The catch cry of many an upstream manufacturer, with a large and expensive mobile sales team, plying a retail focussed channel to market.  A retail channel that will not provide exclusivity, leaving supplying manufacturers to slug out the share-of-wallet war at the retail coalface.

The common answer and strategy of this scenario?  Train the reps more and more to train the downstream retail sales staff more and more on their “superior” product features-advantages-benefits, and the economics of better profitability compared to the alternative products also carried. But does this lead to sales team effectiveness?

What do we see as a result?  More and more, this more and more approach becoming less and less effective.  Especially so in the environment where there is a surrounding technical knowledge transfer associated with the product in question that relates to the fundamental customer perceived need/solution (eg a health product compared to a simple customer self selection purchase like the can of coke vs the can of pepsi).

The more the technical application knowledge and customer education aspect of the product in question, the greater the chance  that the sales people tend to talk up the product feature-advantage-benefit  techo-babble.  Both, the manufacturer’s sales people in educating/selling the downstream retail sales people ….. and then , in turn, those retail sales people with their consumer customers.

What opportunity is often missed as a result?  It is useful to consider the “pointy” end of the conversation, where the retail sales assistant gives the consumer the product recommendation, as the end of a spectrum of activities that provide the superior consumer retail experience.  Think about this whole spectrum on the retail shop floor in terms of marshalling the right staff with the right skillset to be in the right place at the right time to deliver on the competitive advantage consumer experience (this being the key to sales team effectiveness).

We’ll come back next week to unpack this  concept a little further.