This months Expert Speak comes from Karen Jackson, MD, CPM UK.
At CPM UK, we’re leading the way in sales analytics by combining cutting edge analytics software, machine learning, artificial intelligence and our team of amazing data scientists to deploy the power of predictive analytics through our PREDICT solution.
Even today’s fastest retail analytics teams are gathering data today, analysing it overnight, to drive actions and resource deployment the following day – and they call this dynamic.
We believe that however fast this is – your teams are still being forced to react to historical data… and if you are reacting, you’re missing valuable opportunities and not running a fully optimised team. To be truly optimised and drive the highest returns possible, you need to predict the future. Predictive analytics is nothing new, but with the data that’s now available and the technology that can support in analysing that data – we now have the perfect opportunity to use predictive analytics to drive optimal resource deployment for our clients.
Machine learning is a form of AI that enables our systems to learn from data rather than through explicit programming. However, machine learning is not a fully artificial intelligence-controlled process. Our human experts set the outcome required to solve a business problem and the machine then analyses all variables to create the best hypothesis (and algorithm), and as new data is added the system learns and increases accuracy.
For example, consider what drives sales in stores (outcome), machine learning will look at all variables including consumer density, stock availability and sales data to create a predicted algorithm. As more data is added over time the algorithm adapts and increases in accuracy.
Put simply Artificial Intelligence (AI) is the ability of a machine to simulate human behaviour without
the need for human input. This differs from machine learning by not requiring a human to intervene once set up. The machine thinks like a human by setting the business problem, building the machine learning models and then rolling them out.
This means that AI becomes your ‘analyst’, learning from data and making recommendations that can help to improve activity to grow your sales
With our considerable investment in PREDICT we can now help brands, retailers and any business harness the vast amount of Big Data to hand to create true insight in the form of predictive analytics. If you imagine a world where you can accurately predict when and where your next biggest opportunity (or risk) is going to occur and then deploy the right resource, be it human, digital or phygital to optimise that opportunity, in the most efficient way, then you have imagined CPM’s new predictive analytics and liquid workforce solution. This ground-breaking solution will transform how businesses profitably sell, now and into the future.
Predict is now live and several of our customers are already benefiting from a considerable sales uplift through our integration of Predict with our field sales CRM and analytics solutions we that we have deployed for them today.
To read more about how predictive analytics can drive higher returns, click here
Outsourced Field Sales Team – What happens at night….
This month’s Expert Speak comes from Bastiaan van Houten, MD, CPM Netherlands. In 2001 Bastiaan started his CPM career with a field sales job at Diageo and in 2004 moved into CPM’s Dutch head office for a role in direct sales. After various roles and positions Bastiaan started Cosine Benelux in 2011 and merged this business in 2015 with CPM Netherlands.
In this article we would like to showcase a new solution for our logistic process and the path we followed to get there. We all know the challenges in our Industry, clients asking us to improve ROI by driving efficiency whilst on the other side we experience increasing prices and a tight labour market. Let’s take you to the situation that triggered this new business innovation.
Imagine yourself; a client with an outsourced field sales team, the sales representatives are working on a maximum workload (#locations and #tasks per store). The client wants to expand the number of locations, without budget for extra resources. They ask CPM for a solution. We all know these challenges, drive efficiency and improve ROI.
On the other side the project manager has the same challenge. The labour market is tight, suppliers are raising their prices on a yearly base and we’ve already implemented several efficiency plans with this client. Expanding stores means expanding the team or downsizing the tasks.
CPM organised a brainstorm and investigation session and it became clear: the big bottleneck in the efficiency was the time the team spent driving to the storage location and then to the first appointment. We knew if there was a way we could do things differently we could create more time in-store, which would result in achieving an increase in ROI.
Now that we had identified the bottleneck we were close to the solution. How can we improve? What is not used yet…..? Exactly, the night! Yes, we can do an overnight car delivery and forget about our traditional storage! Whilst the team sleeps we can get all materials delivered to their cars, so when they wake up they can go straight to their first address, eureka!
But would this be cost efficient? We put all the elements in a calculation module. The cost for cost calculation ended up equal, but we were able to increase in-store coverage by 6% to 8%. By switching to overnight car delivery we found a cost and time efficient solution. We managed to expand the stores, using the same quantity of people and tasks, without raising the costs. Case Closed!
