Since the repeal of prohibition, suppliers have been conducting retail and on-premise surveys to gather information about their brands and competitors in the market. This market intelligence has been gathered, analyzed and presented in various ways, evolving over time as technology has become more accessible. Back in 1999, I was gathering survey data by hand on a printed form for Moet Hennessy’s off-premise holiday survey in NY. I did the same manual process for a Diageo California grocery chain survey in 2004. It was tedious (I’m embarrassed to say that a fax was involved), but there was no other option. Now that mobile devices are ubiquitous, there are much better ways to capture information in the field.
However, a fundamental problem still exists. If you are surveying just to gather “real time” information, you are missing a vital opportunity and really just adding to the lagging analysis of what accounts look like at a point in time. This backward looking data is nice to know, and may even make you feel like you have a handle on the business. Nevertheless, it’s useless in driving your execution at retail and increasing sales without a “real time” management solution linked to the survey. Sure, you get some execution in the field simply because planning a survey (with fair warning) spurs distributors to hustle around and execute in advance of the scheduled survey, ensuring they “look good” for their suppliers. However, unless you leverage a tool to facilitate sales reps’ real time execution at retail and scorecard continuous improvement at the account level, you’re merely counting what’s already been done. There is a better way. Survey to Sell!
Most survey methods and tools currently deployed by suppliers and distributors do not drive execution at retail. They only measure execution at retail. Nor do they provide a platform for activity management facilitating constant improvement in each account throughout the survey period and beyond. The tools do not drive a methodology or process for leading the rep through a series of activities designed to achieve the best execution possible in each account. They do not help the rep close the gaps on perfection.
Tools that just gather information yield simply that. Flat data. Sure you can analyze it on the back-end and derive some insights about the business. But that isn’t driving improved execution in the account in time to make the difference.
In order to truly execute with excellence, reps need to be given the specific execution assignments for each account based on segmentation. They need to work to achieve those executional assignments – over time – with every visit. And they need a tool to help the do it.
The best methodology for executing at retail isn’t just to survey, but to use the survey to sell more and better. This includes:
- Determining specific strategic drivers you want executed.
- Planning /setting execution expectations and smart goals for each key account segment for your business.
- Incentivizing and rewarding. Making it clear to reps how their comp can change based on meeting these clearly defined strategic objectives.
- Executing. Visiting accounts and sell the sales drivers (displays, menus, handles, cold boxes, etc).
- Setting new objectives and tasks to close the gaps in each account and schedule follow up visits.
- Executing more.
- Measuring again.
And so on.
Don’t just capture information. Set expectations. Reward the right behaviors. Harness information and use it to drive your real-time execution while in the account. That is how you sell more, better.