Leadership #IWD2018 by Lorraine Butler
International Women’s Day creates time in our busy lives, for awareness and reflection on women’s efforts and achievements. It reminds us to stop and reflect on the progress women have made, our contribution and our successes. In turn, it reminds us to continue our future strides to create future success both individually and collectively.
Personally, I have very seldom been comprised in my career because of my gender. That is not to say that I have not seen others (of both genders) who have been less fortunate. I have always taken the approach of the ‘best person for a role’. However as I have matured through business and life, I see that personal circumstances have to be considered and accommodated in order to help the best person be the best they can be. My management team live by this philosophy and I ask that we seek out leaders in all layers of our business who will embrace this philosophy. This philosophy doesn’t happen by accident, it takes time to nurture, develop and appreciate.
The principles of leadership can be taught yes, but it takes a person with leadership inherent in their personality and DNA to truly and naturally lead and embrace leadership principles. I believe leadership can be improved upon and learned over time, even for those who don’t have a natural leadership tendencies. But in order to become an effective leader, one has to truly want to lead, for the right reasons and needs to believe in the cause – only then will you win trust of your people, which is an absolute requirement of effective leadership. And of course you have good and bad leadership; The concept of Shadow Of the Leader is something I have always embraced – being mindful of the shadow that your leaderships casts, considering others are likely to follow in the same steps.
People skills are critical to any leadership role in our organisation. Our greatest asset is our people and leaders at all levels need to continuously inspire and motivate our employees. Good empathy and intuition are important skills – and knowing when to dial up or down each. In order to lead teams, you have to build a good team around you, realising that often others on your team are better at certain things than you yourself are. A good leader will show the potential to embrace diversity within a team and take ownership of developing their people – where people grow, business grows.
My advice to women today at all stages of their careers – Anything is possible ! Whatever you want to achieve, it is achievable, but you are responsible for your own journey and destination. Surround yourself with good people. People you instinctively trust and can learn from. Regardless of whether you realise it or not – every day you are being interviewed! Do what is expected of you in your current role with excellence, but adopt practices and behaviours of the role you want next! Work to identify and secure a mentor who you respect and will learn from – but ensure to take heed of their advice –they haven’t achieved the success they have without learning a thing or two along the way – so listen, observe and action on their guidance, it will speed up your journey to success
Welcome to our first edition of Expert Speak for 2018, ‘Storytelling’ which comes from Mike Hughes, Chief Executive Officer, CPM International Group.
Last year we lost a client – something I am not used to, something I take personally and something that bothers me. Since then I have spent time reflecting on what went wrong and how we need to be better next time.
Part of this process led me to reflect on the current trend for ‘storytelling’. Storytelling, we are told, is the best way to create chemistry with people, to get you more airtime with customers, colleagues and leaders; apparently, that’s because a great anecdote hooks people, takes them on an emotional journey and conveys a memorable message……stories that resonate with people inspire them to take action.
I completely buy all this and successful pitch meetings need to do all of those things but I think there is one word that is missing which is particularly important in challenging economic times…and that word is ‘true’….because stories need to be true stories backed by evidence, fact and testimonials. Donald Trump has introduced the world to fake news and the blurring of fact and fiction and in a world where performance pressure has never been greater, where the sales director’s door revolves ever faster and where experience is at a premium, it is easy to believe the hubris of a new supplier pitch.
Ideas are easy but execution is difficult and the stakes are high when execution falls below the required standard. I hear increasing numbers of stories where clients are on the receiving end of over promising and under delivering suppliers, for example, thinking they are getting a state of the art reporting system from day one only to find it doesn’t work or where they are told they should not worry because their sales team will transfer to the new supplier only to find out that they have lost 50% within the early months because promises are not matched by delivery. This matters because poor performance stains the image of our industry as well the individual company delivering it and the short term pressures our clients are under means they can’t afford to lose a single sale.
Clients need partners who are going to do what they say they will and this year if you ask CPM to pitch for your work, you can rest assured our stories will be true stories.
CPM Australia, a leading direct sales and contact centre agency and member of CPM International Group; partnered with ACRS to undertake a consumer research study analyzing the current state of customer service in Australia. The findings revealed that Australian consumers tolerance for poor customer service is lower than ever. A summary of the findings and downloadable infographic are available below.
