Transforming — and Re-Transforming — Sales in a Technology-Enabled World

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Transforming — and Re-Transforming — Sales in a Technology-Enabled World

By Kurt Kaiser, AFS Technologies - 01/05/2018

A sponsored thought leadership companion to CGT's TPM Report 2017

You might not know it, but your company is a technology company. It doesn’t matter what you produce — companies in our industry are as dependent on technology as we are on the air that we breathe. We live in the technology age. As context, realize that people entering the workforce who were born in the mid-1990s have never known a world in which the internet did not exist. They are “digital natives.”

With that said, technology companies — all companies — occupy their own place on a continuum. Businesses are varied in size, have different priorities, and have various levels of resources. They use technology in diverse ways, for unique needs, and with different levels of detail, scrutiny, expectation, and investment.

No matter where you are on that continuum, digital transformation is the adoption of technology to modernize your enterprise and improve business productivity and performance.

The goal isn’t the same for everyone, and there isn’t a finish line; it’s more like completing stages in a video game: you finish one and move on to the next level. The bar will get higher as you evolve, as new capabilities are created, and as underlying technologies are improved.

Trade promotion, in a narrow sense, is the discounting and promotional tactics that attract shoppers to a product. We know, however, that it’s so much more. It is the yearlong, cross-functional planning, persuasion and execution process that delivers sales for your company. 

The quotient of trade promotion and digital transformation is profit. Money can be saved and profit can grow by working more efficiently and deploying the trade spend investment in smarter ways. Technology is the great enabler of both.

If you haven’t yet begun the transformation of your sales organization in earnest, here’s what will change when you do. It will be easier to get the information you are seeking.

Information will be more accurate and will flow faster. Data will have more depth. You will have a better understanding of winning and losing customers, products, and activities.

Used correctly, you will be able to improve prioritization and negotiate better deals. If you’ve already begun your journey, there are countless ways to increase your ability to persuade customers with even deeper analytical insights and predictions. And new enabling technology, like blockchain, is showing how disputes can be reduced or eliminated and the speed of business can improve (and costs can be reduced) with a definitive record of business transactions (just imagine a world without post-audits).

Finally, we all must navigate the new reality of the screen being the point-of-purchase. To get started or to take the next step, you need dedication to the cause. Commit your organization to a new mission that includes customer and employee experience in the technology-enabled world. Learn what they desire and how they behave. Identify the biggest opportunities and take action; small steps at first, but consistent activities that build momentum. When you decide to do something, set a budget and timeline, and hold the participants in the project accountable. Finally, continue to educate yourself.

Much has changed in just 20 years. Chances are, we haven’t seen anything yet.

AFS TPM Retail makes consumer goods sales, finance, and operations professionals more efficient and arms them with the insights they need to drive better financial outcomes. More than 20,000 users across 120-plus companies use AFS TPM Retail to manage all aspects of the trade planning process: objective setting, account planning, settlement & analysis.