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Home > Blogs > Emerging sales skills in the post-Covid FMCG industry
Black swan events, historically, turn entire life upside down and lead to a new life afterwards. COVID-19 pandemic outbreak is not an exception. It created unprecedented uncertainty to countries, economies, industries, companies, markets and even common people. FMCG was one such industry, which was affected by the sudden lockdown at the onset of the Coronavirus disease. It affected manufacturing as the factories were forced to shut and impacted supply-chain.
To cope with the new conditions, all companies need to adopt business continuity plans in the form of work from home, transforming to digital-first operations, and implementing digital solutions. With social distancing norms and imposed travel restrictions, salesforce bore the maximum consequence of the crisis. Face-to-face sales were almost halted and remote/digital sales gained momentum and consequently, compelled the salesforce to acquire new skills.
We are here exploring the new sales skills that emerged during the crisis and will remain strong in the new world.
- Digital sales: As mentioned above, digital/remote sales started dominating during the crisis. The customers' visit to stores were limited and home delivery got impetus. Customer-facing salespersons need to pitch the product through social media, phone, email, SMS and other digital communication platforms. Digital advertisement now becomes a handy tool. It also impacted the sales staff of the FMCG companies. Apart from using digital tools for communication, sales professionals started to use digital sales tools to achieve the desired results. The tools include customer relationship management (CRM), sales and market intelligence, lead handling and processing, analytics and reporting, and sales automation and integration. Knowledge of the CRM, basics of digital marketing. The staff must have the right knowledge to fruitfully implement these tools in daily work and to get maximum output.
- Digital troubleshooting: Since a salesperson now deals with many digital platforms, he/she must know basic troubleshooting of the software and hardware of computers and other devices such as configuring printers, installing new software, setting up of web conferencing, sharing devices remotely, file transferring, cloud storage etc. It will help them to effectively increase productivity. Digital troubleshooting skill also helps the salesperson to solve issues faced by customers, especially selling on e-commerce sites.
- Data analysis: Data is the new oil. A normal sales staff produces several sets of data including leads, stock details, customers’ details, contact information, sales target and achievement, product description and many more. They also need to be aware of the market and economy and keep a track in order to take appropriate strategies from time-to-time. Data analytical skill is mandatory to arrange and prepare available data for future use. The basic skill of tabulation and visualization is necessary for every sales staff to present the details in a clean format and support sales objectives. This will also help the salesperson to target prospective customers and predict possible sales, especially in the age of digital sales and e-commerce. Data intelligence is becoming a core department at companies to use the data to drive the companies to grow.
- Collaboration: Sales is not restricted to just the sales team. The marketing department has to generate leads and share it with the sales team to convert as loyal customers. The business development team will support the sales team to expand the market and find specific needs. Data analytics team support with necessary data. Product development department helps the salespersons with new products and its descriptions, while the customer service team share the feedback, that will help the sales team to improve their effectiveness. These internal collaborations are necessary to develop a team play, especially when most of the functional teams are working remotely. External collaborations such as with clients, customers, retail stores, e-commerce marketplace and delivery agents are mandatory in order to streamline the supply chain and to ensure sustained growth.
- Continuous learning: In these volatile circumstances, professional development and career growth are very important for each professional. The sales profession is very dynamic and nature of sales is transforming based on the changes in customer behaviour. More tools are introduced to ease the process. In the case of FMCG, the market is expanding to rural segments and currently serving a diverse and scattered customer base. Therefore, sales professionals need to have a learning mind to update their skills and knowledge from time-to-time. They should exploit all possible opportunities to learn new things. Nowadays, organisations emphasize on upskilling and some are giving such opportunities in collaboration with leading professional training institutions. Employees with a positive attitude towards continuous learning grow and flourish in their career and remain relevant at all circumstances.
These are the top five emerging sales skills, that were necessitated by the pandemic crisis in the FMCG industry. The industry itself is evolving to adapt to the changing scenario. E-commerce penetration, growth in rural consumption, focus on cost control, and changing customer behaviour are driving the transformation. To cope with these changes, it is necessary for every organisation to upskill their salesforce with modern skils and prepare to address future opportunities and challenges.
Manipal ProLearn Sales Academy is an established institution in training sales professionals in the Consumer Goods industry. In collaboration with the Academy, companies can build a future-ready salesforce.