Australians’ tolerance for poor customer service is lower than ever
Today’s consumers are faced with more choices than ever when considering how they want to reach a brand. They’re more digitally connected, socially networked and better informed than ever before.
Consumers are saying it’s still so hard to navigate and resolve customer service issues. These growing number of touch-points has had the negative effect of widening the gap between brands and consumers.
To better understand these concerns and how customers feel about the state of customer service in Australia, CPM Australia partnered with The ACRS Omnibus Tracker to explore these challenges. The “State of Customer Service in Australia Report” reveals critical gaps between customer service expectations of excellence, ease and accessibility and the disappointing realities associated with a lack of consistencies and response.
The power of word of mouth
The research points out that the power of word of mouth still holds its top ranking as the most popular channel. It reveals that the majority of disappointed consumers share their customer service experiences with one to five people. For those who have had a negative experience, 79% will air their grievances with friends compared to 72% who will share their positive interactions.
“It’s been a long standing belief that recommendations from friends and family is the most influential channel over all other forms of marketing. Yet, if consumers value word of mouth and marketers believe it’s effective, then why aren’t brand owners more focused on it?” said Martin Robbins, General Manager – Contact Centre, CPM Australia.
“I believe that the problem is that for the last few years, brands and retailers have been more focused on “collecting” instead of “connecting” directly with customers,” continued Martin. In other words, brands can get too caught up in collecting social media fans while forgetting to actually connect with them. Having 100 really passionate fans that love your brand or product is exponentially more effective than having 10,000 “fans” who’ve signed-up just for the off-chance of winning a new gadget.
The survey also reveals some costly realisations. Over one third (34%) of customers surveyed have stopped shopping at a company in the past year due to a poor customer service experience.
In today’s competitive markets, brands can’t afford to lose sales due to poor customer service. This research validates that customer service stories are spread widely — especially bad ones – and in our experience, you’re typically judged by your resolution and not the initial issue. The quality and immediacy of contact, response and resolution of complaints or queries cannot be underestimated in a world where consumers are less brand loyal and where social media and word of mouth can make or break brands.
Factors driving excellence
In an age where technology dominates our lives, the research shows that dealing with human being trumps social and mobile channels. Across all the age groups, 61% percent attributed an important factor to good customer service experience was getting their query resolved on the first attempt and speaking with someone in Australia (60%).
The study also suggests that social media and mobile channels will not solve customer service queries. For both simple and complex enquiries, customers’ top preferred communication channels for customer service based enquiries includes: speaking with a real person on the phone, followed by face-to-face (in store), and finally through email. Not only does the study reconfirm the notion that customers are seeking a human connection, but they are also seeking local Australian knowledge.
October, 19th 2017 – Barcelona
CPM Barcelona named Best in Class in Social Media at UK CX Awards
We are thrilled to announce that CPM’s International Contact Centre in Barcelona took home GOLD at the UK CX Awards – for International Business – Best in Class – Innovation in Social Media, as a result of the amazing work undertaken by our CPM Social Media Team!
The CX Awards are a prestigious award body who undertake and annual awards process recognising innovation in customer experience throughout Europe.
Following a gruelling finalist presentation competing against 5 other shortlisted agencies; CPM were announced as category winners at an awards dinner soiree and ceremony held at Wembley in London last month.
This award recognizes CPM Barcelona for its forward-thinking and innovative approach to social media and social customer service. As customer experience specialists, CPM Barcelona delivers omnichannel customer service solutions for our blue-chip client portfolio, spanning 22+ languages and 65 markets.
“Winning the Innovation in Social Media Award is a testament to CPM Barcelona’s dedication and commitment to constantly innovate when it comes to customer experience, “says Fiona Whelan, Managing Director, CPM Barcelona.
“We place a heavy focus on innovation and future visioning to optimise digital channels and ensure continued service excellence as channels proliferate; securing customer brand loyalty and generating long-term relationships between our clients’ customers and their brands.”
CPM Barcelona is also in the running for 4 other contact centre awards at this year’s European Contact Centre and Customer Service Awards and CCA Global Excellence Awards. Winner announcements will take place in November at the gala dinner award ceremonies.
