Brands: The Importance of Managing Your Retail Leads

You’ve done the hard work of getting your innovative idea off the ground and into reality. Now it’s time to sell it.

That shouldn’t be too hard, right? After all, you’ve done your research, so you know there is a need for your product, and a consumer base that would be happy to hand over their hard-earned money for your product. You know what they want the product to look like, or feel like, or taste like.

However, as a smart supplier, you know that it’s not just the end consumer you are pitching your product to — it’s also the retailers who will stock your product on their shelves. And while retailers are always on the hunt for new and innovative products that will draw in consumers, breaking through the noise from thousands of other suppliers can be a challenge. But it’s not an impossible challenge — if it was, no one would ever sell anything — and knowing how to both construct a pipeline for leads, as well as track and manage those leads, can aid you in getting your foot in the door with retailers, and ultimately in the hands of consumers.

Setting the sales stage

First things first: trying to pursue success in CPG without developing a strong sales strategy is about as effective as trying to fly a kite on a completely still day. In other words, you’ll get absolutely nowhere. Determining that sales strategy is the first building block in developing leads, and to do so you need to ensure that you are communicating your message and your product well, that you understand your target, and that your marketing toolbox — like your social media channels, your digital sell sheet, or your creative content — is in order.

Once a sales strategy is set, sales pipeline development can begin. What’s a sales pipeline, you ask? Good question. In short, it’s a step-by-step structure for your sales leads, and each stage gets that lead closer to being a new customer. It also can measure the value of each lead, depending on the stage they are in. (What it is not is a sales funnel, though the two are often confused. The sales funnel differs in that it looks at the conversion rates of prospects during the different pipeline stages.)

The common denominator that keeps the sales strategy humming, and the pipeline flowing, of course, are those sales leads. The meetings you have at trade shows with buyers — leads. The emails you send to retailers that get responses — leads. The samples you send off to interested parties — leads. But in recent months, as much of the business of CPG has shifted to online, suppliers have had to rethink how they uncover new, potential leads. In the past, a lot of that discovery took place at trade shows. With the cancellation of shows due to COVID-19, however, retail buyers are going digital in their new product discovery. If suppliers want to make and create relevant buyer engagements (ie, leads), they need to make the switch to incorporate digital selling as well.

And as the shift to digital discovery continues, it’s important for suppliers to track where those leads have bubbled up from, so they know which of their strategies to attract new clients worked, and which might need some work. Brands that are able to organize their leads in one centralized, accessible place, easily manage lead activity like buyer contacts, retailer notes, and lead status, will have a leg up over their competition. After all, having leads organized and easily accessible allows a supplier to see which of their practices are working, and where there are opportunities to engage with buyer contacts.

Being able to better track leads means better, more efficient management of a retail sales pipeline — using the needed tools to effectively engage with retail buyers, following up appropriately, responding to queries buyers may have, and ultimately giving the potential client the attention they’re looking for that will make them want to work with you.

Brands that track, lead

In today’s ever-changing CPG environment, tracking and managing leads isn’t just a nice thing to do, it’s essential if you want to be successful. And when it comes down to it, brands that track and manage their leads, well, lead. Why? A few reasons:

  1. Using tools that help brands track and manage leads shows you understand how to create and effectively use an efficient sales pipeline for retail leads.
  2. Centralizing lead information in a single place enables you and your team easy accessibility to follow through on lead queries and requests.
  3. Managing and tracking leads using real-time tools and best practice resources helps suppliers effectively engage with buyers on and off digital platforms. 

In the CPG industry, a supplier is nothing without sales. After all, if you’re not selling product, how are you keeping your company afloat? A strong sales strategy is critical to success, and part of that means gaining and managing new leads to ensure you’re always moving forward to meet the targets you’ve set. And as much of CPG shifts to online these days, digital platforms are at the forefront of helping achieve new sales heights for suppliers.

Brandon is vice president of marketing and growth for RangeMe, the online sourcing platform that streamlines new product discovery between suppliers and retailers. Seventy percent of the top 100 retailers in the U.S., and thousands of independent retailers, use RangeMe as an efficient way to discover innovative new products and manage the inbound product submission process.