are actually sitting down with a wholesaler in their depot talking about their business, nothing really prepares you for that level of openness.

I was struck by the enthusiasm of all the wholesalers I spoke to. Whether it was through a PowerPoint presentation or speaking off the cuff, they were all highly positive and well prepared. That really blew me away!

It is a unique chance for a supplier to get closer to wholesalers and strengthen relationships with them. We learn so much more about how they do business and that, in turn, helps us improve how we can work with those individual wholesalers and the wider wholesale sector.

Getting involved in Achievers gives you a rich appreciation of the hard work and professionalism that is invested from the submission of the entries through to the co-ordination of the judging.

Each entry is scrutinised on its own merit by independent judges at the top of their game. Those shortlisted for Scottish Wholesale Achievers can claim to be the very best in the industry and that's why SHS Sales & Marketing is proud to sponsor.


Has being an Achievers sponsor changed the way you perceive the SWA?

We have always held the SWA in high esteem and that has not changed. However, my perception of the event has changed in an  extremely positive way, and I  relay that view when I meet suppliers and wholesalers at business meetings and industry events, both here in Scotland and across the UK. I encourage wholesalers to enter Achievers in the future.

If I have a discussion with a prospective sponsor, I will relay my positive experience to that supplier.


How do you think Achievers differs from other industry awards initiatives?

The level of detail that entrants are prepared to divulge is a major difference. For businesses to share this information underlines the trust and respect that exists for the Achievers.

The feedback aspect of Achievers is also a valuable component of the whole process. As a sponsor, you are asked to reconnect with each entrant in your category, sharing comprehensive feedback on where you believe they score highly and where you think there's room for improvement. Wholesalers in our category - Best Licensed Wholesaler (On-Trade) - have actively sought that feedback. That's very refreshing from a supplier's point of view.


Are you sponsoring again?

Yes, we have committed to supporting Achievers next year although we have yet to confirm which category we will be sponsoring.


What would you say to anyone - supplier or SWA wholesale member - who remains sceptical about the competition?

For wholesalers: "Enter the competition. It will help you identify strengths and weaknesses in your business and help you focus on the areas that may require immediate attention. It will also keep you and your staff on your toes, challenge you to think how you could do things differently and try out new processes and strategies."

For suppliers, I say: "SHS Sales & Marketing gained such valuable experience from sponsoring Achievers that I can't understand why others wouldn't want to expose themselves to the same positive experience. Yes, there is a time commitment, but that is an investment that is rewarding and builds better relationships with Scotland's wholesalers."

Achievers has been instrumental in boosting exposure of SHS Sales & Marketing and our brands. We have been able to network with other suppliers we may not have reached. Getting closer to the wholesalers has made it worthwhile for us.

Before Achievers, I hadn't fully appreciated just how passionate Scottish wholesalers are about their businesses, and how committed they are to what they do often in very challenging circumstances. I am very proud to be part of this industry.


If you are a supplier interested in finding out more about Achievers and how you can get involved, please email Kate Salmon or call her on 0131 556 8753.