How to Avoid Getting Lost in Digital Translation
Over the past 18 months, supply chains have been drastically altered. And the business of sales looks different today. Innovative companies are looking ahead and adapting to the current industry dynamics.
For a business built on relationships and sales of physical products, Kelly Brand Management (KBM) assessed market needs and came up with a solution. Their answer:
A state-of-the-art product showroom that gets products in front of the right buyers, in real-time.
Below is a Q&A with KBM, vice president of sales, Josh Dutton.
What does your world in sales look like right now?
Convoluted! Retail buyers are stretched thin and are working without many of their resources due to COVID-19 restrictions. All the while, sales within many categories are at record levels. The challenge for many sales professionals is getting and keeping a buyer’s attention – whether that’s tracking down forecasts or presenting new items. It’s difficult! Add in the barrier of virtual meetings and it can feel almost impossible to advance new brands or grow brands that are not top-of-mind for a buyer.
What’s the biggest change in your world today from pre-pandemic?
Virtual meetings and limited points of contact. Before COVID, we’d have several opportunities to connect with buyers: Line Reviews, trade shows, fundraising events or just general in-person, touch-base meetings. Now, most sales professionals are limited to emails, texts, phone calls and Zoom-style meetings.
What is the biggest challenge you are seeing on the retailer side?
On the retail side, inventory – from independent dealers to major retailers. It was a struggle for many retailers to keep inventory on the shelves. Early indications are that 2021 could see more of the same. Categories like Camping, RV, Hunting and Fishing saw growth rates exceeding 15% YOY and some categories like Camping and RV saw POS growth of over 30%! That kind of growth is hard for manufacturers to forecast and keep up with!
What’s the biggest challenge client side?
On the client side, it’s inventory/forecasts and for new brands it’s just getting noticed! Established manufacturers are trying to get their arms around the demand needs for 2021. Many of the factors remain from 2020, but as COVID restrictions are lifted and the country opens up this summer or fall, will the demand still be there? For new brands, many buyers are so focused on keeping the peg full and making sure their stores are stocked, it’s hard for many of them to make time to review new brands or new items unless it helps them fill an immediate need.
What’s one of the greatest benefits you’ve seen for your clients because of the showroom?
Exposure! We often pre-determine what a buyer is looking for to save time in a short meeting. This year, we’ve had several buyers ask “what’s that” or “I didn’t know they had those”. It’s allowed us to gain additional placement for established brands and opened the door for new brands that the buyer probably wouldn’t have given time to in a traditional virtual meeting setting.
According to one of KBM’s clients…
“KBM merchandised our products in their showroom, and within a matter of weeks, had customers in their offices asking about our product line because of how well it was showcased. I am sure that without the set-up of our products, this never would have happened.” Jared Kimmel, Rumpf
What types of sales meetings have been fast-tracked utilizing the showroom?
The showroom was very helpful for the virtual buy-group shows. If a buyer had a question on any one given brand, we could join the video feed from Covington and show them the item in question or how it’s merchandised.
What are successful brands doing today?
Communicating and finding ways to connect with customers and buyers. With all the inventory issues out there, it’s more important now than ever to communicate with retailers on the flow of goods. Successful manufacturers are keeping retailers up to speed on in-stock dates and how orders are filling. Furthermore, with the limited touch points this past year, it’s even more important that manufacturers have a robust social media strategy and have a good e-commerce game plan in place. Websites and social media platforms are not only good selling tools, but also very effective ways to gain brand awareness and establish equity with buyers and decision makers at B&M retail.
Gaining a sales advantage
If your brand needs a sales advantage in today’s continually evolving marketplace, KBM’s new product showroom may be a great fit.
Kelly Brand Management offers comprehensive supply chain solutions from sales channel targeting and customer development, to brand management and product development to comprehensive long-term management strategies, for growth and incremental value to business.