Overnight car delivery
How it works: The driver picks up the materials at a dropping point. The cars are equipped with a high tech GPS system that allocates the cars they need to supply and directly calculates the most efficient route. The car boot can be opened with a smart lock, which locks again automatically. Returns can be picked up by the driver at the same time. A flexible solution, that’s scalable when needed.
At this moment we’re rolling this out with our first client and expect many to follow. Overnight delivery is a cost effective solution for areas with a high densely and raising salaries, small countries with many inhabitants or the bigger urban area’s in low density countries.
As an outsourced sales agency we need to keep looking to the future and what the future is bringing us. The time we live in is very exciting; of course clients & employees are more and more demanding. However on the other side the world is changing so rapidly there are innovative solutions everywhere. Let’s explore them, find out how we can use and implement these new solutions in our daily business. Embrace new technologies and continuously be that innovative and flexible partner that looks one step ahead.
The Means Matter – Improving Sales
Our latest CPM Expert Speak comes from Mandeep Singh; MD & CEO, CPM India.
The process of closing a business at CPM India is akin to any other business pitching to win. Upon receiving the requirements, we prepare extensively by discerning the pain points of our prospective client, strategise masterfully the exact method of execution, and present stunningly to secure the client and win the business.
Moments of celebration later, a conventional business would begin the process of delivering on the promised key performance indicators and commence the execution of the won project. This is the output phase where a company gets lost in the daily grind of achieving the end results of increasing the share of shelves, improving sales numbers, etc.
A vacuum is created between these two phases which is what separates CPM India from the conventional business. We, at CPM India, believe that ‘the means matter’ and we put the same amount of efforts in this input phase as any other phase. How do we do that?
We do it through PERFORMICS which is nothing but performing retail execution by building better insights and capabilities for improving sales. We essentially integrated CPM’s brand essence to create a product that puts us on the retail intelligence map.
PERFORMICS is a tool-aided process to synergize the efforts of different silos and smooth the flow of information from the top to bottom and vice versa. It enables the client teams to plan activities such as merchandising activities, target tracking, and route planning through a customized web portal, the information from which directly flows to the android applications available with the field sales force which can use it to easily capture data and carry out the planned activities and also provide the client sales teams access to real time information. PERFORMICS includes compliance and analytics modules to audit the work and transform the available data into actionable retail insights. The whole process accelerates the performance and improves the sales manifold.
PERFORMICS has been a great enabler for us to look at the quality of inputs and focus on some data points to ensure that the end results are achieved. All in all,
PERFORMICS is a way to fill the void that existed in a client-agency relationship and has opened the doors for CPM India to venture into the retail intelligence space and make a huge impact. More importantly, PERFORMICS lets CPM India work more effectively for its existing clients to create insights that create the influence to drive sales.
The Key to Delivering a Successful Regional Sales Activity
Delivering Success Across the Region
Our latest CPM Expert Speak comes from Martin Ryan; Chief Development Officer at CPM Group of Companies Asia Pacific. Martin has worked for CPM for eighteen years and has over twenty five years industry experience. He has overseen numerous regional projects, experienced great success, but also some crushing disappointments.
Here’s his candid overview of how to deliver regional success based on personal hard lessons learned.
Delivering Regional Success
Winning regional business across a diverse geography is a special thrill. Within the space of a few hundred miles, languages, cultural norms, and currency can morph into something wholly different. Navigating across regions is always tricky and although better communication tools may have made distance seem smaller, the secret of successful regional sales activity lies in how we combine the efficiency of modern technology with other more human tools.
The Starting Line
Start by defining your team’s purpose. When CPM Singapore embarked on a regional project with a leading tech client we spent time completing a detailed analysis of their particular vision of success. What were the common threads applicable to all countries? What were the precise elements of measurement?
If possible, look for insight to those who are already delivering. A major factor in CPM Singapore winning a regional project with another tech giant was the time invested in understanding how the established Australian team delivered their strong track record of success. They were hugely generous in sharing their knowledge and we made substantial effort to join the dots so we could apply their established procedures across the region. This knowledge also gave us deep insight into the client’s culture and their expectations of an outsourced field sales agency. I believe this was a significant differentiator between CPM and our competitors, and a critical part of our successful bid.
