I want to share some of the tough lessons we learned since we engaged in B2B software sales for the CPG industry. Our hope is that this post will either help you save time and frustration or give you clarity and confidence to move forward as you embark on a shopper marketing automation journey.
You may be asking yourself: Is now the right time? Can I pull it off? Will my team embrace the change? Do I build in-house or seek an off-the-shelf solution? Answers to these questions depend on whether you identify with any of the reasons in this post.
We started selling Shopperations about two years ago and had many conversations with prospective client companies and individual decision makers or influencers. The calls almost never ended with the prospective client telling us that the software was not for them.
Some call outcomes felt promising enough to continue pursuing the lead, although our follow ups resulted in little progress for months. We ended up wasting prospect clients’ time and frustrating ourselves.
These frustrating experiences of chasing dead ends, combined with the successful sales outcomes taught us an important lesson: Shopperations is not for everyone. Today, we have enough data points and know how to ask the right questions to see early on whether we have a true opportunity to make a difference and create a meaningful partnership. Here are some signs that you are a great fit for what Shopperations offers:
- Your brand portfolio is large and growing: Not only your team is already in charge of a dozen or so brands, you company seems to be on a mergers & acquisitions spree. This means your scope of responsibilities is increasing; your team and your budgets may be growing too. You may be going through one of those “integration” processes trying to bring distinct cultures, processes, and systems together.
- Your funding mechanism is complex: Your overall budget size looks decent on the surface, but when you look deeper, it’s a complex web of funding streams. A brand-specific budget, a new product support budget, a scale program budget, an ad-hoc competitor pre-emption budget, a CMO’s pet project budget, slotting or trade fees converted into shopper marketing…. Multiply that by the number of brands and you have a “budget octopus” that your team wrestles with on a daily basis.
- Your shopper team is geographically dispersed: Some of your team members know their colleagues only by voice because they never meet in person, rather on conference calls. Maybe, they will meet next year at a national sales meeting, but it’s a big maybe. It’s hard for them to share best practices or even speak the same language. Other than sharing the same job titles, you team seem to have little in common, and they can better relate to their local sales teams.
- You heavily rely on your agency to run field operations: Your lean organization mandated tight control of the shopper marketing headcount, therefore you took a step to outsource your field shopper marketing operations to an agency. They now own relationships with your sales teams, build customer-specific programs, and are accountable for your budget oversight. “Did I relinquish too much control?” is a frequent worry.
- Excel no longer does it for you: You find yourself scrubbing spreadsheets at 2am more and more often. Your massive budget files crash and cause you to lose hours of work. Your team sends you at least 10 versions of the monthly budget forecast that you have to reconcile and re-package for internal stakeholder meetings. The “supertracker” file you use was built by someone you never met, and even though the file structure is not really working for you, you won’t touch it because the macros or the formulas will break and render the whole file useless.
- You are immune to “not built here” syndrome: Because your company is lean, it doesn’t have a bloated IT or marketing services infrastructure, so you and your team carry all the administrative burden yourselves. When you seek solutions to your pain points, you realize that if the problem you are trying to solve is not unique, and an industry solution is available, building custom software in-house is a distraction you can’t afford. Instead, you focus on your core competencies and do what you do best: partner with retail customers and convert consumers into shoppers and shoppers into buyers.
- Your team or your company is at a crossroads: If your company has new leadership, you were recently promoted or just started working for a new company, you have roughly 90 days to show early wins, set a new direction and shake the status quo. You seek clarity and want to make your mark, so you are looking around to discover new capabilities, best practices, and latest industry research.
- You are a marketing data geek: While you enjoy strategy and big picture aspects of your marketing job, you crave data to inspire you and help you make decisions. You are fascinated by various analytical methods and tools. You want to be buttoned up and “know your numbers”, and expect your team to be financially literate and manage their budgets responsibly. In other words, you have a well balanced left and right brain.
If three or more of the points above apply to you, you should definitely consider our shopper marketing automation solution.
Shopperations is not for everyone, and that’s fine. We want to work with clients who have a lot to gain by using our solution. Our current clients would tell you we’ve made a huge impact, and we’d like to do the same for you.