Building data muscle
We started by posing two provocative questions. In a virtual world, how can companies bring back the joy of selling when sales teams traditionally thrive on physical interactions with customers? And what can salespeople offer to replace the sense of trust that comes from breaking bread with clients?
"We're missing the relationships that we built that used to involve a dinner or other soft times," observed Moran. "It's harder to read body language or to set up follow-up meetings on Zoom."
But even before the pandemic, he said, a power shift was changing the seller's role. Sellers can no longer claim an advantage based on access to data because the data increasingly lies in the hands of the retailers. As customers try to monetize that data when agreeing on terms with CPG companies, salespeople are struggling to find their unique value proposition.
The critical support they need, the group agreed, is access to rich insights derived from the firm's own data, with real-time predictive intelligence that they can share with clients in a simple way. Companies must also teach sales teams how to use these new insights to tell engaging stories in a virtual environment.
Ideally, salespeople should also help equip customers with a true omnichannel plan. Yet given the current volatility, creating these plans or measuring their effectiveness is proving difficult. It might be time to rethink how CPG organizations allocate funds by looking at the supply chain, sales, trade promotions, and so on holistically. They can then work with retailers to reallocate marketing spend to the places it is most effective.
"A lot of my clients are consolidating decision-making authority under one P&L owner rather than split between the fiefdoms of marketing and sales," Moran said. "If in-store traffic is down – say, 10% – that doesn't diminish the ROI of in-store merchandising and promotion investments by 10%. It might change it by 100%"