You Need a Detailed Contract
Once the team’s purpose is clearly defined, time must be taken to draw up a robust contract. Of course, it’s always hoped that everyone will play fair, but when crossing country boundaries it is crucial to state any legal liabilities, payment terms, and other obligations. Painstakingly outlining these clauses is something I learned the hard way. Relationships built on trust are important, but when other departments and countries get involved you need an unambiguous written agreement that balances transparency with what you may normally be take on trust.
You also need a clear process to manage billing and currency fluctuations. Having this in place in advance makes billing seamless and revenue easier to forecast. Outlining obligations when the contract ends is also important as different employment laws exist in different countries and you don’t want to be exposed to large redundancy payments.
This is also the time to set some ground rules for communication and response times, and all KPIs should be stated. Clearly outlining these before the activity starts will set realistic expectations and avoid mission creep.
Build Credibility by Building Key Relationships
A regional team must ooze credibility and to do this they must be capable. Some of the leadership attributes required include a good dose of self- confidence, the ability to think clearly and make decisions, being self- driven when remote, endowed with brilliant communication skills, technically astute, and not scared to present both to groups and in front of the camera. An underrated skill is the ability to communicate over the telephone, both one to one and in a conference call.
To make regional activity fly you also have to be a relationship ninja.
Start by knowing the client’s country by country structure. How does it differ? Who are the key people and what do they do? Have a clear understanding of which relationships to concentrate on and then put the time in to make them work.
Part of this includes an attitude of transparency and openness which can go beyond your working life. Trust people and give them access to your calendar, include details like holidays and children’s events at school. We live in a time when the boundaries between work and life are blurred and a regional role means you will be working outside of your own time zone’s conventional working day. This is the new norm so embrace it and make it part of your life. Inject a genuine and vigorous enthusiasm.
Once you have established this human connection and built key relationships at a local level you will know who to contact in each market, you will build respect, save time and avoid potential misdirection.
Make Your Field or Contact Centre Team the Most Important Aspect of the Activity
Your most important customers are the team delivering results. They’re the ones generating sales and smashing targets. They’re also spread over a large geography and making them feel part of a unified, emotionally connected team is a critical priority. Involve them, talk to them face to face whenever possible and painstakingly understand their needs and frustrations. Take the time to really listen and make sure you paraphrase what they are saying to prove you have heard them.
A regional sales project requires a global vision to set the strategy, but management of it needs to be carried out regionally utilising a deep insight into local processes. It takes dogged determination and patience to unravel and understand each step of the data collection process and collation of reporting. Acquiring this knowledge ensures a strong foundation, and facilitates informed decision making. Applying this rigor along with an understanding of where existing CPM solutions can fill gaps means you can make informed and creative decisions on what to adopt, or if it almost works, what to adapt, and only as a last resort do you revert to reinvention.
Grow Your Capabilities and be Innovative
Regional sales activity is not rigid; it is an iterative process that requires a solution that’s nimble and responsive. Knowing how to leverage existing solutions and apply the best of what is available locally is a fine balance, as giving teams too much freedom can compromise results. You need to know what’s non-negotiable and apply a rigorous application of continuous improvement. When you spend time understanding how people work you will know when it’s time to use the carrot, and when use of the stick is more appropriate.
To summarise, here’s what I’ve learned about running a successful regional sales activity. Start by really knowing your purpose, both regionally and in each country. Once you have clearly defined your objectives, assemble the reporting structure around them. Adopt processes that work elsewhere in your business, adapt them to give local relevance, and only reinvent as a last resort. Make sure you have a detailed contract and include clauses that define liabilities.
Build key relationships. Success stems from open human trust. When possible be available across the region’s working day but also let people know when you are not available. Embed yourself into your client’s organisation and become indispensable without being arrogant.
Build credible and capable teams, culturally adaptable and results focused. Understand and connect with your sales team. Make sure they feel you are involving them and understand their needs and frustrations. Grow your capabilities. Solutions are iterative and constantly evolving. Be energetic and responsive and don’t become complacent.
Branching out from the local to the regional can be bewildering and at times maddeningly frustrating, but it can also be richly rewarding and joyous, transforming your understanding of both yourself and the hyper connected global world we inhabit. Fully embracing a deep knowledge of your client and becoming a trusted indispensable regional partner is one of the best things in our business.
