Guide To Success

This primer is for first-time attendees and long-time participants who are interested in maximizing their opportunities at the NACDS Annual Meeting. It has been developed by members of the Membership and Conferences Subcommittee of the NACDS Retail Advisory Board and is based on their collective experiences.

Know Before You Go

Gain greater value from your participation at Annual Meeting. Your preparation, conduct, and follow-up to these meetings will determine your company’s unique Return on Investment (ROI).

Meeting Format

During the strategic exchange appointments, it is common to see senior executives of major retail organizations meet with their counterparts from leading CPG or pharmaceutical companies. The meetings are vibrant, the exchanges are sometimes animated, and the results can be profound.

Who Attends?

Attendance at the Annual Meeting is comprised of the retail senior management team responsible for operating the business including: marketing, merchandising, supply chain, operations, and related functions in both CPG and pharmacy, and their associate member/supplier counterparts.


Specific appointments between retailers and manufacturers, with preset agendas, are recommended and are normally made well in advance of the meeting. In order to maximize the meeting’s value, plan on starting early, attending every function you can, and staying through the entire event. We encourage associate members to contact the specific companies and individuals you would like to meet with during the Annual Meeting.

Advance Tips

  • Start your planning early – now! Become familiar with the Schedule and start building your agenda.
  • Determine who you want to see, and what you want to accomplish with them. Check the Participating Companies frequently for new attendees and their contact information. Familiarize yourself with the attendee and their company and make sure you are meeting with the right person.
  • When you invite someone to meet with you, have a concise proposition and tell them up front what the potential opportunity could mean to their business.
  • If you are unknown to the attendee, call for the appointment yourself; it’s much more productive than having an assistant do it. Be prepared to answer the hard question, “How will we benefit from meeting with you?”
  • If you have a broker, or an independent sales and marketing firm relationship, ask them to help you set appointments.
  • If you are a smaller, less well-established company and don’t know the company, consider engaging with a broker. We can assist you with a list of current Sales & Marketing Companies and Manufacturer Representatives.
  • Extend dinner invitations and make reservations well in advance of the meeting. You can always reduce the number for the reservation or cancel.

Download the NACDS Events App

Navigate NACDS Meetings and Conferences like a pro with the mobile app, developed to enhance attendee experience.

With the NACDS Events app, users can:

  • Get the most up-to-date conference information and personalize your schedule.
  • Search for participating companies, bookmark favorites and navigate based on your location.
  • Access social media to keep up on all the buzz surrounding the event.

Strategic Exchange Appointment Tips

  • Start early soliciting appointments – now is not too early.
  • Develop a convincing proposition for each company as to why they will benefit from a meeting with you.
  • Establish an individually specific agenda for each meeting.
  • Make sure you have done your homework on the retailer. Check out their website, download their app, and learn as much as you can about the company.
  • Develop a “one-pager” summarizing the important points about your company, key products, point of difference, and any performance matrices that set you apart from your competition.
  • Consider room-dropping an advance thank you for a planned meeting to remind the person of the appointment or an after meeting thank you to recap what was accomplished.
  • Take notes and follow-up after the meeting – this may be your most critical success factor.
  • Ask for a mobile phone number from the companies you have appointments with, should there be schedule changes or location changes.