You only have to glance at phone company app stores to realize there are hundreds of To-Do and Task Organizer apps to choose from. Why? Because people know in their hearts that if they want to successfully conclude a project, they need a plan. The same thinking applies to writing a business roadmap for success in the CPG industry.
But it’s surprising how many businesses, from startups to larger enterprises, have no specific, organized strategy in place to ensure they make money as planned.
This is somewhat illogical when you consider
- a disorganized approach to selling means fewer sales and less income, and
- how necessary and saleable consumer packaged goods are in the current marketplace.
What is CPG as an Industry and Why Does it Need a Business Roadmap?
In this article, we’re including the usual consumer packaged goods definition (everything you sell that’s in packages and people regularly purchase, from dog food to chocolates), but also the subsection of fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) that fly off shelves quickly and cost relatively little (e.g., milk, beer, toilet paper etc.).
But why a business roadmap? Because a road leads to a definite place. In this case, your success in the CPG industry.
To build this roadmap effectively, you need to include some basics for your CPG business. So we’ll look in turn at the need to have
- a sales strategy to build up your marketing and sales to the next level
- an official sales process that you’ve planned, documented, and implemented
- the right people, training, and leadership in place
- mutual partnerships in a network.
Let’s deep dive.
1 Start With a SALES STRATEGY to Build Your Next-Level Sales
Your strategy will need to include regular consideration and revision of a range of issues such as your product range, methods of marketing appropriate to your target consumers, and your delivery methods in the current climate. (We’ll deal with the actual sales process in the next section.)
Examples of each of these, in turn, might include:
>Reviewing your product range and pricing according to market economics and needs.
This is an essential part of reviewing your overall business financial goals. Some of your products can be re-tuned and re-offered in a different form as the market changes. Pricing can be lowered to penetrate a new market, or raised if you increase perceived value.
However, the worst strategy here is to NOT consider what changes might be necessary. That’s not a strategy!
>Reviewing and expanding your marketing channels as necessary to increase sales.
In addition to going as omnichannel as is appropriate for your CGP business, you can
- move into new regions,
- target new countries,
- find a new use for your products,
- enter a niche market by adapting a product,
- advertise regularly based on a marketing calendar you draw up that makes sense in your situation, and
- perhaps add in video promotions in social media, and chatbots etc.
Moreover, there’s such an effective, wide choice of marketing channels available today that NOT having a planned channel management strategy is simply gathering a team and hoping they’ll play well. It’s an own goal.
>Considering how logistics can play a part in leveraging better sales.
Part of your business roadmap strategy to build up next-level sales includes planning how you’ll meet customer expectations: timely, trackable, and reliable deliveries.
You could, for example, employ the strategy of using multiple carriers for shipments instead of just one. The point is to look at what you already do and document a strategy that will work better in the future.
Other Factors Within this “Starting Strategy” for Building a Business Roadmap
In addition to reviewing your product, marketing, and delivery, you may want to consider both the IT/data setup in your business and the possibility of using a consignment inventory system where appropriate.
You need to consider introducing (if you haven’t already) a capable IT setup that will link all your sales, marketing, and operations, and produce data. Relevant data are gold.
However, having done this, remember that IT is only a means to an end – that of raising your sales growth to new levels. Its real value lies in how you use the data to adapt your business roadmap!
While expanding into a new market or sector, it’s possible to plan into your roadmap an experiment with consigning inventory. That means goods will only be paid for when they’re sold. There are risks (non-sells, damage etc.) but consignment in the CPG industry has the benefit of trying out a market before taking it on fully. This might apply to CPG items that are unjustly considered upmarket and for which you want to experiment elsewhere on a small scale.
Above all, the strategy you start off with as you revise your roadmap is about having a system in place that supports the constant evolution and adaptation of your business. Nothing else works these days!
2 Clarify Your Sales PROCESS From Plan to Implementation
This is about selling your CPG inventory. Obviously, some of this will link back to what we’ve said above, but your business roadmap must have at its core your sales playbook.
What is a Sales Playbook?
A sales playbook sets out the process your reps will use to sell your products.
It should therefore document every phase of the buyer’s journey from prospect to close of sale – what needs to be said or done, and how. It goes from the planning stage to implementing it, including example sales scenarios.
Your sales playbook needs to be clear, understandable, and adopted by all your sales reps.
According to one study, 50% of high-performing sales teams use a structured approach to selling.