How can an Outsourced Agency Demonstrate Value in a Competitive Marketplace ?
Providing a service to clients that manifestly increases sales will always be the cornerstone of a strong value proposition. Pricing this significant service at a rate that represents fair value for this impact on a client’s business is an increasingly difficult task in today’s competitive marketplace. But I strongly believe it is more important than ever to focus on the value of the offering and clearly articulate what difference this can make to the client’s business. Admittedly, and realistically, price is not irrelevant. Mickey Drexler, ex-CEO of J. Crew, says “The real price of goods is always the selling price. The best price is to sell it for what it’s worth.”
So, how does an outsourced agency demonstrate worth, maintain a keen pricing structure, and avoid a negotiation where the only outcome is a spiraling descent to the bargain basement of both price and value, a process I describe as ‘the race to the bottom’?
Before even venturing to introduce a pricing model, an agency must start each relationship by making strenuous efforts to understand the client needs and then clearly demonstrate the value of their agency’s creativity and wisdom.
Understand what problem the client needs to have solved? Be clear about what insight the agency can bring to the table? Ask searching questions and encourage the client to really define what success means to them. All of this helps to establish a level of trust and to forge common alignment.
It also embraces transparency and a deeper understanding on both sides. Interestingly for the potential client, a closer evaluation of their needs helps the client to evaluate potential providers on their approach and capability rather than solely on price.
What about the spectre of procurement? For many sales or new business teams, the mere mention of procurement evokes a rolling of the eyes or worse!
In my multifaceted role as a Global Chief Operating Officer, Asia President, and Senior Accounting Officer for the CPM Group of companies, I’ve endured many negotiations with zealous procurement teams, watching each element of our service being systematically broken down and assigned a price instead of a value. It’s a very straightforward, almost mechanical, process to place a price on inputs with no bearing on the benefits.
However, the procurement team/individual that can relate those inputs to the value created in the outputs, embraces the real added value the organisation seeks. The procurement professional can help demystify the challenges of internal budget structures versus real output based pricing, and work collectively with marketing and their agency to build a cost model that rewards good work and demonstrates value.
This can be the huge benefit of procurement done well. Yes, they often force agencies to examine their costs and present them in a more transparent manner, but this can only benefit any business longer term. Understanding the price of service delivery is essential for agencies to then realise profit whilst ensuring clients get value.
PepsiCo has recently eliminated procurement from marketing negotiations, but 53% of companies still involve procurement and the onus is on sales teams to embrace this and positively influence the decision-making process, defending their value proposition by clearly demonstrating its impact whilst working in an open and transparent manner, building trust with its procurement client as well as the marketing teams.
If business is negotiated on the correct footing, with the service framed as an investment not an expense, then both the client and the outsourced agency can harness the power of synergy and create a mutually successful outcome, based, not simply on cost, but on value linked to insight and a robust ROI.
Winning business that has a miserably low margin while voraciously consuming precious resources, leads to an inevitable and sometimes bitter parting of the ways, which can have a big impact on the agency’s business overall. It takes courage to hold your nerve around the negotiating table and look for new ways to add value, but it is imperative that your service is not viewed as a mere commodity. I’m afraid to say that all too often agencies have nobody but themselves to blame as they agree to commercial arrangements that are best described as suicidal. Who can blame client procurement, they are merely doing what we all try to do, which is secure the best product at the lowest price. I’d like to purchase a luxury car for the same price as a mid- range sedan, wouldn’t you? The fundamental issue here is procurement will keep asking for more concessions until the agency says no! The agency must find ways to say yes outside of simply cutting price and leverage the value-added aspects of the work the agency can and does do for the client.
The world is our marketplace and communication is getting faster. Whole industries, including retail, have undergone tremendous disruption. To be competitive, agencies must be agile, able to simplify process and embrace diversity. Rigidity is a thing of the past. Linear thinking and acting is hopelessly outdated. We must all work on a broader commercial approach. Business is global and it has never been easier to communicate and harness global learnings.
I recently attended a regional conference in Asia where teams from six countries pitted their collective problem-solving and creative skills to put forward several workable project plans designed to roll out across the region for a major client. The client was in the room and was electrified by the sheer energy and practical application achieved in a breathtakingly short amount of time. This was a clear demonstration of how enhanced service can be collectively achieved by harnessing the synergy of truly diverse teams.
