Delivering your growth agenda: the Sales role

Quantic’s core principle is that connected organisations out-perform their competition. By connected, we mean those businesses whose functional strategies are aligned behind one consistently understood growth agenda.

Our previous posts have looked at the necessity to align these strategies behind a common growth agenda. Initiated by the Marketing function and expressed as Category Growth Drivers, connected companies then ensure that all subsequent activation is connected across Marketing, Customer Marketing and Sales functional strategies.

In this post we explore how a sales team plays a crucial role in engaging customers against a growth strategy.

Engaging customers in business conversations, not product conversations

Historically in FMCG, ‘big companies’ have usually had the edge over their smaller rivals. Many of the well-known brands we see today have traditionally had a scale advantage anchored in:

  • Marketing investment and a high share of voice.
  • Ownership of the full value chain.
  • Multi-level customer relationships.

Today however, the environment has changed and this advantage has started to erode. Today we see disruption from smaller agile suppliers, competing successfully and winning both shelf and mind space of shoppers and ultimately consumers.

Quantic’s experience demonstrates that suppliers, large or small, win through increasing their relevance with customers. They do this by:

  • Creating a consumer, shopper-centred agenda that meets current and future needs better than their competitors.
  • Building solutions that deliver against the customer’s needs to both grow and reduce costs.
  • Having the capability to unlock conversations beyond the trading team.

The Growth Drivers provide this ‘relevance’.  They are the true north for customer conversations and when used to their full potential, give sales teams the ammunition against which to step-change the customer-supplier relationship.

‘Out-think’ and ‘outsell’ your competition

Quantic understands what it takes to win in this changing environment and has helped sales people around the world to ‘out-think’ and ‘outsell’ their competition – resulting in consistent outperformance.

Growth Drivers provide the foundation for ‘out-think’.  Sales teams lead the transformation of category-based Drivers into customer-specific tailored business plans, which reflect the customer’s own corporate agenda.  These need to inspire the customer’s shoppers through solutions that leverage their bricks and clicks operational strengths.  This approach enables a supplier to shape its investment with customers behind the initiatives that deliver the greatest mutual benefit.

‘Outsell’ is the ability to engage the customer and build powerful relationships across all functions and levels in order to get commitment to the plan.  The best suppliers have the ability to complement compelling selling propositions with the building of trust and the creation of powerful relationships.  Put simply, they make it difficult for the customer not to want to work with them.

This approach enables suppliers to have broader business conversations, unlock opportunities that may have been previously reserved for other suppliers and to secure a seat at the top table.  We are always delighted to hear when dialogue in ‘top to tops’ is centred on a set of tailored strategic opportunities fuelled by the Growth Drivers, at the centre of a category-based growth strategy.

So, Sales’ functional role in the delivery of a growth strategy is a central one – the team needs to customise solutions from their category strategy to their customers’ agendas and the individuals they are influencing.

What do customers want from a category strategy?

Customers want the right solutions for their business and will work with suppliers who bring them. Suppliers need to understand that to make just an extra £10,000 in profit, a typical UK supermarket working on typical total margins (not category margins) requires them to sell an incremental turnover of c.£500,000.  The potential of Growth Drivers is all too-often diluted when they get used as fancy gift-wrapping around existing brand plans.  To maximise the ROI of the work completed, the Sales function must ignite a new way of working that uses the Growth Drivers as the anchor for joint initiatives with the customer across the end-to-end value chain.

What skills do sales teams need?

Quantic believes there are four core capabilities that sales teams require to leverage Growth Drivers:

Solutions in all of the capability areas must be customised to your ambition and culture as well as the distinct needs of each individual role.

What do customer managers need to do?

It’s the role of sales, working alongside the rest of the business, to evolve the Growth Drivers and subsequent solutions to meet the customer’s agenda.

Customers will therefore say ‘yes’ more often when there is:

A clear category view for their business which:

  • Shows them how the whole category will grow, not just the supplier’s brands.
  • Is built from insights that are relevant to their shoppers.
  • Is described in a language they can use.

A clear and simple roadmap for growth which:

  • Has clear and quantified growth opportunities.
  • Is anchored against the Growth Drivers.
  • Engages the customer at all levels, particularly ‘top to tops’.

A set of execution solutions that are tailored to their strategy, shoppers and operational capabilities, typically:

  • Fewer, bigger, better solutions.
  • Activations which are easy to execute.
  • Which demonstrate an understanding of their operations and timelines.

Ultimately customers need support from suppliers in gaining cross-functional and senior support, especially as a more strategic agenda demands more strategic decision-making.

Thanks for reading.  We trust you have enjoyed reading our series of articles covering the topic of “Delivering your Growth Agenda”.


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