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Working at Cross-Purposes: How Distributors and Manufacturers Can Manage Conflict Successfully

Mike Marks, Tim Horan, Mike Emerson

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It takes a long time to develop good distributor-supplier relationships; unfortunately, it only takes a short time to destroy them. Best seller  Working at Cross-Purposes, written by Mike Marks, Tim Horan, and Mike Emerson, takes a look at what really drives these relationships, how often they go bad, and why. Especially during a this challenging economy, this book can help you avoid the economic and other consequences of a core relationship turning sour by showing you how to correct emerging problems before they become critical.

Save 15% when you order together with these other best sellers from the authors at Indian River Consulting Group: Effective Sales Incentive Design for Distributors: What’s the Right Plan?, Value Creation Strategies for Wholesaler-Distributors, and What's Your Plan? Smart Salesforce Compensation in Wholesale Distribution,and 5 Fundamentals for the Wholesale Distribution Sales Manager.

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What Readers Have to Say

"As a manufacturer, we are constantly working to improve our position and relationship with our distributor network. Working at Cross-Purposes highlights why this is an important activity and why it is so wrought in challenges. I have changed my view of win-win after reading this book. If we can develop win-neutrals going in both directions and avoid win-lose scenarios that is my new paradigm."
— Mark Hollinger, Vice President, Distribution, Mannington Mills, Inc.
"This book captures the changing and dynamic relationship between the distributor and the supplier. To say that it is important to manage that relationship is a huge understatement. Finally, there is a roadmap for managing the relationship that honestly looks at the differing roles of distributors and suppliers."
— Robert Dill, President, Hisco, Inc.
"The role of distribution is a vigorous one. As a result, the relationships between distributors and suppliers are constantly changing. Working at Cross-Purposes takes a real-world view of the changing nature of these relationships and provides an excellent guide for proactively managing them."
— Robert Glorvick, President, Republic Beverage, Nebraska
"Working at Cross-Purposes provides the reader with keen insights into the distributor-supplier relationship. The authors challenge sacred cows and cherished beliefs and provide a new and improved template for distributors and suppliers to negotiate satisfactory working relationships."
— Michael Finn, President, Central Power Systems

Extended Description

In Working at Cross-Purposes, the authors help distributors and suppliers improve their relationships with each other. The authors learned through their research findings—drawn from responses from distributors to a comprehensive written NAW Institute for Distribution Excellence survey as well as candid interviews with distributors—that thinking a relationship was “win-win” could be dangerous. The more time both partners spend managing the relationship, the more beneficial the economics. Spend less time, get fewer rewards. It’s as simple as that!

This book is written with both distributors and suppliers in mind and both partners can benefit. Anyone, at any level, within an organization who is interested in preserving relationships with partners will benefit from exploring the ideas presented. Sales managers, product marketing managers, or local supplier reps can have a significant impact on the relationship, because it is here that the players do not always understand the big-picture impact of their decisions.

Clearly, both partners have common ground. While there are no silver bullets or magic solutions for commercially effective relationships between distributors and suppliers, the authors pinpoint the three criteria that are critical to successful relationships between these partners:

  • The mutual trust of the partners
  • The need for honest and candid communications
  • The mutual need for continued growth.

Let Working at Cross-Purposes help you understand what is behind the constant friction that exists when both partners work at legitimate cross-purposes because their paths to profit and growth are very different. You’ll learn about avoiding the missed opportunities that exist in every distributor-supplier channel and you’ll find real diagnostic tools to apply and corrective actions to take to preserve these vital relationships for your business.

About the Authors

Mike Marks

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Mike co-founded Indian River Consulting Group in April 1987 after a 20-year career in distribution management. He has written extensively, is frequently quoted on many industry issues, and is a research Fellow of the NAW Institute for Distribution Excellence. He is recognized for his expertise in channel strategies, supply chain management, and the practical application of technology.

Tim Horan

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Tim joined IRCG as a Partner in 2005 after leaving a distribution career spanning more than 25 years. Horan spent the last 15 years as President and CEO of a beverage alcohol distribution company. He works with CEOs and other members of senior management in the areas of organization development and design. His recent role at IRCG was to serve as a primary researcher and coauthor for this book.

Mike Emerson

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Mike began his career at Indian River Consulting Group (IRCG) in 1997 and has worked with hundreds of distributors and manufacturers of all sizes and within many lines of trade. He has managed a broad array of IRCG projects. His main focus areas include: compensation design, strategy facilitation, market research, and data modeling and analysis. Mike writes extensively on distributor and marketing channel topics and is frequently quoted on contemporary issues.

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NAW Institute for Distribution Excellence conducts research into strategic management issues affecting the wholesale distribution industry. Our research is conducted with best practice wholesaler-distributors, and we publish leading-edge research studies with practical application for wholesale distribution firms of all sizes and across all lines of trade.

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