About CPM International Contact Centre – Barcelona
CPM Barcelona, as part of CPM Group and a member of the Omnicom Group, is an international contact centre delivering outsourced customer experience and sales solutions on an EMEA-wide basis. CPM specialises in the delivery of omnichannel customer engagement solutions for global clients spanning High Tech, Consumer Electronics, FMCG, Retail and Travel industries and currently covers 22+ languages across 65 markets.
For further information, contact:
Rachel Doyle | M: +34 638 140 620 | E: Rachel.email@example.com |W: https://www.cpm-int.com/icc/
Last Friday CPM Ireland won “Best Field Sales Team/Field Sales Support”, in conjunction with Britvic at the Checkout National FMCG Awards 2017!
This is the 2nd year in a row that CPM has taken away such a great accolade.
In 2016 we were fortunate to win with our CPM/GSK team and now for 2017 we take away the same award for our CPM/Britvic team. This truely solidifies the fact that we are leaders in the Irish Retail industry providing award winning outsourced sales teams to support multinational FMCG organisations!
We are very proud our CPM/Britvic team, who deliver such a high calibre of output on an ongoing basis.
Every year CPM works closely with Britvic to plan in-store execution for the annual Britvic campaign calendar. This is a core strategic plan which ensures that all sales and merchandising activities are executed to at minimum industry best standards.
This year has been no different with CPM/Britvic excelling in their results. We are immensely proud of our Sales team and Field Sales Support and the results they have achieved over the past 12 months and the influence they have had through the key in store relationships they have built.
As part of the strategy for this year in conjunction with Britvic our goal was to become the partner of choice within the Soft Drinks Category based on strong store relationships, influencing decisions through intelligent insights, and excellence in execution in all stores we service.
This as a team we have achieved through greater understanding of the market, further investment in learning and development to enhance the acumen of our sales team as well as hard work, ambition and creativity in store that ensures maximum customer engagement with our brands and by default sales growth on behalf of our retail partners.
We believe this clear strategic focus and the commitment and determination in achieving this is why our CPM/Britvic Team have been awarded the fantastic award of “Best Field Sales Team/Field Sales Support” at the Checkout National FMCG Awards 2017.
If you require Award Winning Sales Teams to support your brands in store contact us today.
And for more information on other winners at the prestigious Checkout National FMCG Awards 2017 Click Here
Each year Omnicom invites 60 of its brightest talents from across its 1,500 agency network to come and participate in a Senior Management Program (SMP) at Babson College in Boston, MA. Lectures and think-tank style discussional exercises are conducted by legendary Harvard Business School Professors such as Len Schlesinger, Thomas DeLong, Nancy Koehne and Luis Huete. This year, Sophie Chelmick from CPM Barcelona was one of the selected participants to attend this premier educational initiative.
“It was transformational” explains Sophie, a Business Unit Director within CPM Barcelona after successfully finishing the SMP graduate program this July. “Our lecturers; incredible, experienced professors both professionally and academically discussed real-world case studies, strategies and solutions enabling us to explore new methods and approaches to traditional leadership concepts” explains Sophie. “it was also an opportunity to network with execs from a wide spectrum of Omnicom agencies to share ideas for taking back into CPM – as well as some potential future collaborations with those agencies”.
“This was very special” Sophie goes on, “a new kind of understanding emerged amongst all of us; particularly regarding some of the shared challenges the agencies face and how together we may overcome some of them; how, even as Omnicom businesses we all have an urgent and pressing need to focus on new solutions and innovations if we are to survive the future and harness the digital revolution”.
A key part of the program is to lead an initiative inspired by the course teachings; Sophie explains; “I was particularly struck by AMV BBDO’s creation of “Flare” in direct response to the threat of creative crowd-sourcing agencies and I want to bring the concept of “self-disruptive innovation for survival” into CPM. My initiative will be around the future of work in the contact centre both from a tech and people perspective to meet future needs of customers and employees.”
“My insights were deeply personal and emotional as well as professional, I learned how critical it is to spend time with my family and that by doing so I can be more effective as a leader. I now want to to ensure I pass on these learnings to our amazing teams here at CPM so that all my CPM colleagues as well as our clients can concretely benefit from the Omnicom SMP program!”