Agencies must foster and encourage mental agility and flexibility amongst their people as they are the drivers of value. Business can’t be exclusively conducted from the isolation of a desk. Client service teams should actively network and absorb thoughts and insights from a diversity of sources. We all must keep up with current trends in the market and strive to be thought leaders, the respected “go-to” person in our field. This is especially important if we are going to master and exploit change and not be left an irrelevant colossus, too big and bloated to adapt in the face of fundamental upheaval.
In an increasingly digital world, the distance between clients and the field has never been closer. Agencies must manage their reputations, earn respect and nurture authenticity in all areas of our business. Actions and character must be in-sync and agencies must align what they do with what they
say. Relationship building has always been central to a successful campaign and now it is critical to get closer to clients. This means actively involving field teams.
Communication, like a fountain, must flow upwards as well as downwards. Agencies must inspire everyone to take responsibility and be heard, not mumble in the corner if things are not right. In a world where word of mouth is king, agencies should empower all employees to be advocates, the field teams are brand evangelists and a powerful manifestation of value.
Agencies destined to survive and thrive will be rooted in strong foundations and adaptable in the face of change. Always listening and globally aware, not complacently locked in silos. Not intransigent in the face of a problem and not taking the easy route of pointing fingers and blaming others. Instead, they must strive to think creatively about how to clear roadblocks as a team, with each member taking responsibility. It’s too easy to say no constantly; find ways to say yes that make commercial sense, add value and bring creativity to the solution required.
The pressure of today’s marketplace will always make it attractive for clients to go for a cheaper option. But business is rarely won on price alone. Competitors can undercut, but it is up to each agency to demonstrate they can offer an intelligent, consistent depth of service, delivered by a committed, energetic and engaged field team. Cutting corners and spiraling ever downwards leads to a race to the bottom and is ultimately unsustainable. Instead, focus should be concentrated on insight and people as they adapt, thrive and make evangelists of clients. There will be no better way to demonstrate value and as a positive by product, earn a decent margin.
Paul Woolley, August 2017
The beauty industry is the sector who owns the greatest variety of shoppers given the different distribution channels available: perfumeries, pharmacies, parapharmacies (specific to some countries), institutes, department stores, supermarkets or Internet. The profiles of the beauty consumers change based on their favorite shopping place. On the Internet we have the Millennials, in the pharmacies the ones who are looking for quality and natural products, in the supermarkets those who rush and in the perfumeries the luxurious shoppers.
My brand, my store
The difficult task for a brand is to achieve to shine no matter what or where and to target more possible shoppers. But what exactly does a beauty brand have to do to reach different categories of consumers simultaneously? Open their own brand store of course! In a dedicated store it is easier to reach various consumers’ profiles. In France, CPM created BRANDSHOPS, a turnkey solution designed to offer its clients the possibility to have their own store, whatever the format: pop-up store, corner, shop in shop, truck or just a first traditional permanent store. For instance, when L’Oréal Paris, Nyx or Gemey Maybelline chose to open their first stores in France, they called out to CPM France for the recruitment, training and management of the sales team. There are several advantages in opening a store among which strengthening the proximity to its customers in order to better know them, increasing the multichannel reach or offering a new brand experience.
Beauty & Mortar
With the global increasing trend of online shopping, the brands must align with their consumers’ requests and rethink their strategies. We tend to say that the future of retail consists in online shopping, but even if this channel is growing day by day, the beauty industry is the less impacted sector. Even if there is a new generation of beauty shoppers who are more inclined to buy online, ie the Millennials, most shoppers continue to go to the stores because here they can find samples and beauty advisors, and even make-up sessions for free. Consumers still need to feel, touch and test the cosmetics, the physical store thus has a real competitive edge and this experience cannot be yet replicated online.
