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How do you get mindshare from your retail sales channel?

November 11, 2019 Tags: Blog

How do you get mindshare from your retail sales channel?

Marketing and Sales Managers like you, have struggled with creating mindshare at the retail sales edge. You have deployed promoters, field force, training, and incentives in order to enable better brand alignment.
Customers are now smarter than before. They research products and read reviews, online. Some of them are even overwhelmed by the choices available, especially when buying appliances, consumer electronics, etc. As per McKinsey Research, 57% of the customers switch at the store. The Salesperson at the retail outlet is the primary reason the customer makes the switch. But, do you believe that they have the required alignment towards your brand?

Mindshare is a tricky subject. It is the amount of space your brand occupies in the mind of a retail salesperson. When a sales opportunity presents itself at the store, does the retail sales partner think about your brand’s product, first? Undoubtedly, your retail partner also has several other products, including your competitors’ to sell. So then, how can you get them to present your brand to the customer, first?
Our research with 100s of sales folks has shown that a combination of incentives, knowledge, skills and the feeling of belonging create mindshare. Let us share some concepts used by our customers to gain mindshare.

Feeling part of the community: The retail salesperson does not work for your company and has only engaged with your brand through sporadic training programs. They don’t necessarily have a personal association or loyalty towards your company. Research from Daniel Pink’s book “Drive” shows that an increasing feeling of autonomy creates the motivation to sell products. This requires making the salesperson feel like it is their decision (of their own free will) to sell your company’s product. For this, retail salesperson needs to have a relationship with your company. The only way to make this happen is through constant and continuous engagement, and by creating real opportunities for them to provide feedback.

Knowledge & Skills:  As a marketing manager, you know that a knowledgeable salesperson makes more sales. The current techniques to train up might include sending trainers to the retail locations, Chances are, you may not be able to target the entire team of sales representatives – a full attendance may not be assured. Because this is an expensive proposition and factoring the high turnover of retail sales representatives, new salespersons may not get trained, as their predecessors did. Our research discovered that most of these sales representatives rely on the instore Senior Sales Personnel for knowledge or often have to wait for the next Adhoc training to occur. Retail sales representatives, often want to have confidence in the products that they sell, and this confidence comes from a steady stream of product information that is updated regularly and reinforced, from time to time. This information has to be available for their access on-the-go. Thereby ensuring that they are, ‘Always Sales-Ready’.

Incentives: It has been proven that rewards can be very beneficial in incentivizing salespersons to sell a specific product. But then, this would require a constant and steady flow of incentive programs. Consistency and quality of the rewards also play an important role in motivating the salesforce.
A research conducted by the University of Chicago shows that even noncash awards can improve sales performance by 9.6%.

Post some of the interviews that we conducted on the ground, we were informed that a key frustrating area for many retail sales representatives was that most of these rewards and incentives are not transparent and/or instantaneous. They are, most times, completely dependent on the retail store owner or the distributor and it usually takes several months before the incentives can be redeemed. Sales representatives prefer knowing, beforehand, how much or what they can get and when they can get it.

 

Gaining channel mindshare means integrating Continuous Engagement, Expertise Enablement, and Instant Incentives. Solving these problems individually may not create real sales advocates for your brand. For example, to incentivize e-learning, quizzes can create better sales readiness and if this is done in a consistent manner, it could create the right behaviour amongst the sales representatives. As explained in the Fogg behaviour model, the salespersons need to be motivated in order to perform and exceed, while they also have to be enabled with skills and product knowledge to carry out that the desired sales behaviour. This is possible only when you integrate Engagement, Enablement, and Rewards.

This becomes a tremendous challenge when you want to reach out to thousands of retail sales representatives in a country or region or globally. Digitizing the last mile channel with easy to use platform will provide unique answers to this challenge.