Yesterday’s National Account Managers were easy to recognise. They had a highly sociable and personality driven approach. Relationships were number one and deals were done. But those days are over and this approach is now consigned to history.
In the last 5 to 10 years relationships in FMCG have evolved and decisions are now driven by analytics – using a numerical and fact driven approach. But, you can’t rest there - from my conversations with Sales Directors things in Account Management are moving on again. In line with the change taking place in a lot of sectors, the next phase in the UK Grocery Market is all about being tailored and bespoke. Big data, analysis and Global/UK trends are still there but retail buyers and their teams expect NAMs to know more.
The Next Phase
The buzz words for the next phase are to be retailer and consumer centric and I’m seeing it already. The one size fits all, take it or leave it approach (they might leave it) is being replaced by a much more flexible strategy. Forward thinking FMCG companies are looking at everything from depth of product range, listings, pack sizes, pricing and promotions in a much more personalised way.
The landscape is so much more varied than before - High St, Discounters, Convenience, Online and Out of Home are all major channels and in growth which need to be considered. Grocery is still the lion’s share but consumers are now engaging in multiple shopping occasions and NAMs really need to understand everything they can about their behaviour.
This will help form the strategy they suggest to each retailer in terms of brands, variants/flavours, promotions and pack sizes, “special packs”, “retailer exclusives” and “tertiary retailer brands” all come into play to produce a complex offer for each situation.
Cutting it Now
So NAMs have got their work cut out to succeed in today’s landscape. They need to be more than just an intelligent, logical, highly numerate analyst who sit behind a desk looking at spreadsheets and pricing files.
They must invest time to understand their business, brands and capabilities - be outward facing, retailer and consumer focused. The best NAMs I see work internally to develop clear propositions for each customer which are both compelling and relevant – and then communicate and implement their plans.
So, if you want to win; Get out from behind your spreadsheets. Go and talk to your Insight and Marketing teams. Get into your factories, work with technical and production colleagues. Go into stores and create powerful commercial propositions for your customers. Otherwise you might end up as a NAM of yesteryear sooner than you had planned.