Omnicom is an inter-connected global network of leading marketing communications companies. The Omnicom portfolio provides the best talent, creativity, technology and innovation to some of the world´s most iconic and successful brands. With 75,000 people working globally and serving 5,000 brands in a 24 / 7 / 365 world – Omnicom is made up of 1,500 agencies worldwide and CPM is one of those agencies.
How can Agencies Demonstrate Value in a Competitive Marketplace ?
Providing a service to clients that manifestly increases sales will always be the cornerstone of a strong value proposition. Pricing this significant service at a rate that represents fair value for this impact on a client’s business is an increasingly difficult task in today’s competitive marketplace. But I strongly believe it is more important than ever to focus on the value of the offering and clearly articulate what difference this can make to the client’s business. Admittedly, and realistically, price is not irrelevant. Mickey Drexler, ex-CEO of J. Crew, says “The real price of goods is always the selling price. The best price is to sell it for what it’s worth.”
So, how does an agency demonstrate worth, maintain a keen pricing structure, and avoid a negotiation where the only outcome is a spiraling descent to the bargain basement of both price and value, a process I describe as ‘the race to the bottom’?
Before even venturing to introduce a pricing model, an agency must start each relationship by making strenuous efforts to understand the client needs and then clearly demonstrate the value of their agency’s creativity and wisdom.
Understand what problem the client needs to have solved? Be clear about what insight the agency can bring to the table? Ask searching questions and encourage the client to really define what success means to them. All of this helps to establish a level of trust and to forge common alignment.
It also embraces transparency and a deeper understanding on both sides. Interestingly for the potential client, a closer evaluation of their needs helps the client to evaluate potential providers on their approach and capability rather than solely on price.
What about the spectre of procurement? For many sales or new business teams, the mere mention of procurement evokes a rolling of the eyes or worse!
In my multifaceted role as a Global Chief Operating Officer, Asia President, and Senior Accounting Officer for the CPM Group of companies, I’ve endured many negotiations with zealous procurement teams, watching each element of our service being systematically broken down and assigned a price instead of a value. It’s a very straightforward, almost mechanical, process to place a price on inputs with no bearing on the benefits.
However, the procurement team/individual that can relate those inputs to the value created in the outputs, embraces the real added value the organisation seeks. The procurement professional can help demystify the challenges of internal budget structures versus real output based pricing, and work collectively with marketing and their agency to build a cost model that rewards good work and demonstrates value.
This can be the huge benefit of procurement done well. Yes, they often force agencies to examine their costs and present them in a more transparent manner, but this can only benefit any business longer term. Understanding the price of service delivery is essential for agencies to then realise profit whilst ensuring clients get value.
PepsiCo has recently eliminated procurement from marketing negotiations, but 53% of companies still involve procurement and the onus is on sales teams to embrace this and positively influence the decision-making process, defending their value proposition by clearly demonstrating its impact whilst working in an open and transparent manner, building trust with its procurement client as well as the marketing teams.
If business is negotiated on the correct footing, with the service framed as an investment not an expense, then both the client and the agency can harness the power of synergy and create a mutually successful outcome, based, not simply on cost, but on value linked to insight and a robust ROI.
Winning business that has a miserably low margin while voraciously consuming precious resources, leads to an inevitable and sometimes bitter parting of the ways, which can have a big impact on the agency’s business overall. It takes courage to hold your nerve around the negotiating table and look for new ways to add value, but it is imperative that your service is not viewed as a mere commodity. I’m afraid to say that all too often agencies have nobody but themselves to blame as they agree to commercial arrangements that are best described as suicidal. Who can blame client procurement, they are merely doing what we all try to do, which is secure the best product at the lowest price. I’d like to purchase a luxury car for the same price as a mid- range sedan, wouldn’t you? The fundamental issue here is procurement will keep asking for more concessions until the agency says no! The agency must find ways to say yes outside of simply cutting price and leverage the value-added aspects of the work the agency can and does do for the client.
