As FMCG consultants in India we have come across several challenges in the last 10 years that enriched our understanding of FMCG sales and how to deliver quality FMCG consulting and FMCG sales training that is result oriented. In this article we will discuss some of our key learnings.
FMCG sales consultants in India mostly deliver ideas, processes or give access to a network that needs to be worked on and implemented. The most successful FMCG consulting projects are the ones that were meticulously implemented by the team. Our FMCG consulting approach often starts with a market diagnostic in which we visit the market, work with the sales team to understand the ground realities. Some teams are excited to have a consultant working with them, while some teams become suspicious about our intervention and the results follows accordingly. With this learning, whenever we take up a FMCG consulting project we insist our client to orient the managers and the team and get the required buy-in from them. Wider acceptance is preceded by better implementation.
The expectation of clients from the FMCG consultants in India is to get the best results. During our few initial FMCG consulting assignments, we tried to implement the best-in-class processes and systems to deliver the best results but unfortunately most of them failed. When we investigated the reasons for failure, we understood that the process and systems were far too sophisticated and complex for the present structure of the company. We understood that it is important to customize the solutions to the extent that it is appropriate for the type and size of the organization. A realistic approach is required while designing the solutions and planning the rollout. In one such example, a FMCG manufacturer wanted to implement sales team review structure. We designed the structure that includes almost everything that the management needs to know for a successful review. But to our surprise, the client was overwhelmed by the data that they need churn up for the review. Finally, we toned down the structure keeping in mind the current constraints of the company.
As FMCG consultants, we think it is better to impact one big gap area rather than trying to impact everything. During our initial days in FMCG consulting we tried to address all execution gaps that we came across during our diagnostic study. In most cases nothing worked. Then we learnt to focus on one major area that has the biggest impact on the results. In one such example, a FMCG manufacturer was constantly losing market share and wanted to diagnose the reason. The diagnostics pointed at several gaps like – target planning, in-store execution, SO and ASM working and several others. The list was too long but we focussed on only one area that we found could have a major impact on results – that was improving the weighted distribution of the company. For the next three months we focussed on SAMT (Stand Alone Modern Trade) channel, created the required processes and systems and helped the team place their product in all such stores. The result was phenomenal. Next, we focussed on the wholesale channel and improved the company’s presence there.
In some FMCG consulting assignments, we developed the processes and systems and delivered it to the leadership team for further rollout. But clients came back to us for the rollout. The client’s team is completely capable of handling the rollout but the client wanted standardized rollout. At times, the managers customize the deliverables to suit his/her team as a result the full impact is lost. With this learning, we advise the clients to go for a standardized rollout to ensure desired results are met. In one such example, we rolled out a coaching tool for the ASMs in a FMCG company. Though the client was happy with the training but the desired results were still not coming. It seemed that the ASMs were not using the coaching tool appropriately. That is when the client asked us to do On The Job Training (OJT) for the ASMs. Our consultants went to the market, worked with the ASMs and coached him/her on how to use the tool effectively. After a month of doing this exercise, we found that the ASMs were using it regularly and within two months we got some encouraging results.
Most of the FMCG companies’ approach FMCG consultants when their sales are declining. We understand that we should approach the problem only when it comes to us but this reactive step often delays the growth and competition might take advantage of the situation. It also impacts the team negatively and sometime leads to disintegration of the team. To avoid such situation, we advise FMCG companies to conduct a sales process audit at regular intervals. Every small gap that might become big tomorrow can be identified at an early stage and addressed suitably leading to quick recovery. This reduces, not only the cost of consulting but also the loss in sale which is a big reason of concern.