“The customer is always right.” This age old mantra of salesmen highlights the ultimate importance of customer satisfaction to a successful venture. For manufacturers of Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG), they must meet the expectations of both their end customers and retailers. These B2B transactions have an interesting dynamic. CPG field reps rely on relationships with retailers to optimize their product positioning on the floor. Both parties ultimately want the same thing - for the products to sell. To this end, it is important to cultivate positive working relationships with your retailers. Their happiness with you and your product’s performance will ensure that they continue to stock your brand. Here are 5 keys to becoming your retailers favorite brand.
1. Be prepared and proactive. Present retailers with a history of your product performance in other retailers and markets – this can be especially useful for less established brands. Having this data at hand, and organized on your mobile device is a smart way to remember and display your statistics. Similarly, provide proof of customer buzz about your product, reviews, feedback surveys, social media mentions. This helps bolster the fact that there is a demand for your product in the market. According to a Nielsen Trust in Advertising Report, 84% of people trust word of mouth advertising they hear from friends and family. If people are talking about it, your retailer knows their network is more likely to buy. In that same vain, Jim Williams of Influitive details in his blog how B2B companies can take advantage of B2C customer loyalty strategies. Getting consumers excited about your product gets retailers excited about stocking it.
2. Make a habit of visiting the retailers you supply. Though seemingly obvious, this is often overlooked. If a retailer agrees to carry your product, make sure to schedule the necessary trips to ensure that displays stay presentable and appealing. Knowing your retailer's order history should be a good benchmark for how often you should check in. If your product is consistently out of stock, that is a red flag for a retailer, and they may think they are not being prioritized. However, if you remain conscientious it can render great benefits. A study done by Glynn, Motion, and Brodie saw that sales reps for smaller brands that cooperated with retailers and paid attention to their product displays and stocks were able to increase sales, and get their product into more stores. Be sure to utilize effective scheduling and communication tools to achieve better customer service.
3. Utilize competitive pricing strategies. As sales is the ultimate goal for manufacturer and the retailer, price your product to sell. Being able to point to your product as being more successful than a competitor can be leveraged for better product placement. Having a good understanding of the market you’re selling to is helpful in deciding the most effective strategy. Compare your pricing with those of other brands that offer a similar value proposition as yours. And this will change over time as the market demands fluctuate. Having the ability to conduct consistent check-ups will provide you with longitudinal data that will allow you to adjust your pricing strategically.
4. Communicate. As a sales rep, make sure that you communicate clearly and often with your retail counter part. If both parties are on the same page when it comes to spacing, product placement, price, and branding, it could save you confusion and confrontation at a later date.
5. Be efficient and organized. Organization is key to a long lasting business relationship. Don’t rely on paper records that can get damaged or lost. Use software tools that allow you to have what you need organized and available. To avoid being out of stock, file new digital orders from your mobile device while on location. The more efficient you are with check ins and audits the more pleased your client will be. However, at the same time be conscious of being too disruptive. Know your clients needs and cater to them, don’t take up too much of their time or space.
Brands and retailers are dependent on one another for success. These symbiotic relationships need to be fostered and maintained to ensure that a retailer does not opt to stock one of your competitors over you, or give them a better position in the store. By following these tips, you can give your brand the advantage by becoming your retailers favorite brand.
Amanda McGuinness is a Content Marketing Journalist at Repsly. A social media expert and avid writer, she believes in creating fresh, creative content to build brand awareness.