SERIOUS SKILL SET
Excerpt on the book “How to Sell to Modern Trade in the Philippines”
Modern trade stores in the Philippines offer huge business opportunities to vendors selling to this particular channel, if handled well. Over the years, these modern trade stores have become quite complex to sell and to manage. Primary accounts like SM, Robinsons, Puregold are in a heated race towards market consolidation with respective business strategies requiring vendors to align with their strategic directions.
The book on “How to Sell to Modern Trade in the Philippines” offers documented “experiential” and best-practice advice to modern trade sales team, consumer goods trade marketing practitioners and top management of companies selling to modern trade stores.
The subject of this article will focus on the account managers who are at the forefront facing these retailers. They are the catalyst ensuring sustainable business with retailers. This class of account managers need to have an extensive and serious skill set that includes soft skills, hard skills and hybrid skills that are employed at moments’ notice for specific and varied selling situations with retailer’s key personnel.
The skill set will require a firm foundation which involves actual selling experience in fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) setting; and the tested resourcefulness to handle these types of accounts. The FMCG selling experience involves understanding how a typical modern grocery retailer operates and capability to nurture long-term business relationships.
In Chapter 12, the five key account selling strategies have been cited. These are access selling, value-added selling, consultative selling, sales negotiation and team selling. These selling strategies require a specific skill or combination of skills in order to execute successfully. During the course of my career as a sales manager, I have observed account managers with under-developed account management skill set, though they tried their best to sell to modern trade accounts. Unfortunately, they performed rather poorly, as they needed formal training.
The necessary skill set can be acquired and fortified through a formal training program supplemented with a self-improvement program. I was fortunate enough to experience this type of training program early in my career when I was part of a modern trade accounts sales team of a multinational consumer goods company that was preparing for the entry of global retailers in the Philippines in the year 2000, like Walmart, Carrefour, Costco, Target, etc. Their entry did not materialize but local major grocery chains took the lead in expansion and market consolidation.
The training program was a series of learning sessions, appropriately spaced to ensure knowledge retention, lasted for a year. It included enhancing soft skills involving effective presentation skills, business writing skills, and negotiations skills. It was a combination of skills building aimed at enhancing “muscle memory” execution through role-playing and simulations. It was supplemented with hard skills classroom training on key account management and category management concepts with real-world application with retailers, which are both vital for long-term business development. The offshoot of the combined training on key account management and category management produced a hybrid skill that enabled account managers to have both selling and marketing skill and mindset applied at the account level. The training program will undoubtedly boost confidence and ensure success in selling to and managing modern trade accounts.
Building the “serious skill set” of the modern trade sales team through training will certainly be a wise investment for vendors selling to modern trade which was emphasized in the book. The fruit of the training program for modern trade account managers will produce profitable sales, improved retailer relationship, and lesser issues with modern trade retailers.
Understand more about “fortifying the account managers’ skill set and why it is necessary through the book — “How to Sell to Modern Trade Retailer in the Philippines” published and distributed by PowerSkills.