In a decade where cloud CRM has become a common and obvious tool for managing sales in businesses across industries, Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) sales, ordering, and fulfillment are still dependent on legacy paper and ad-hoc tools.
Why are CPG sales reps required to work with rudimentary tools, which lack immediacy, visibility, and mobility, leading to lost revenues, massive inefficiencies in pricing and fulfillment, limited product availability and excess inventory?
The answer is rooted in the business problems that traditional CRM systems – from the on-premise legacies such as Siebel, to today's SaaS solutions, such as Salesforce -- were built to solve. These CRM systems do not address the main business problems that CPG sales face. While getting a grip on the sales forecast in businesses with complex sales cycles and gaining a 360-degree view of the customer interactions is important in most industries, these issues are prioritized much lower in CPG sales.
The traditional, horizontal CRMs were not designed to address three core requirements of CPG sales processes:
1. Mobile authenticity is a must: Transactional sales cycles are initiated, manipulated and completed together with the customer in the field. A sales automation solution must therefore be designed to optimize the experience of both the sales rep as well as the customer. While for many industries mobility is a valuable enhancement that provides greater flexibility, for CPG, Mobile-First is a must have; it cannot be compromised by retrofitting desktop systems designed 20 or 30 years ago.
2. Product and Accounting information are integral to the sales process: while CRM is a great tool for providing a full view of the customer interactions, it lacks the product and accounting depth required to automate and optimize the transactional sale. CPG sales require smart, interactive product catalogs and sales accelerators that dynamically present relevant products based on industry and business rules, provide product specifications, product availability, pricing and sophisticated special pricing options, prior purchases and their status, customer product preferences, multi-media collateral, and more. Furthermore, CPG's transactional sales makes pipeline management and forecasting a moot point.
3. Multi-channel sales: The internet has added an additional dimension to the complexity of CPG sales. While sales reps used to be the only sales interface for customers to deal with the company, the internet has introduced an array of opportunities for CPG brands and wholesalers to expand their reach to new customers. They can now add new sales channels such as marketplaces, augment their B2B channels with B2C, and provide existing customers with the option to be self-served, thereby reducing their cost of sales and improving customer experience. This, however, has created a new set of requirements to CPG sales and marketing management. They now need a central management tool to control and ensure consistency in pricing, messaging, and brand image across all sales channels.