In 1938 Lloyd Merritt DVM and his wife, Jennie, opened Merritt Veterinary Supplies, Inc. in SC to provide pharmaceuticals, biologicals and equipment to other area veterinarians for the care of livestock and other large farm animals. The operation began in a building behind their home in Sumter, South Carolina. The Merritt family ran the business by themselves up until the late 1940's when they added their first outside sales representative.
In 1949, Dr. Merritt passed away and Jennie assumed operation of the family business. It was then that Lloyd Merritt, Jr. began helping his mother in the warehouse while still in school. After graduation from college and two years of service in the Army, he officially joined the company in 1964.
Lloyd Merritt, Jr. started in the warehouse, re-familiarizing himself with the business and inventory. One year later, he took to the road to open up the North Carolina sales territory. This venture was very successful and he continued to work as a salesman until his mother retired in 1973. At this time, Lloyd Merritt, Jr. took over as President of Merritt Veterinary Supplies, Inc.
Over the years, the company has grown considerably. The corporate office relocated in 1996 to its present site in Columbia, South Carolina. Prior to this move, they opened their second distribution center in Birmingham, Alabama, followed by a third center several years later in Longwood, Florida, and more recently a fourth distribution center in Raleigh, North Carolina.
Merritt offers a comprehensive line of products sold exclusively to licensed veterinarians throughout the Southeastern United States. The company is known for its expansive list of biologicals, pharmaceuticals, bio-equivalents, diagnostics, white goods, and equipment. Many of these products are considered staple items in the veterinary field, while other products are exclusive to Merritt and only available to their customers.
What started as a two-person operation for area veterinarians has turned into a multi-level operation with over one hundred employees, including support staff, numerous Territory Sales Managers and Customer Service Representatives. There is a high level of expertise among the staff at Merritt and an eagerness to provide unparalleled customer service.
Merritt's customer service center features a team of veterinary technicians who are prepared to assist their clients with product knowledge, literature, promotions, and order fulfillment. Territory Sales Managers are always available to schedule appointments designed to help veterinarians and practice managers facilitate the growth of their practice. At Merritt, every customer is partnered with one or more Customer Service Representatives and a Territory Sales Manager.
The effectiveness of a sales and marketing organization has traditionally been measured by benchmarking against key internal metrics, specifically historic sales, sales forecasts and relative performance across a peer group, usually a sales team.
This traditional approach is an example of a “one-dimensional analysis” and ignores, in large part, the competitive dynamics of the larger market, primarily due to a lack of reliable and comprehensive competitive information. Sales professionals tend to reject a company’s use of “subjective” metrics such as projected market penetrations or total market growth as a basis for performance-based compensation given their perception as “unfair and arbitrary” values. As a result, managers often are forced to use the traditional internal metrics of sales vs. plan, sales vs. previous year and sales growth versus total company growth, as principal elements in determination of annual performance bonuses and salary increases even though they recognize these metrics are not well correlated with true market performance.
With the introduction of the Animalytix Market Survey, it is now possible to measure and link performance to objective metrics which more accurately reflect the value of a given representative’s performance. Animalytix makes it possible to assess performance across three dimensions, expanding the benchmarking capability to include the market at large and the performance of individual competitors. This allows managers to view sales representative performance in the "context of the market" providing invaluable insight on performance over time for any given sales representative or product.
This case study illustrates the performance of Lynn Smith, a territory representative for Cyntex Animal Health in the Kentucky / Tennessee territory. In the example, Lynn’s performance is compared with the key competitor for this territory, the sales representative from AgriVet, Inc. To read more, download the full case study here.
Animalytix in Action Case Study #1 examined the utilization of “Three-Dimensional Performance Analysis” as a primary means of assessing sales force effectiveness. In contrast to traditional evaluations which focus only on internal metrics, the “3-D” analysis incorporates direct comparisons to overall market performance and performance versus key benchmark competitors. By expanding the evaluation to include these external metrics, senior sales leaders can effectively assess actual performance versus true potential.
This case study applies these principals to a regional sales team and assesses relative performance among a group of 12 large animal sales territories over a defined time period. The analytical methodology and presentation format were chosen by the assigned Animalytix Senior Business Advisor responsible for developing the case study. A variety of alternative metrics and presentations can also be compiled from the underlying Animalytix survey data as needed to best fit the objectives of any manufacturer interested in conducting this type of analysis. To read more, download the full case study here.
This exercise examined the utilization of “Three-Dimensional Performance Analysis” as a primary means of assessing sales force effectiveness. In contrast to traditional evaluations which focus only on internal metrics, the “3-D” analysis incorporates direct comparisons to overall market performance and performance versus key benchmark competitors. By expanding the evaluation to include these external metrics, senior sales leaders can effectively assess actual performance versus true potential.
