Fiona Bonham (left) is national account manager at Bakehouse, supplier of Continental bake-off products. She works with new product development manager Laura Honey.

Fiona on Laura

There is an excellent relationship between new product development and the sales team. We have to work together to get the right products to existing and prospective customers.

When I am presenting new products to my retail and wholesale customers, Laura sometimes joins my meetings so she can get first-hand feedback. On other occasions, I am on my own so it important for me to take good notes about a product to be able to report back.

Problems do arise because the sales team want everything 'now', but NPD has to stick to the development timetable. I started out in new product development so I understand the processes involved, but it can still be frustrating as my main aim is to get new products out to the customer.

Laura also secretly keeps things from me. She works on strategic projects with launch windows two or three times a year. I want to know what she is up to, but she won't tell me before she has perfected the product and it's time to present to our customers.

Laura on Fiona

We have to keep new products away from the sales team because it takes time to make sure quality is at its highest standard. Part of the reason for this is to keep the passion alive. I want to present a product to Fiona that she can get excited about, so that hopefully the passion for the product will flow through to the customer.

If the sales team know what we're doing from the start, they might lose interest by the time they get out on the road. It is important that we work closely together. Her feedback from the customer is vital so I can make continual improvements to the current range.

We also go out on the road together to find out what competitors are doing and pick up ideas for our customers. We will be going to Denmark soon to visit the Royal Danish Pastry House to get more ideas.

We've known each other for 10 years now because we studied nutrition and food science at university together. We also have mutual friends and it's nice to have a relationship outside work too.