The world is our marketplace and communication is getting faster. Whole industries, including retail, have undergone tremendous disruption. To be competitive, agencies must be agile, able to simplify process and embrace diversity. Rigidity is a thing of the past. Linear thinking and acting is hopelessly outdated. We must all work on a broader commercial approach. Business is global and it has never been easier to communicate and harness global learnings.
I recently attended a regional conference in Asia where teams from six countries pitted their collective problem-solving and creative skills to put forward several workable project plans designed to roll out across the region for a major client. The client was in the room and was electrified by the sheer energy and practical application achieved in a breathtakingly short amount of time. This was a clear demonstration of how enhanced service can be collectively achieved by harnessing the synergy of truly diverse teams.
Agencies must foster and encourage mental agility and flexibility amongst their people as they are the drivers of value. Business can’t be exclusively conducted from the isolation of a desk. Client service teams should actively network and absorb thoughts and insights from a diversity of sources. We all must keep up with current trends in the market and strive to be thought leaders, the respected “go-to” person in our field. This is especially important if we are going to master and exploit change and not be left an irrelevant colossus, too big and bloated to adapt in the face of fundamental upheaval.
In an increasingly digital world, the distance between clients and the field has never been closer. Agencies must manage their reputations, earn respect and nurture authenticity in all areas of our business. Actions and character must be in-sync and agencies must align what they do with what they
say. Relationship building has always been central to a successful campaign and now it is critical to get closer to clients. This means actively involving field teams.
Communication, like a fountain, must flow upwards as well as downwards. Agencies must inspire everyone to take responsibility and be heard, not mumble in the corner if things are not right. In a world where word of mouth is king, agencies should empower all employees to be advocates, the field teams are brand evangelists and a powerful manifestation of value.
Agencies destined to survive and thrive will be rooted in strong foundations and adaptable in the face of change. Always listening and globally aware, not complacently locked in silos. Not intransigent in the face of a problem and not taking the easy route of pointing fingers and blaming others. Instead, they must strive to think creatively about how to clear roadblocks as a team, with each member taking responsibility. It’s too easy to say no constantly; find ways to say yes that make commercial sense, add value and bring creativity to the solution required.
The pressure of today’s marketplace will always make it attractive for clients to go for a cheaper option. But business is rarely won on price alone. Competitors can undercut, but it is up to each agency to demonstrate they can offer an intelligent, consistent depth of service, delivered by a committed, energetic and engaged field team. Cutting corners and spiraling ever downwards leads to a race to the bottom and is ultimately unsustainable. Instead, focus should be concentrated on insight and people as they adapt, thrive and make evangelists of clients. There will be no better way to demonstrate value and as a positive by product, earn a decent margin.
Paul Woolley, August 2017
The beauty industry is the sector who owns the greatest variety of shoppers given the different distribution channels available: perfumeries, pharmacies, parapharmacies (specific to some countries), institutes, department stores, supermarkets or Internet. The profiles of the beauty consumers change based on their favorite shopping place. On the Internet we have the Millennials, in the pharmacies the ones who are looking for quality and natural products, in the supermarkets those who rush and in the perfumeries the luxurious shoppers.
My brand, my store
The difficult task for a brand is to achieve to shine no matter what or where and to target more possible shoppers. But what exactly does a beauty brand have to do to reach different categories of consumers simultaneously? Open their own brand store of course! In a dedicated store it is easier to reach various consumers’ profiles. In France, CPM created BRANDSHOPS, a turnkey solution designed to offer its clients the possibility to have their own store, whatever the format: pop-up store, corner, shop in shop, truck or just a first traditional permanent store. For instance, when L’Oréal Paris, Nyx or Gemey Maybelline chose to open their first stores in France, they called out to CPM France for the recruitment, training and management of the sales team. There are several advantages in opening a store among which strengthening the proximity to its customers in order to better know them, increasing the multichannel reach or offering a new brand experience.
Beauty & Mortar
With the global increasing trend of online shopping, the brands must align with their consumers’ requests and rethink their strategies. We tend to say that the future of retail consists in online shopping, but even if this channel is growing day by day, the beauty industry is the less impacted sector. Even if there is a new generation of beauty shoppers who are more inclined to buy online, ie the Millennials, most shoppers continue to go to the stores because here they can find samples and beauty advisors, and even make-up sessions for free. Consumers still need to feel, touch and test the cosmetics, the physical store thus has a real competitive edge and this experience cannot be yet replicated online.
