20 Steps to Route to Market Excellence

You will find this helpful if you are looking to achieve brand distribution, volume and profit growth while improving efficiency and effectiveness of your Route to Market strategy and execution.

Route to Market Strategy (or Trade Marketing & Distribution Strategy, or Sales Execution Strategy or whatever name is used), provides a roadmap to get your products, from your factory or warehouse to your customers, distributors and/or end-users, in the most efficient and effective manner, with the aim of growing sales while satisfying customers.

Our 20 Steps to Route to Market Excellence methodology was developed by Ross Marié, a 20+ year veteran of sales, trade marketing and RtM strategy and implementation. Ross joined Enchange a number of years ago and in developing the 20 Steps model has built on the insight and hands on experience our team has built up in operational roles and as consultants with the biggest multinational companies across the globe. Read more on our experts and their RtM expertise here.

Our methodology combines decades of operational execution, commercial insight and proven best practice to give you the strategy, tools, organisation and execution capability to drive your sales forward and achieve customer satisfaction.

Our systematic approach, which we tailor to your needs, takes you through the four phases of Assessment, Strategy, Design and Implementation covering 20 crucial steps leading your organisation to excellence in Route to Market execution.

We have a proven methodology that has consistently delivered sales uplift

  • RtM Programme, FMCG – Distribution network optimised, territory extensions and new distributor contracts – bottom line impact >Euro 11 million per annum.
  • RtM Programme, FMCG – Distribution network optimised, major improvement in market information, national distribution centre started, financial benefits (from sales uplift and reduced logistics costs) estimated at USD 2-3 million per annum.
  • RtM Transformation, FMCG – designed and implemented a new end-to-end RtM and distribution. Bottom line savings >USD 3.6 million, working capital improvement GBP 1 million, zero stock outs and a doubling of the company’s share price.
  • RtM Transformation (multi-site), FMCG – all RtM processes in scope, new distribution structure, fewer higher quality, better financed, distributors. Bottom line savings of several millions of USD and significant sales growth.

In summary, it works

…and we have been delivering RtM Excellence in Execution to our clients for 25 years.

Here is what the 20 Steps to Route to Market Excellence looks like:

20 steps to route to market excellence model update


To start with, you should review and understand (not guess) every element of your current RtM set up.  This should include reviewing your ‘current’ 20 steps across your RtM. This should include the performance of current and available distributors, field force, back office, sales management, operations, CRM, to name a few. We also recommend reviewing RtM operations of competitors and best in class non-competing companies.

STEP 1   Review Current RtM Performance – Strategy, the Existing 20 Steps that are present, SWOT Analysis from Our Standpoint, Work Practices, Metrics, Portfolio Analysis (Pricing & SKU Segmentation) & effect on RtM, advanced RtM Data Analytics, etc. Read more on our supply chain and RtM analytics solution here.

STEP 2   Consumer & Market Mapping – Consumer Behaviour & Trends, Specify Geographic Realities, Trade Landscape, Point of Sale (Direct/Indirect), Key Battlegrounds, Must Wins

STEP 3   Distributor Assessment (Direct/Indirect/3rd Parties) – Visit Client Distributors, Access Current Distributors. Read more on our programme to assess distributors’ performance here. Download our Distributor Performance Guide here.

STEP 4   Competitor Analysis – Competitive, Non-Competitive, Best in Class, Competitor SWOT Analysis. Download a copy of our  Competitor SWOT Analysis Template.

Deliverables of this phase include:

  • Current RtM performance – A-Z of Current Performance covering the 20 steps.
  • Portfolio & Pricing Analysis – Overview of Brand Portfolio, Price, Portfolio & SKU Segmentation, Pricing Strategy & Execution
  • Distributor Performance Assessment (Quantitative & Qualitative) vs Best in Class
  • Competitors – Model of Competitor RtM, Competitor Portfolio and Best in Class RtM Models
  • Market Map – Current Consumer Behaviour & Geographic Nuances, Outlets by Channel and Coverage Map (Direct & Indirect)


Based on the extensive review in steps 1 to 4, looking strategically across the 20 steps and working closely with your cross functional and interdepartmental teams, map out your customised RtM Strategy and approach to deliver your strategic goals.

