For CPG brands, building a field sales team is a big investment — and an important one. Having dedicated sales reps champion your brand in high-opportunity stores and become experts in your market can give you a competitive advantage at the shelf, making the difference between a shopper choosing your brand or your competition.
Most CPG brands also use their sales teams as their eyes and ears in their accounts, gathering data about retailer compliance, inventory, and competition — insights they can’t get directly from retailers.
But running a CPG sales organization isn’t cheap. It can take hundreds of full-time employees to give you deep coverage of all your accounts nationwide. That’s why high-growth brands like Kraft Heinz are using data from the field to get more out of every sales rep and store visit and maximize the impact their team has on sales velocity.
We went behind the scenes with Kraft Heinz to bring you three tips for high-impact, data-driven CPG field sales.
1. Connect Your Sales Reps Directly to Your Organization’s Reporting Tools
No matter what sales programs you’re running in the field (POS promotions, display merchandising, etc.), having real-time data on team execution gives you the flexibility to course correct and make sure your team is trending to hit its goals before the promotion period is up.
However, most CPG sales teams are lucky to get retail execution reports every month, if not every quarter. That’s because most reporting tools are disconnected from the field and require sales reps to report data to one system (often via email or Excel), before a system admin cleans the data, builds reports, and sends those reports back to team leads.
Make Reporting Instant, Not Monthly
At Kraft Heinz, sales reps are empowered to deliver data directly to their team’s main reporting platform. That way, anyone on the team can log in, check progress, and change their execution strategy based on real-time data instead of waiting for quarterly updates.
“Previously we couldn’t see what was going on today, now, in any given store — we had to wait until after programs or promotions were done,” says Magnus Rashid, the company’s Manager of Retail Sales Systems.
“With Repsly, data from the field is being reported live by our sales reps so anyone can track programs day-over-day,” Rashid adds. “We can change our execution today to affect sales tomorrow.”
Why wait until after promotions are over to get details on how they're performing? Kraft Heinz upgraded to Repsly to get real-time reports on promotion execution as it happens! #cpgsales #retailexecution pic.twitter.com/xwub7BDe4Q— Frank Brogie (@FrankAtRepsly) June 10, 2019
2. Approach Retail Partners With Up-to-Date Data on Program Execution
Any experienced CPG sales manager will tell you: despite what your retail buyers have agreed to, they rarely execute promotions with the consistency and quality you’d like. It’s not malicious — retail managers simply have too much going on to give your brand 100% attention in every one of their stores. So the question is when (not if) promotions are out of compliance, what will you do?
According to the team at Kraft Heinz, arming yourself with data — not anecdotes — is the best thing you can do to turn things around and approach 100% execution in your stores.
Go Beyond Anecdotes
So instead of just snapping photos at your local store, have your sales reps run a quick compliance audit in the target stores in their territory. Even if you can’t get to every store, grabbing a sample of just a few dozen stores and starting the conversation with data will go a long way toward convincing your retail partners that compliance is a serious issue.
While anecdotes can lead to defensiveness, retail partners are often grateful to CPG sales teams that come to them with data, and will quickly jump to action to help correct the problem.
For Kraft Heinz, a quick audit exposed a 50% compliance gap in one of their largest accounts in Canada. Starting the conversation with data helped the retailer spring to action in key stores even faster and they were able to bring compliance up to 80% in just two weeks.
The best part? Just getting gap stores up to compliance boosted sales of their target product by about 25%!
3. Make Execution and Performance Data Available to Program Owners
Most CPG sales teams execute programs developed and owned by other teams. Whether that’s nationwide marketing campaigns with an in-store component or new POS displays and visuals, your success as a sales team depends on those programs being successful.
Strengthen Internal Partnerships With Data
Kraft Heinz’ field sales team does more than just execute marketing programs, they provide real-time data on their execution so program owners can optimize their materials and strategy over the life of a promotion, as well as for future programs.
While it’s not strictly part of the sales process, making this data readily available to program owners is an investment in a relationship that can have a huge impact on category growth and retail sales.
Kraft Heinz’ sales team uses Repsly to report and share real-time execution data directly from the field. “With the data we get from Repsly, we’re able to dive in and see exactly how many stores are participating in our programs,” says Linda Ferrandini, a brand manager at Kraft Heinz Canada. “With that data we’re able to build more effective plans and set our goals higher for next year.”
#CPGsales tip: Your field sales team is a great source of data on promotion execution and effectiveness. Share that data with program owners to help them improve displays and strategy over time. You'll benefit from the higher foot traffic! #retailexecution pic.twitter.com/KAVu5gNjqm— Frank Brogie (@FrankAtRepsly) June 10, 2019
More From Kraft Heinz' Industry-Leading Field Sales Team
Kraft Heinz’ commitment to embedding data throughout the field sales process has given their sales team a competitive advantage when planning, executing, and auditing promotions — from maximizing each team members’ effectiveness in the store to positioning their team as consultative experts for both internal and external partners.
To learn more about how Repsly is powering Kraft Heinz’ data-driven retail execution strategy, check out the video below!
Frank Brogie is the Content Marketing Manager at Repsly. A hungry researcher with experience blogging about both technology and brand building, he’s excited to help his readers grow their brands. When his hands aren’t on the keyboard, they’re probably playing disc golf or shooting hoops.