In France, more than 50% of the beauty shoppers are stubborn when it comes to online shopping. However, 43% of beauty shoppers are using their smartphones to keep informed and to compare prices, even when they are in the store. The power of online shopping thus remains a threat and retailers have to continuously drive loyal and new customers to their stores. The actions they can leverage include a well-executed merchandising and beauty advisors with state-of-the-art knowledge on new trends, products and innovations. As previously mentioned, the Millennials, a generation which represents a large portion of beauty consumers, are the first ones turning to the internet before purchasing products. This generation chooses to trust the makeup recommendations of a makeup artist or beauty influencer on Instagram or YouTube over a salesperson in the store. And here lies the challenge for in-store salespeople: re-establish this advocacy. In order to compete with online beauty experts, brands must allow their sales teams to concentrate on their core tasks: sell. For merchandising services, training and sales team activation, we can come in.
The beauty buyers are more and more omnichannel, and a total uber-isation of this industry is still far away. The challenge for retailers remains their capacity to sharpen their systems and processes to ensure that the customer experience is a seamless one, whatever the distribution channel.
London, United Kingdom, 26th June 2017
CPM first set up office in the UK in 1936 as an over-the-counter marketing agency and has continued to evolve and grow to become today’s global leader in integrated field sales, contact centre and digital sales services; representing over 200 blue chip global brands across a multitude of sectors.
Following its momentous 80 year anniversary in 2016, and with a strategic focus on expanding its new and existing client portfolio, CPM is delighted to announce the launch of a new logo, brand identity and website.
The new image signifies CPM’s continued growth and culture for innovation, whilst retaining the heritage and trust it has developed with its clients over the past 80 years through its brand promise: Using the power of insight to create influence and drive sales for our clients.
The new brand identity and logo is an evolution of the former visual elements with a modernized typeface, injection of colour and a revamped, powerful image library.
“The colours of the new logo (blue, green, and red) have been linked to each element of our brand promise of Insight, Influence, and Sales. We hope this will convey an image of confidence whilst offering energy and excitement. As sales specialists this aligns perfectly with our company culture.”
Tom Preece, Group Chief Executive Officer.
To coincide with its fresh new image, CPM have also launched a new website to showcase its new brand identity using a responsive and easy-to-navigate menu design so that users can find their way around the site on any operating platform.
CPM will be rolling out the new identity to all assets as of 26th June 2017.
Speaking about the new brand entity, Group Chief Development Officer of CPM, Joost van de Ven remarked:
“On the back of a significant year in 2016 celebrating 80 years in business, and to reflect our expanding client and service portfolio, this new brand identity and website reflects our client centric focus and commitment to technology and innovation, not only in the field but also in our contact centres and online. This is one of the core reasons our clients and employees alike choose to work with us! While we have developed ourselves as a global leader in outsourced sales over the past 80 years, we are always thinking outside the box and looking for fresh, high tech solutions which not only deliver a true competitive advantage but also drive incremental sales for our clients.”
CPM is the leading partner for outsourced sales solutions, with impressive global clients spanning FMCG, Retail, Technology, Automotive, and Financial sectors, to name a few.
To discover CPM’s new brand image, please see visit www.cpm-int.com.
CPM is a UK registered company, employing over 34,000 people across the globe. It is also a part of the Omnicom Group.
For queries, please contact CPM Group @ firstname.lastname@example.org
Web: www.cpm-int.com | Tel: +44 20 3481 1020
CPM International Group, 85 Strand, London, WC2R 0DW, UK
CPM is an award-winning international outsourced sales agency specialising in field sales, contact centre and digital sales solutions working alongside our extensive portfolio of clients to deliver long-term strategic programmes and shorter term tactical campaigns. CPM forms part of CPM Group, one of the world’s largest outsourced field marketing and sales companies. CPM is a part of the DAS Group of Companies.