STEP 5   RtM Strategy & the 4D Approach

  • Overall Approach to RtM linked to commercial goals
  • Detail what success looks like
  • DIME Approach (Direct, Indirect, Mix & Everything in between). You can learn more about our DIME Approach here.
  • Define requirements across 4D’s (Distribution, Display, Dialogue, Digital). Read our views on Digital in FMCG RtM here.
  • Link them to the organisation goals
  • Strategy Map to Define Dependencies & Ensure Organisation Buy-in

Deliverables of this phase include:

  • 4D RtM Strategy & Approach
  • RtM Strategy Map – Highlighting Key Dependencies of RtM Strategy Components. Read more and see an example of an RtM Strategy Roadmap here.


In this phase focus should be to design the specific steps that deliver the RtM strategy. This includes classifying each point of sale/outlet against chosen criteria, segmenting these into channels, building territories to cover the market, designing the required RtM structure to deliver this.

The right data and metrics need to be available. A Sales Incentive Programme to support RtM goals should be developed, and the sales force need to be equipped with the required toolkit to deliver. Finally, a Trade Incentive Programme to partner with your customers is needed and the right technology needs to be in place.

STEP 6    Outlet Classification – Target precious RtM Resources at the right retail outlets.  Classify each retail store physically and then Segment For Gold.

STEP 7    Channel Classification – Review, Prioritise, Define Channels, Sub-channels, Management & Resource. Learn more about the 9 key areas to focus on when building your Channel Strategy here.

STEP 8    Territory Planning – Geography, Link to Market Mapping, Trade Coverage, Resource FTEs (To Be vs. As Is)

STEP 9    RtM Structure – Define Field Force & Back Office – Distribution, Merchandising, Promotions, Telemarketing, Customer Services, Events, Trade Marketing, Horeca, etc

STEP 10  Data & Metrics Define Current Capability, New Data Requirements, Revenue Management Model (e.g. maximising revenue with efficient territory planning, route optimisation, sales targets, incentives, understanding Total Cost to Serve Model etc.), New KPIs, Reporting. See a Balanced Scorecard example here.

STEP 11   Sales Incentive Programme (SIP)– Successes, New Targets including Volume, Brand Distribution, Point of Sales (POS), Visits, etc.

STEP 12  Trade Tool Kit –  Outlet Execution & Activation, Define Must Haves including Order Capture, Order Method, POS Material Placement & Management, Planograms, Portfolio & Pricing Process & Initiatives, Trade Incentives & Promotions, Trade Engagement Options, etc.

STEP 13 Trade Incentive Programme (TIPs) – Review Successes, Promote Loyalty, Develop Options

STEP 14  Technology – Define Technology Requirements for CRM, Hand Helds, Order Capture, Trade Marketing, Trade Data capture, Trade Census Management, Track Customer Compliance to Terms, Planogram Compliance, RtM Data Analytics, etc.

Deliverables of this phase include:

  • Outlets – Customer Outlets Classified & Segment for Gold.
  • Channels – Channel & Sub Channel Management Plan
  • Territories – New Territories, Resource Plan, Route Plans, Target Calls & Frequency
  • Structure – Defined Field Force (Type, Numbers, Structure) and Cost to Serve Model. See practical Cost to Serve examples here.
  • Data & Metrics – Roadmap including Requirements, Capture & Systems, New KPIs, Revenue Management Model, Defined Qualitative and Quantitative Reporting.
  • SIP – New Sales Incentive Programme & Training Plan
  • Trade Tool Kit – New Trade Tool Kit, Toolkit Process, Agreed Approach & Training Plan
  • TIPs – New Trade Incentive Programme & Training Plan
  • Technology Roadmap & Plan


Now is the time to focus on implementation. Depending on the strategy chosen either pilot, scenario plan or implement the new approach with your teams.

