By Marcy Selva, Simpactful Senior Partner
In a fast-changing business environment, CPG companies that create and add value to their business, and their customer’s business, are the ones who will win. But this isn’t easy especially as buyers are being asked to drive more top and bottom line growth, manage multiple retail priorities, and now have to navigate the C-Suite getting involved in the buying process. In fact, since January 2022, the C-Suite has increased involvement in key decisions at an unprecedented rate according to Corporate Visions – 108% higher than they were one year ago.
What does this mean? Effective selling requires more than the ability to pitch – your sales organization needs the ability to understand the key levers to create executive value.
I spent my career in Sales, Sales Strategy, and Sales Planning. Years ago, a mentor shared the following advice: “You want to be able to tell a decision-maker something that they didn’t already know about an opportunity, risk, or problem they didn’t know they had.” The advice has proven to be valuable time and time again because this approach provokes curiosity and helps you be seen as a thought leader in the customer’s C-Suite.
Here are a few tips to enable you to do this:
- Category Thought Leadership – Learn how to connect your solution to the business issues and metrics executives care about to win the sale. Focus on the overall category, the shopper and their shopping experience, labor and operational costs, and potential external factors that are affecting them not only today but also in the future. Covid is a great example of an external factor that impacted so many areas that required agility and flexibility. Do your homework and make sure you know their financial needs and create retailer value propositions. Key components of retailer value propositions include: Growing the category, enhancing retailer margins, and making it easy to execute and differentiate vs. retailer competition.
- Create and Add Value Holistically – Learn how to build a business case that passes muster with your executive stakeholders and helps them justify a decision. This means looking at ROI more holistically. Most sales leaders are taught to focus on creating joint value by delivering “Hard” Returns or Top-line Sales for retailers. However, Category thought leaders go a step further and develop proposals that create value by delivering both “Strategic” Returns by fueling retailer strategic Big Bets as well as “Soft” Returns, or wins that may be hard to quantify but tend to provide c-suite executives with critical new insights, opportunities for growth, that they may have missed, risk avoidance, operational wins, resource efficiency or incremental resources that are aligned with to pursue establish goals or priorities.
- Born Executed – Learn how to engage executives in a way that gets you more time versus being delegated down. Create a compelling vision with ideas that demonstrate a deep understanding of their shopper and store operations, internal and external factors that are creating hidden risk or new opportunities with potential for competitive advantage, and a clear Size of Prize that aligns with their financial and strategic priorities. Help them understand the capabilities required (including those that can be outsourced). Most importantly, bring your vision to life in a way that your audience can instantly envision the execution within the context of their shopping environments and in-store operations.
Here are a few examples of C-Suite-endorsed joint initiatives:
- New Store Layouts: Optimized Baby Care, Soup, and Oral Care aisles, the shifting of pharmacies closer to the front of the store in the Mass channel for convenience, and stores within a store concept like Ulta and Sephora.
- Store Execution: Attacking increasing out-of-stock trends and shrink to improve shopper satisfaction and reduce real monetary losses.
- Supply Chain: Partnerships like the piloting of Amazon’s “Vendor Flex” within manufacturer DC’s and support for omnichannel.
- Partnerships: Petco’s partnership with Just Food for Dogs, sustainability partnerships including waste elimination programs with Walmart and Ship-in-Own-Container pilots with Amazon, and sponsorship of significant Retailer community health initiatives including CVS smoking cessation programs or Walmart vaccine clinics, and test and learn opportunities.
- Expansion into New or Emerging Categories: OTC access to key medical supplies, expanded Male Body Grooming and Impulse Beauty departments at target, the introduction of a Household Care aisle at Home Depot and Lowe’s, and Plant-Based meal solutions at most Mass and Grocery retailers.
Best-in-Class companies are always best positioned to gain share in a recessionary period, so prepare your teams with effective and strategic sales plans, arm them with the tools they need to operate in today’s environment and elevate their conversations up to the C-Suite. Simpactful can help! To learn more about our capabilities and how we can help you, contact our team today at firstname.lastname@example.org or 925-234-6394. Visit www.simpactful.com