This case study applies these principals to the ruminant markets of southern California and Nevada and assesses relative performance among the leading premium anti-infectives over a 36 month period. A moving annual total analysis was prepared for the most recent 24 months. Products underlying the results were chosen by the Sponsor and the findings compiled from the Animalytix ALYX Market Survey data base. To read more, download the full case study here.
Every company wants to be financially successful. But, what does that mean? Are you a success any time you beat earning expectations or sales versus the previous year or the previous quarter? What if you improved your top line by 75%? Is that good enough for first place in your division? It might be, but it all depends on what the competition is doing.
Many organizations have a tendency to measure performance based on prior year’s results. This is a legitimate measure and has some utility as a measure of performance, but it lacks context. Current sales versus previous year’s sales focus strictly on internal metrics and are poorly suited to evaluate the true competitive status of an organization. Companies must always look externally to know the real market potential and their relative position within a market.
Let’s take a page from America’s pastime: baseball. My beloved Orioles finished in last place in the American League East last year. As of 8 June, they were having a much better season this year, improving their winning percentage 75% from the same point in the season last year — .276 to .483. In 5 out of 6 MLB divisions, this .483 took them out of the basement and gave them some hope of making a playoff run; sounds like a success.
Hold on a minute — with Boston and New York over .600 and the next to last team in the division, Toronto, hovering near .500, the O’s are still firmly in last place in the AL East and have virtually no chance to be in the hunt for a title. Furthermore, they have tanked over the last month; as of the All-Star break, they dropped to .409. Unfortunately for me, this shatters my initial elation over a huge double-digit improvement.
Baseball is the king of leveraging numbers and statistics, and this is a simple example. But, what if you could measure your company’s sales performance within the various ‘divisions’ and territories and know if you are moving the needle to a 1st or 2nd place finish? Fortunately now you can with the ALYX Market Survey Reporting Series, and since it is published monthly, you can keep an eye on the progress and make sure it is not falling off the cliff, like the O’s.
The latest Animalytix in Action case study, a Sales Force Effectiveness Evaluation, clearly demonstrates the power of analyzing sales performance within local markets. The study demonstrates the importance of evaluating performance at the most relevant level. Is the 23% market share in Territory #10 another great success, or more of a late season hitting slump? Take a look at the study and see how Animalytix can help you determine the true performance of your sales team.
And remember, Animalytix can help you see the field but it’s up to you whether you’re ready to play ball.
Bryan Gathagan, Senior Information Advisor
Back in the late ‘90s, I made a career change and encountered a bit of a shock. Like many of today’s financial and IT professionals in animal health, my professional education and experience was far removed from the veterinary and agricultural professions. In my case, it was mortgage-backed securities, credit cards, and teaching at the university level. You can’t get much different.
Being fresh out of Business school and having been a part of a great team that helped propel MBNA’s meteoric rise into a credit-card industry powerhouse, my focus was delivering measurable results based on facts, evidence, and data. Our timelines at MBNA had been measured in days, not weeks, months or years, so ready access to volumes of reliable market intelligence was both standard operating procedure and critical to our efforts. Upon transitioning to animal health, I quickly realized the access to market insight would not support the Porsche-like speeds we were accustomed to in the banking industry. There was soon no doubt that then it came to market intelligence, animal health was going to be an “off-road” experience, complete with the potholes, washed out gullies and other obstacles along the way.
The practical implications were soon apparent. No matter the nature of the financial exercise, be it the development of discounted cash flows, budget projections, promotional campaign justifications or capital investments, the underlying financial assumptions were more intuitively than objectively based. Senior management explained their over-reliance on “intuition” and “gut reactions” was due, in large part, to the lack of credible market information. Through the whole experience, I felt like we were driving down the road with little or no instrumentation. Absent good data, we were driving blind and exposed to any number of poor business outcomes, all stemming from an inability to measure true performance.
Fast-forward to today, a financial executive entering the animal health industry now encounters a very different situation. Not only have internal systems improved significantly thanks to the adoption of SAP and similar platforms, access to meaningful sales information has recently improved as well. With the introduction of the Animalytix®, CFOs, Controllers and other financial officers now have a wealth of market intelligence at their fingertips.
Thanks to Animalytix®, it is no longer necessary to base key decisions primarily on subjective evaluations or “gut instincts.” With more than $12 bln in historic market information coving 5+ years and more than 147,000 vets, livestock producers, retailers, and other customers, robust market intelligence is now available for a broad array of market segments. For critical decisions, financial executives can now rely on timely, comprehensive and fact-based market information, delivered in a format specifically designed for their operational requirements.
So if you are responsible for the financial operations of your company, and you have an interest in moving your market intelligence platform from “off-road” to the Information Superhighway, take Animalytix® for a spin. Let us show you how to put our tachometers to work helping you remove the guesswork in your daily operations and driving greater performance from your organization.