STEP 15  Distributor Partnership Programme – Develop Model Distributor, Strategy, Approach, Development Plan & Execution for each Distributor. Learn more about Distributor and Wholesaler Management here. Read a Distributor Partnership Programme example here.

STEP 16  Third Degree Partnerships (3DPs) – based on current Distributor needs & issues, identify 3DPs and implement program. Read our blog post on 3DPs here for more information. Download our Guide on 3DPs here.

STEP 17  Key Account Management (KAM) – Define KAM Needs, Relationship Management & Negotiation, Develop & Implement Trading terms, Train KAMs

STEP 18  Training & Upgrading – Rollout Programme to support all aspects of new RtM. Include ‘Steps of the Call’, ongoing Training Programme. Roll out New RtM Development (NRD) approach to ensure Continuous Improvement. Download our RtM training guide – The 10 Key Steps of FMCG Sales Call here.

 STEP 19  Functional Integration – Map Out & Execute RtM links to other Functions, especially Marketing & Supply Chain (Sales Forecasting/Inventory Management/Out of Stocks Prevention). Also include Finance, Operations, IT & HR. Integrate new RtM with Sales & Operational Planning (S&OP). To understand how and for an example, read here.

STEP 20  Culture & Leadership – Ensure Top Team & CEO Active Support from Step 1. Develop & Execute Supporting Change Management Plan. Develop & Execute Clear Messaging. Develop Cross-Functional Buy-In & Support.

NEXT STEP  Continuous Improvement – Monitor 20 Steps effectiveness, review the approach and ensure continuous improvement.

Deliverables of this phase include:

  • Distributors – Defined & Agreed Model, Development Plans, New Contracts & SLAs, New Performance System, Transition Plans
  • 3DP – Partnerships, Negotiation Plan & Programme Rollout
  • Training – Defined Programme, Workshops, Train-the-Trainer, On-The-Job Coaching, RtM Centre of Excellence
  • KAM Programme – Defined KAM Approach, Rules of Engagement, Negotiation Strategy & Rules
  • New RTM Development (NRD) – The New Continuous Improvement Programme (covering 20 Step), How to Capture & Spread Success
  • Functional Integration – New Functional Interfaces Embedded, S&OP and RtM Integrated
  • Culture & Leadership – Change Management Plan, Workshops to Support Plan
  • Continuous Improvement – Follow Up Plan to ensure sustainability and continuous improvement.


There are many factors that will affect the amount of time to either build or to review an existing RtM model.

For example, although Route to Market strategy development is an iterative process, we encourage clients to complete a process within a 3 to 4 month period from starting the Assessment to delivering the Strategy. We have found that if the process extends much further, something inevitably changes (e.g. the environment), and organisations can get caught in a semi-permanent analysis state, resulting in delayed strategic decisions.

Our experience is that it takes a further 3 to 4 months to Design a new RtM model and commence the process of Implementation with your teams.

All Enchange Route to Market Programmes Deliver a Sales Uplift, Typically Starting at 15%

What you should do now

  • Download our step-by-step guide to review, build and/or transform your RtM Strategy and Execution.  20 Steps to Route to Market Excellence – A Guide to Implementation is available here.
  • If you would like us to improve your RtM execution – to increase brand distribution volume and profit growth, contact us for a Free RtM Session.  During this free phone consultation, one of our experts will discuss your RtM goals and suggest strategies to achieve RtM excellence in execution

Additional RtM Resources

  • Find further details on each step of our methodology on our blog. See related posts here.
  • To understand what is involved in distributor assessment download our Distributor Assessment Guide here.
  • To understand the capability of your distributors to achieve your sales objectives download our Free Distributor Assessment Tool here.
  • To learn practical, hands-on advice on how to improve your FMCG distribution operations in CEE and developing markets download our RtM & Distribution in CEE E-Book here.
  • For help with implementing 3rd Degree Partnerships download our Guide here.