What has given me confidence is that most executives at CPG companies themselves also have a personal preference on how they buy that are similar to customers:
- They don’t like to receive telemarketing calls on their personal cell phones;
They are accustomed to ordering online (especially in Covid times) for personal purposes;
They like how e-commerce saves them lots of time to do other things;
They like the ability to see a wide range of products, reviews and, most importantly, the pricing transparency.
So, the question is: why is it that most CPG companies stick to their existing models rather than a superior experience for their customers, the small and medium sized retailers that connect their products to their consumers?
Here, at BEES, we do our best to allow our B2B customers, the retailers, to enjoy the same positive e-commerce experiences that delight us as consumers in our own day to day.
We develop applications and integrate systems to ensure that our customers won’t need a person visiting or calling to have their weekly orders collected. They can place the orders themselves!
It sounds simple, but it’s revolutionary for both our customers and for us.
For our customers, it is revolutionary because they become fully empowered to buy what they want, whenever they want, with transparent pricing & promotions, and limited risk of missing good opportunities.
For us, it is revolutionary because it not only enables but forces us to do much more for our customers. By converting our sales representatives into Business Developers, we make their jobs much more meaningful and about our customers’ success.
“The act of selling products to retailers in traditional ways is in its last days”
Instead of counting inventory or persuading customers to buy a few extra cases (which probably won’t turn and will mean less sales on the next visit), they are actually discussing ideas to help retailers sell more to consumers and in doing so, they improve our great portfolio of brand’s engagement and relevance with customers and consumers.
We are just at the beginning of a new era, but for all of us connected in the BEES Universe, it’s clear that the age of traditional sales, so well represented by morning meetings, war chants, predominantly male environments and sales representatives praised for being aggressive (rather than collaborative) and closing unnecessarily big orders in detriment of customers’ cash flow, is completely over.
“Traditional sales” is the new DVD. It had its place in time and will now become part of history.
If the description above reflects your job or you are in a business that pays lots to tech companies that sell products to “enhance your sales capabilities”, while entangling your company in a platform with ever-rising costs… beware. Your job may be at risk and your large investment may be on a technology that is soon to become obsolete.
Even when the new digital application has value creation potential, it’s not a given that it will be received with open arms by the organization. Every change brings a certain degree of pain and move people out of their comfort zones. Therefore, a big risk that’s always present is the temptation to force it down the organization. Leaders may talk about the new applications in their presentations and the team responsible may explain how their innovation is a great proposition. But none of that matters if the internal teams are not convinced and engaged. People should be pulled toward your product given its quality and track record of improved results in pilots they can visit and see by themselves, not pushed into implementing a tool they haven’t really bought into yet.
“Our BEES community wishes to inspire all of you to not fear this new era”
Also, if you work with tech, think twice before investing your time designing applications or creating algorithms to help traditional salespeople sell “more” or “better”. Sometimes I receive e-mails from start-ups promising to improve commercial performance by embedding AI and machine learning into applications to be used by our sales representatives. I smile at them. They are trying to sell me a Blu-Ray, when we are already streaming”.
Our BEES community wishes to inspire all of you to not fear this new era, but rather to see it as a new opportunity for development and accelerated growth for companies and retailers.
CPGs… Welcome to the (true) age of the Customer!
And remember, if you are still selling to your customers, instead of supporting, educating, engaging, rewarding, while they place their own orders… you are not there yet.