In France, more than 50% of the beauty shoppers are stubborn when it comes to online shopping. However, 43% of beauty shoppers are using their smartphones to keep informed and to compare prices, even when they are in the store. The power of online shopping thus remains a threat and retailers have to continuously drive loyal and new customers to their stores. The actions they can leverage include a well-executed merchandising and beauty advisors with state-of-the-art knowledge on new trends, products and innovations. As previously mentioned, the Millennials, a generation which represents a large portion of beauty consumers, are the first ones turning to the internet before purchasing products. This generation chooses to trust the makeup recommendations of a makeup artist or beauty influencer on Instagram or YouTube over a salesperson in the store. And here lies the challenge for in-store salespeople: re-establish this advocacy. In order to compete with online beauty experts, brands must allow their sales teams to concentrate on their core tasks: sell. For merchandising services, training and sales team activation, we can come in.
The beauty buyers are more and more omnichannel, and a total uber-isation of this industry is still far away. The challenge for retailers remains their capacity to sharpen their systems and processes to ensure that the customer experience is a seamless one, whatever the distribution channel.
Veronique Motte, CPM France CEO discusses Sales Outsourcing in our latest CPM Expert Speak. The obvious choice for some but less well-known to others, sales outsourcing lets brands be more agile and keep ahead of the pack.
To adapt to situations, seasonality and new trends…
The modern consumer is multichannel. Their new needs and new ways of consuming are prompting brands to adapt, revise or even recast their marketing and sales strategies. This is having an impact on the efforts required of their salespeople in the distribution networks. Or rather it should. When a manufacturer’s sales force is given the task of concentrating on the French hypermarket network, it remains focused on the relationships it has built and maintained with each store. These sales representatives, who drive for miles along the roads of France for early morning appointments with department managers, do not have the “bandwidth” to absorb what we in our lingo call a new sales front. So, for a manufacturer who fully intends for its strategy to include the new network that is so popular with consumers, the convenience stores – Carrefour City, Franprix, G20, Intermarché Express, etc. – there is an alternative: the outsourced sales force.
In France, the new “convenience” sector accounts for over 8,500 outlets and 30% of growth in consumer products in 2015, according to Nielsen. In recent years, consumers have been using them with increasing frequency and in response, retailers have increased the number of outlets and thus the number of possible points of contact with these consumers.
In 2014, when French manufacturers were asked about the new challenges facing their sales force in 2016, they cited the improvement in coverage of the new distribution territories – corner shops, drive-thru, etc. When they were asked if they were using or planning to use outsourced sales forces, 55% of them answered “yes!”(PBMO study). The figures published by our French professional association, SORAP, also speak volumes. The outsourced sales force market grew by 9% between 2014 and 2015. Outsourced merchandising grew by 18.5%. This growth phenomenon is expected to continue.
Manufacturers measure the value that outsourced sales or merchandising forces sales teams can create as backup to their employees, by targeting stores that are not visited by them, such as neighbourhood or village mini-marts, but also beachside supermarkets and mountain grocery stores on a more seasonal basis. The importance of the phenomenon transcends our borders, with the same trends being observed in the United Kingdom, Germany and Italy. Outsourcing one’s sales force, or its merchandising or activation – the three main business lines of sales and field marketing agencies – is nothing new. What is new is the discovery of the many opportunities that this offers to brands in the current consumption environment, which many might describe as “complex” or even “confusing”.
… and to try new things, innovate and stay competitive
In order to benefit from a qualified sales team whose activities adapt to the year’s various high points, the brands are ready to team up with partners specialising in sales and field marketing campaigns, and try out new and original, even radical, commercial solutions. Like the outsourced shared sales force: shared between two manufacturers, these sales representatives can better and more efficiently cover a sales front in a more economical manner for each of them. In this case, the external service provider makes the relationship between the two companies much easier: part arbitrator, part advisor, it acts as a genuine facilitator while the brands retain complete freedom in defining their strategies.
Because in 2016, the sharing trend is bigger than ever! This is plain to see in the consumer services sector. On the B to B side of things, start-ups are increasingly taking it on board, with fab labs and co-working spaces. Sharing is thus becoming a true entrepreneurial philosophy that major manufacturers are embracing on their own scale with growing enthusiasm.
Other innovative mechanisms, such as e-merchandising (optimising product visibility on e-commerce or drive-thru sites) or crowdsourcing (data collection micro-tasks assigned to paid private individuals) also complement more traditional sales strategies.
For in addition to our local trends, players from further afield – Amazon, Alibaba, Costco, etc. – these names that are used to proclaim that competition is healthy, are transforming the distribution landscape. The status quo is definitely not an option.
For further information on this topic, please Contact Us today.