Should you fire your silent salesman for underperforming?

by | Oct 4, 2019 | Branding with impact

Should you fire your silent salesman?

Should you fire your silent salesman? This is a question that every senior manager should be asking themselves on a regular basis.

If you wouldn’t accept poor sales performance from a “salesperson” month after month, why do you accept it from your “silent salespeople“?

Packaging… The silent salesman/woman (Who should be fired!)

Packaging design has long been seen and even called the silent salesman (or woman). Yet when push comes to shove it’s really not treated like one.

In today’s marketplace, just like a high performing salesperson, a good package design must differentiate a product from the sea of competitors on the retail shelf.

It must also increase sales volume in flat market categories and provide the consumer with a positive experience.

Your packaging is the silent salesperson sitting next to the competition. As we know, your packaging must not only get busy consumers attention, but call out (in the nicest possible and effective way), ‘buy me’ as they pass by.

Why accept mediocre sales performance?

As business leaders we would never tolerate the sub par performance of a salesperson as much as we just accept the mediocre performance of our products on the retail shelf.

  • If you had a salesperson working for you that constantly delivered sub standard results would you get rid of them? Of course you would.
  • How long would you keep a salesperson whose only sales tactic to get the business was to discount  the product? Yet isn’t this what you constantly have to do to remain competitive on shelf?
  • Would you keep a sales person who wasn’t able to sell the value of your product and thereby achieve the margin you need to run your business successfully? Is your margin currently in decline?
  • Would you keep a salesperson who couldn’t perform regularly without being outsold by your competition? Private label is outselling your products on shelf every day (Unless you discount!)
  • How long before you got rid of an underperforming salesperson?

You are being handed your lunch on a regular basis because your product packaging is underselling itself.

If private label is eating your lunch…It’s time to fire your silent salesman

Private label is growing and keeps growing right under your nose with no seeming end in sight. And why not? Why shouldn’t they?

In many cases their products are top quality and more importantly, they look like top quality. They have massive shelf appeal.

They present well on shelf and today’s consumer isn’t fussed about whether or not it’s a “brand” or not.

That old chestnut has been flogged by marketers for way too long. 

It used to be that private-label would only increase in shelf space presence in a downward economy and typically flatline in a strong economy. This is definitely no longer true.

Private label products have been in growth mode and keep growing stronger every quarter and have done so for well over a decade. 

The educated consumer

Today’s consumer is well educated and sees the private label products as just as reliable in terms of quality as the national brands, only cheaper.

As a result of  falling packaging design and production costs retailers are easily able to make sure their private label brands and products are “indistinguishable”, and in many cases look superior, from the national brands.

Todays supermarkets have taken away the national brands secure “on-shelf” position by:

  • investing in significantly improved, J.I.T. cost effective packaging design and
  • rapid go to market programs

You can read more about how to compete against the private label market in my blog written a little over a year ago “How brands can combat private label products

Would you keep a salesperson who continued to have their lunch handed to them by your competition?

Surely you’d do whatever you need to do to find a salesperson who could sell and make you money even in a tough sales environment?

The bottom line is you have “silent salespeople” who are simply not delivering in the current market conditions.

If private label is eating your lunch quarter in and quarter out… then it’s time for you to fire your silent salesman!

Should you believe their sad tales of woe?

Poor performing salespeople are renown for having a battery of excuses for their lack of performance.

Speak to any seasoned Sales Manager and they’ll tell you they held onto poor performers for far too long.

They made excuses for them, constantly believing in their potential. In the end they were glad they finally bit the bullet and dumped them for someone better.

Your current silent salesperson on shelf is being easily outsold. Brand managers are akin to the sales manager believing in the excuses for performance.

Instead of biting down on the bullet and making the tough choices, you need to get rid of the poor performing salesperson and replace them with someone who is new and fresh and totally believes in what they are doing. 

This is no different to your packs on shelf.  If you are continuously under pressure to discount so you can get volume as you willingly sacrifice margin, then its time for a change.

If your products were in demand by the consumer how would that change your bargaining power with the retailers?

But they aren’t!

Even if your product is superior your product displayed on the shelf is not creating demand. It’s not being picked up.

Its not doing the job of the silent salesperson. If its not standing there and selling its pants off, then it’s time you fired your silent salesperson.

Now’s the time to pull your brand into the future

There is still time to turn this “on the shelf selling” thing around.

To do this you’ll need to dump your underperforming silent sales person and step into a brighter sales future.

If you want to stay one or two jumps ahead of your competition you have to “pull your brand into the future“.

You do it with a strategically well thought out brand evolution and packaging evolutionary plan.

There is no more time to buy into the excuses for failure and discounting your way to success.

There is plenty of evidence to say that a well thought out evolutionary  packaging design strategy can get you premium sales for the next 3 to 4 years.

You no longer have to rely on poor performing silent salespeople on the retail shelf. You no longer have to buy into their excuses. It’s time to fire them!

The costs of re-tooling and refreshing and re-evolving and inventing your current packs on shelf have come way down, almost half of what it was costing you a few years ago.

At what point do you bite the bullet and get rid of your poor performers who are no longer relevant in the current market environment.

  • When do you fire your silent salesman?
  • How much longer should you give them?
  • How much are they costing you to remain with the status quo?

Sure their is more competition than ever before. The truth is that in order for those competitors to remain competitive on shelf they have to be constantly flexible and willing to blow their competition away with effective on the shelf strategies.

Maybe it’s worthwhile having a chat. Maybe it’s worthwhile finding solutions that break free rather than simply settling for mediocre performance.

Is it time to fire your silent salesman? Contact us and lets see if we can help change your on-the-shelf fortunes.