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Rebirth of Sales & the Golden Age of Trade Marketing (Second of Three Parts)

Nov 01, 2021

In today’s highly dynamic and sophisticated trade environment, merely having a sales force is no longer enough. Having only sales representatives, who build relationships with their accounts and ensure purchase orders are picked up, is a surefire way to guarantee your company’s deterioration over the next couple of years.

The sales organization of a consumer goods manufacturer needs to adapt in order to survive and thrive in the present market environment. Companies need to firmly establish three things in terms of sales infrastructure to directly covered accounts:

1. Sales Managers who think like overall business managers;

2. Trade Marketing Managers who think like marketing managers, sales managers, and retailers/ wholesalers; and

3. Operating Processes that ensure #1 and #2 work seamlessly well.

Sales Managers Who Think Like Overall Business Managers – Retailers will now be exerting more and more pressure on the Sales Manager, not only for better margins, return on inventory invested, transaction count and value. Equally important are unique and exciting consumer promotions, SKU rationalization, space optimization, shopper insight, and retail brand development.

Manufacturers have to take a long hard look at their sales organization and assess whether its people each have what it takes for today’s trading environment. Yesterday’s sales manager with the gift of gab and an endearing manner, but deathly afraid of numbers, charts and computers, will find it very difficult to survive in today’s environment. This will ultimately negatively impact business.

Sales managers now need to think like overall business managers. This means having not just a top-line sales-to-trade responsibility but also a sales- to-consumer responsibility, a stock-availability responsibility, and a bottom-line profit responsibility for his accounts.

This ensures that Sales Managers have a multidimensional responsibility to the business and, in turn, ensures that several critical aspects of the business are now looked after by the front liners.

Trade Marketing Managers Who Think Like Marketing Managers, Sales Managers, and Retailers/ Wholesalers – Trade marketing, simply put, is the link between marketing and sales. A marketing manager differs from a trade marketing manager.

A marketing manager must know the heart of the consumer to be able to communicate or market to that consumer. A Trade Marketing Manager, on the other hand, must know the heart of the trader in order to communicate or market to that consumer.

A Marketing Manager communicates the Consumer Value Proposition to the end consumer of a product. A Trade Marketing Manager communicates the Customer Business Proposition to a trader, who does not consume the product but makes a profit on selling the product through his establishment.

The Trade Marketing Manager (TMM) is differentiated from the Sales Manager in many aspects. First is that the TMM sees the big picture: total national, per region, per channel, brand perspective, category perspective, trade perspective. The Sales Manager is focused on the jurisdiction he is responsible for.

Second, the TMM interfaces within the company as the strategic representative of both Sales and the Trade. He interfaces primarily with marketing but also, ultimately, with the whole company such as finance and logistics on instances such as new product development, supply shortages, promotions planning and implementation, channel planning, among others. On the other hand, Sales is focused on in-market planning and execution and engages functionally on a limited basis internally.

Third and very critical is that the TMM is the chief architect, guardian, and ambassador of the Brand/Channel Strategy. This is the strategic blueprint of how each brand’s directions are executed in each trade channel in each region, considering the realities and dynamics of the trade, the region, the accounts, the competition, and the organization.

This is the heart of Trade Marketing. This is where the TMM collaborates with Marketing, Sales, the Trade and other necessary functions within and outside of the organization to ensure that the Brand/Channel Strategy is a robust guideline that can focus, align, and create an approach the organization will follow on its route to market.

(Part 2/3 China Business Philippines09/09)