We’ve spoken at length about the revolution occurring within retail. The new world order of retail, relative to how manufacturers are wanting companies like MarketStar to go-to-market on their behalf, is starting to take shape. It’s an exciting future, one which MarketStar is well prepared to excel in based on our heritage as a sales performance and quota-driven organization.
First, here is a little backstory. When our founder, Alan Hall, first pioneered the vision of an outsourced sales and marketing company that filled the gap in the buyer’s journey between consumers and their technological knowledge, there wasn’t a huge tactical distinction between our efforts with B2C and B2B activities. Everyone was on the same playing field and trying to understand how technology might improve their home or business; thus, operationally we did very similar things regardless of the audience.
As the years passed and business buyers became more educated, and competition became fiercer for enterprise dollars, manufacturers began to rely on channels for distribution. In order to continue serving our clients, our business evolved and we developed a more formal sales organization that could meet the needs of that evolved audience.
When it comes to retail, we continue to focus fundamentally on the tactics we built our retail reputation on 25+ years ago, namely brand advocacy and store associate training. Until just a few years ago, the retail store was still the one-stop shop regardless of your stage in the buyer’s journey. A deliberate investment to influence the hearts and minds of store associates was still a dollar well spent for most manufacturers.
Today the retail store experience has evolved from being a holistic end-to-end buying experience. It’s no longer a linear process and there are multiple channels influencing consumer awareness, consideration, and research. Most consumer research and validation are being done right from their mobile devices. The shopping experience is no longer limited to an in-store experience. We’re relying more on the social influence of our personal networks to shape brand perception than ever before. This often changes the role and reputation of a store associate to “order taker” and “transaction specialist,” rather than a trusted advisor in the late stages of a buyer’s journey.
What is required in today’s marketplace is a new perspective on sales tactics employed at the point of purchase. Savvy brands are shifting their focus from brand advocacy alone to assisted sales within the store. This is easier said than done because the individual, who is great at building relationships within a store and guiding a formal training, is not always the same individual who can stand in a store and provide assisted sales support to consumers.
Am I saying traditional brand advocacy activities are going the way of the dinosaur? Absolutely not. There are very specific points in the product lifecycle where advocacy should be the focus of a brand’s retail engagement strategy and we still love building those relationships on behalf of our clients. What we are seeing is that for some companies, brand advocacy is becoming an ancillary benefit that comes from the success a store experiences when sales are high; the associates recommend what sells, creating a circular effect.
There are four key imperatives to assisted sales success on this scale: Recruiting, Coverage, Sales Conversion, and Reporting. I invite you to contact me, or a member of our retail business development team, to learn how to leverage this information to increase your retail sell-through.
As I mentioned above, the profile for a successful assisted sales professional is different than that of a proficient Brand Advocate. From a retention standpoint, we’ve also found that having one individual try to do the other doesn’t always translate. Programs that hire and staff specific to the activity see better results and have better retention overall.
Tools like Predictive Index we use to source candidates that not only match your brand’s persona but also show an aptitude and attitude in line with successful sales activities, ensures we ramp quickly and efficiently, and sales lift is realized sooner in the engagement.
Keep in mind a 60% sales lift in a store that only average one sale per hour, will have nowhere near the impact of a 60% sales lift in a store that average 6 sales per hour.
We’ve championed the idea that the customer is king in today’s retail environment. If the customer is king, why not deploy your team in their kingdom through a dialed-in coverage model, showing where results are mostly like to be seen. With the data available today, it’s not impossible to have 3-4 tiers of coverage based on geography, peak shopping hours, sales, buyer personas, and demographic data.
Converting the sale is ultimately what we are hired to do, and we work tirelessly to meet or exceed expectations. Our years of refining and optimizing B2B sales models and managing towards those objectives, has prepared us for this new world order of retail.
We’re not afraid of quotas or sales specific metrics and are working with our digital team, along with other Omnicom agencies, to integrate our in-store efforts with other omni-channel investments. The intent is to maximize awareness and brand engagement before a consumer even walks into the store. These integrated efforts are key to driving more of the right kinds of traffic into the right retailers to maximize sales.
As experience becomes more important to the last three feet of the sale, digital interactions that seamlessly bring the consumer’s online experiences together with their offline interactions and the brand are becoming the standard for dynamic and successful in-store activities. An in-store interaction is part of a broader brand experience and knitting those experiences together for brands so that the relationships don’t begin or end in the store is our vision for the future of retail.
We believe the years of activity based metrics are gone. As much of a brand advocacy motion’s influence is indirect, we’ve been able to meet client expectations in the past with activity based reporting: numbers around stores visited, sales associated trained etc.
More and more clients are asking us to report on very specific, financially focused metrics like Sales per Hour, Sales per Store, Customers Engaged, Ratio of Sales to Interactions Converted to Sale, etc.
The new world order in retail doesn’t have to be a scary or bad thing for your company. By identifying the areas of true change, and how to align with them, MarketStar is prepared to help your company excel at retail and not get lost in the competition.
If you are interested in the case studies used to validate this post, please contact Matt Peterson at firstname.lastname@example.org who can set up an appointment to share with you our findings in greater detail