Author: Kelechi Kalu
Have you ever considered that middlemen and consumers buy for varying reasons? Have you considered that these differences in reasons and buying behaviors can affect how your brand fares in the marketplace? Have you considered that you or your trade team may just be a slight twist away from entrenching that brand in the trade? There is a scriptural maxim that declares, “Having done all to stand, stand forth therefore….”You may have done enough to send your product into the market but the return purchases are still dragging or may be doing well but not as well as you know it should.
Could it be that…
You are selling the wrong product
There is no argument the fact that sales are transferable skills. That, however, does not guarantee that just about any sales person can sale your product. It is safe also to assume that your sales team is you by extension. Therefore, if you have a person(s) in your sales team who are not suited to your product – in terms of skill-set, temperament and experiences then you are selling the wrong product. This will undoubtedly make it more difficult for you to sale. Some product requires more of street-smartness while other needs cultured articulation. Only two out of ten salesmen with core FMCG background will succeed selling high end Furniture. And this does not necessarily mean the rest are bad salesmen, it simply re-affirm the obvious that they are selling the wrong product.
You are selling the wrong price
One of the major mistakes Middle-level and startup businesses make is price decision. I have seen companies who have no idea how many channels of interest their pricing have to satisfy. A certain beverage firm’s product suffered non-acceptance for long simply because their pricing system does not allow the Debulkers in the open market (who happens to be key in their line of product) any meaningful profit. Their management made the mistake of assuming that the product moves from wholesalers to retail shops. A slight adjustment led to major growth in sales within a couple of months the change was initiated. It pays to investigate the different channels of interest involved with your product. An outsourced marketing agency will usually be more perceptive.
You are selling a good product
You are most probably wondering “am I supposed to sell bad product?” Well, not quite.
Consider that the middlemen dealing in your product are not majorly interested in how good you product is – if all that your sales team preach is the benefits and features. Then they are unlikely to win them over. In my training of and supervising of salesmen, I have always emphasized that Wholesalers and Retailers buy profit and not product. It is a good profit story they want to hear during your presentation and as such should never be open-ended. For instance, you should be able to demonstrate how their N10m investment will yield say N.5m over the next one month. Only after this will they listen to all the glorious benefits and features of your product. It is after they have purchased that they will pass your benefit story to the consumer or their own customers. Always check that your people are selling the profit story right.
You are not selling
Again, you are obviously wondering what do I mean by “you are not selling” after all where you not the one that sold the product to the Distributor or wholesaler, right? Unfortunately, your work as a sales manager does not end when you collect the cheque and make the supply. It is your responsibility as the brand owner to initiate activities and marketing supports that will drive consumers to the product. This will involve consumer-focused supports that ensures that dealer sales out. It will also involve off the-shelf simulators. If you are not marketing for them then you may need to stop wondering. You are simply not selling. Creating the return purchases is as important as the initial. Failure to do this may mean your next cheque may be in 3months instead of next month.
Sales are a function that thrives on passion and creativity. The big players in the industry understand this quite well and any serious brand owner would do well to observe what these pacesetters are doing so as benchmark their system, howbeit, within the ambit of reasonable budget and professional guidance.