The reason a sales playbook works well is not only due to showing the reps how to sell. It’s also because the data they then put into your CRM is more accurate and reliable, based on similar sales methods.
And this, in turn, means your sales forecasting will improve. In this way, you avoid wasteful expenditure. All part of the overall business roadmap.
In addition, if you use AI to analyze your data, you gain another benefit from your playbook. AI can trawl through vast amounts of apparently unconnected data and spot patterns no rep would ever spot. Your analyst can then infer from that whatever your reps need to act on.
However, in today’s marketplace, some of the buyer’s journey has already been completed. The reason is, your customers may have researched online and be ready to buy a specific brand before any of your marketing messages reach them. Your reps need to factor this in when referencing your sales playbook and dealing with a prospect.
You will also need to introduce sales training programs at regular intervals to ensure
- all new talent is familiar with the playbook and
- established reps learn to adapt to new scenarios.
For instance, if the reps are approaching a new outlet for your products, a key part in the playbook will show them how to arm themselves with answers to any questions that might arise in this new outlet.
Which brings us nicely to our third point. People.
3 Introduce the Right PEOPLE – New Talent, Training, and Leadership Skills
Having the right people at the table – whether in the C-suite or the various marketing, ops, and sales teams – is crucial today. Part of your roadmap is therefore to establish
- job descriptions
- recruitment strategies
- applications processes
- sideways moves to enable leadership to develop.
Because the CPG industry is fast moving, an agile approach often means allowing day-to-day decisions to be made by your teams. In other words, your company needs high-performing teams who can be trusted to solve problems while adhering to overall business goals.
This is in direct contrast to a hierarchical approach to business. But decisions can be made faster, and your company’s talent will be encouraged to stay on, as they feel involved and committed.
You can’t leave this to chance, though. So, consider having an entirely assessment-based approach to hiring. One such method is PI, but there are others. This assessment/analytical method of employing talent removes the bias of “looks, experience, and education” and introduces the opportunity to make sure team members relate well and have the skills you need.
In addition, you’ll be able to identify new types of skills you need today:
- A flux mindset – seeing constant change as an opportunity to be grasped.
- Management skills for the complexity and paradoxes of today’s new marketing climate.
However, the top skill wanted in a 2021 report from 500+ executives was “the ability to prepare for multiple scenarios,” because they believe this affects business outcomes.
In summary, and given the costs associated with mis-hiring, it’s crucial your business roadmap into the future looks after talent optimization, taking into account all these factors.
4 Take on Board the Idea of PARTNERSHIP and Cross-Functional Collaboration
More than ever today, no single business can hope to have every necessary resource in-house.
As a result, you’ll need to include in your business roadmap some partnerships or collaborations. These enable your sales to rise to new levels. And yes, choose carefully, so there will be trust and mutual benefit on both sides. But to succeed in selling, and therefore revenue, you may need to take that step.
In addition, remember how successfully some of your own talent pool worked from home during the pandemic! It brings into focus how your talent doesn’t have to be all within your company! They could live anywhere if they’re the right person or firm to partner with.
But what about trust?
Well, you’ve probably already entrusted your network security and storage to an external cloud provider. So why not add some other areas of trust into your business roadmap by
- sharing deliveries with similar partners in your ecosystem to the benefit of all
- accessing some external sales training, leadership, or outsourced sales reps you need in the short term
- partnering with an expert data analyst from outside your business
- working on a sales venture with another business by gathering together a joint, melded team for the project?
This is becoming more usual as a valid business practice. It’s well worth investigating. Apparently 24% of companies expect increasingly to use expert service providers, either embedded in the company or on loan for a period.
Another common use of partnerships now is to have a cross-functional team made up of parts of very different teams (e.g. sales, HR, IT) to complete a specific project.
The benefits of this kind of partnership and collaboration include
- accessing a different perspective
- using someone with a track record you don’t yet have on board
- finding someone grounded in the expertise you wish to train your team in
- receiving input from someone with more industry experience at a crucial time.
Your business today may succeed or fail in pushing up your sales levels according to your willingness to be open to collaborative approaches with a range of partners.
Would You Like to Gain Some Momentum in Your Business Roadmap?
At Momentum CPG, we have 120+ years of CPG industry sales and marketing leadership between us. We can use our expertise in Strategy, Process, People, and Partnership to help you push your CPG sales and your brand up to the next level. Call us today for a free consultation.