About Diversified Agency Services
Diversified Agency Services (DAS), a division of Omnicom Group Inc. (NYSE:OMC) (www.omnicomgroup.com), manages Omnicom’s holdings in a variety of marketing communications disciplines. DAS includes over 200 companies, which operate through a combination of networks and regional organizations, serving international and local clients through more than 700 offices in 71 countries.
About Omnicom Group Inc.
Omnicom Group Inc. (www.omnicomgroup.com) is a leading global marketing and corporate communications company. Omnicom’s branded networks and numerous specialty firms provide advertising, strategic media planning and buying, digital and interactive marketing, direct and promotional marketing, public relations and other specialty communications services to over 5,000 clients in more than 100 countries.
Veronique Motte, CPM France CEO discusses Sales Outsourcing in our latest CPM Expert Speak. The obvious choice for some but less well-known to others, sales outsourcing lets brands be more agile and keep ahead of the pack.
To adapt to situations, seasonality and new trends…
The modern consumer is multichannel. Their new needs and new ways of consuming are prompting brands to adapt, revise or even recast their marketing and sales strategies. This is having an impact on the efforts required of their salespeople in the distribution networks. Or rather it should. When a manufacturer’s sales force is given the task of concentrating on the French hypermarket network, it remains focused on the relationships it has built and maintained with each store. These sales representatives, who drive for miles along the roads of France for early morning appointments with department managers, do not have the “bandwidth” to absorb what we in our lingo call a new sales front. So, for a manufacturer who fully intends for its strategy to include the new network that is so popular with consumers, the convenience stores – Carrefour City, Franprix, G20, Intermarché Express, etc. – there is an alternative: the outsourced sales force.
In France, the new “convenience” sector accounts for over 8,500 outlets and 30% of growth in consumer products in 2015, according to Nielsen. In recent years, consumers have been using them with increasing frequency and in response, retailers have increased the number of outlets and thus the number of possible points of contact with these consumers.
In 2014, when French manufacturers were asked about the new challenges facing their sales force in 2016, they cited the improvement in coverage of the new distribution territories – corner shops, drive-thru, etc. When they were asked if they were using or planning to use outsourced sales forces, 55% of them answered “yes!”(PBMO study). The figures published by our French professional association, SORAP, also speak volumes. The outsourced sales force market grew by 9% between 2014 and 2015. Outsourced merchandising grew by 18.5%. This growth phenomenon is expected to continue.
Manufacturers measure the value that outsourced sales or merchandising forces sales teams can create as backup to their employees, by targeting stores that are not visited by them, such as neighbourhood or village mini-marts, but also beachside supermarkets and mountain grocery stores on a more seasonal basis. The importance of the phenomenon transcends our borders, with the same trends being observed in the United Kingdom, Germany and Italy. Outsourcing one’s sales force, or its merchandising or activation – the three main business lines of sales and field marketing agencies – is nothing new. What is new is the discovery of the many opportunities that this offers to brands in the current consumption environment, which many might describe as “complex” or even “confusing”.
… and to try new things, innovate and stay competitive
In order to benefit from a qualified sales team whose activities adapt to the year’s various high points, the brands are ready to team up with partners specialising in sales and field marketing campaigns, and try out new and original, even radical, commercial solutions. Like the outsourced shared sales force: shared between two manufacturers, these sales representatives can better and more efficiently cover a sales front in a more economical manner for each of them. In this case, the external service provider makes the relationship between the two companies much easier: part arbitrator, part advisor, it acts as a genuine facilitator while the brands retain complete freedom in defining their strategies.
Because in 2016, the sharing trend is bigger than ever! This is plain to see in the consumer services sector. On the B to B side of things, start-ups are increasingly taking it on board, with fab labs and co-working spaces. Sharing is thus becoming a true entrepreneurial philosophy that major manufacturers are embracing on their own scale with growing enthusiasm.
Other innovative mechanisms, such as e-merchandising (optimising product visibility on e-commerce or drive-thru sites) or crowdsourcing (data collection micro-tasks assigned to paid private individuals) also complement more traditional sales strategies.
For in addition to our local trends, players from further afield – Amazon, Alibaba, Costco, etc. – these names that are used to proclaim that competition is healthy, are transforming the distribution landscape. The status quo is definitely not an option.
For further information on this topic, please Contact Us today.