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CPG Sales Enablement: Evolving from Pitching Products to Advising on Value

By Tom Pisello | May 26, 2020

I was interviewing a leading CPG sales enablement leader recently about the impact of the crisis on their business.

Sure, the lockdown had crushed their restaurant and bar business, but on-line and store sales were making up for the shortfall. Indeed, sellers weren’t able to meet with customers face-to-face, but they were leveraging virtual meetings and without travel time were actually doing more meetings versus less.

Rather than a crisis, he saw this as a once in a lifetime catalyst for change. A way to gain greater support for reinventing the way the organization sold and accelerating a planned three-year sales transformation down to six months.

We had already been helping his group make great strides towards this sales transformation: to migrate sellers from pitching products, where reps traditionally sold on features and price, to becoming expert business advisors. Not an easy evolution, to “ditch the pitch”, but one that the business had to make in order to differentiate and grow.

The organization had plenty of licensed retail sell-through data and research on consumer trends and forecasts, but it took several team members hours and hours to compile the information into reports that the sellers could use and present. The process was resource intensive, costly, lengthy and because the information needed to be personalized for each account, meant that only a few of the sellers were able to leverage the valuable intelligence and insights on their sales calls.

As well, the content was static. If the customer took the conversation to a different challenge or wanted different or additional insights, the seller had to revisit at a later time, starting the mine, compile, prepare and deliver process all over again. And when does a customer ever follow a script?

To enable sellers to instantly leverage the research and data via self-service, we developed an interactive selling application to empower each rep to collaborate with individual store owners and establishments, diagnosing performance and identifying improvement opportunities, Using the interactive application, sellers can now intelligently obtain and advise customers on sell through data and look-forward changing consumer trends, completely personalized for the exact retail location, business and customer base.

Leveraging the data and comparison modeling, the application helps each seller guide the retailer or purveyor to maximize the 4Ps – prescribing the right mix of Place, Price, Product and Promotion. Using the app, different combinations of the 4Ps could be simulated to automatically project the business value impact on customer sell through and profitability.

To support continued engagement, after the meeting the sellers prepared and sent a personalized assessment report and any other supporting material, a collection in a shareable link. The system tracks the consumption and sharing of the collection, providing each seller with an instant email when the customer is engaged, with visibility into the exact documents in the collection and pages in the assessment and resources the customer referred to post meeting, and even who they shared it with (and their consumption as well).

In person, the sellers would use their iPads to access the app and drive the collaboration side by side with the customer. Now with remote selling the only option, the reps run the application from PCs instead, or shared via iPad sharing utilities, in virtual meetings to ditch the pitch and instead fuel collaboration and advisor engagements. The important fact here, because the reps were already armedfor digital selling, the required instant pivot to remote selling was seamless.

What’s next on this organization’s list? We are working with the sales enablement team to expandthe interactive application to include other product lines from recent acquisitions, and licensing to an expanding group of sellers and distribution partners.

Keeping this clients’ unique application private, I am including an example here of a similar interactive application, allowing a seller of coffee beans to help a retailer maximize the 4-Ps.

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