What we consider to be separate issues are sometimes symptoms of a bigger problem
The moment that brands finally entrust their products to retailers should be the moment when months of planning and hard work begin to pay off in the form of positive sales figures and glowing customer reviews. Unfortunately, this crucial time can be interrupted by several common problems that damage the customer experience and result in disappointing sell-through.
Little control over the customer experience can make brands feel powerless. This is compounded by a pervasive inability to get the right product knowledge to all your sales associates, the daunting difficulty of building a network of brand advocates, and limited access to actionable data from the shop floor.
Understandably, brands encountering these problems try to tackle each of them head-on to minimise the damage as quickly as possible. However, it’s a dire mistake to treat each problem as an isolated issue, since they all stem from the same root cause - poor sales enablement strategies.
Let’s take a step back and look at why these problems arise, and what you can do about them.
Bad Customer Experience
When you hand your product over to frontline retail staff, months of design and marketing work rests on the ability of retailers to provide optimal customer experiences and confidently recommend your product to the right customer. Indeed, according to one study, 42% of people purchase more after receiving a good customer experience, showing that well-informed, confident salespeople who understand your brand and are able to showcase your product’s best features can drive your product forward, ensuring that all your hard work pays off.
Unfortunately, a poor sales enablement strategy at this stage can hamstring your ability to engage with sales staff and ensure they have a clear understanding of your brand, your products, and how to position them. This can result in a muddled customer experience, instead of allowing your marketing and design work to really shine through.
Once your product has launched, you might find that it’s selling well in one location but flagging in another. It’s tempting to blame an underperforming sales team or a simple lack of interest in your product in this location, but inconsistent figures like this can actually reflect a lack of engagement with retail sellers.
This is usually indicative of an underlying disconnect between your brand and sellers, who may therefore lack the knowledge and resources needed to sell your product effectively. That same disconnect can make it difficult to reach out and reinvigorate underperforming sales teams, entrenching poor sell-through. By contrast, better collaboration with retail partners can generate operating margin improvements of up to 10%.
Inefficient Knowledge Transfer
The disconnect between brands and sellers brings us to another common problem – brand and product knowledge not being transferred efficiently to retail teams. Although poor training and inadequate information can undoubtedly hamper sales teams, the deeper issue at hand in these cases is an inability to reach out and help sellers who need to fill gaps in their knowledge. Especially when you have a large retail footprint with many frontline sales associates that need your support.
The absence of a holistic strategy linking frontline sellers with brands can result in sales staff missing the additional support they need to be able to understand your brand, product and ideal customer personas. In many cases, a timely and scalable injection of knowledge and support is all that’s required to measurably enhance a sales team’s performance.
Limited Access to Shop Floor Data
Just as an inefficient flow of information from the brand to the frontline sales staff can deprive sellers of the knowledge they need, a lack of granular feedback from retail teams can hinder your understanding of where things are going wrong and impact your ability to change things for the better.
A lack of retail sales enablement strategies and tools cements this problem for brands by failing to incorporate strong data collection practices into their relationship with sales staff. As a result, brands lose out on important knowledge about how frontline sellers feel about their product, or how engagement with your training materials correlates with sales figures. One third of retailers report significant ROI from sharing data with suppliers, demonstrating how access to this knowledge can noticeably improve your ability to collaborate with retail teams and boost sell-through.
No Brand Advocacy
Brands understandably invest heavily in marketing and advertising, attempting to ensure that their brand reaches as many people as possible. What sometimes gets overlooked in this is the powerful effect frontline sellers can have as brand advocates.
One reason this factor isn’t always considered is the lack of control brands have over the customer experience. The absence of a clear sales enablement strategy can leave sellers isolated and detract from their ability to sell your product. Supply them with up-to-date and useful brand and product information, and the opposite is true. Given that 75% of people don’t believe adverts while 90% of people trust brand recommendations from friends,it’s a big missed opportunity. By spending time nurturing a connection with sales associates, brands not only improve the customer experience but also create fans who will transfer their passion onto customers. Engaged and well-informed salespeople can become powerful advocates for your brand and drive sales with their enthusiasm for your product.
The Common Denominator
Most brands will experience these problems at some point. As you can see, all of these problems derive from an inadequate sales enablement strategy and inability to leverage sales enablement tools, which results in poor communication between brands and retailers, difficulty in identifying the factors underpinning inconsistent or lacklustre sales, and an inability to rectify problems once they emerge.
This is where sales enablement platforms come in. By enabling seamless communication, they make it possible for brands to build meaningful and valuable relationships with frontline sales teams, resulting in informed and passionate sales associates committed to providing the best experience for customers and driving sales.
By feeding back useful data about sales teams, retail engagement platforms also enable brands to understand where things are going wrong and find solutions to problems before they become entrenched.
By addressing the root cause of the problems mentioned in this article, Myagi’s retail engagement platform allows brands to build scalable and meaningful connections with their retail sales associates, resulting in optimized customer experience, an increase in sell-through, and successful product launches. To discuss how Myagi can help you in more detail, get in touch with us.