How CPG Marketers & Sales Managers Can Conquer Their Fear of Data

Bedrock Analytics

by Bedrock Analytics

February 13, 2019

Before Will Salcido was CEO of Bedrock Analytics, he got his start in the CPG industry as a category manager and analyst.

He oversaw category analytics (pricing, promotion and merchandising) strategies for product categories at CPG dynasties like Nestle, Novartis, Ghirardelli and Lindt. He learned firsthand what it takes to gain and maintain traction with retail giants like Safeway, Target, Walmart, Costco, Whole Foods and others. After 10 years in the industry, he’d affected positive change at nearly every level of the business including trade and consumer promotions, product development, shopper marketing, and more.

During his tenure at Ghirardelli Chocolate Company, many people in the sales team were either uncomfortable with Nielsen data or were downright adverse to it. While Will was well versed in the arcane details of relational database schema, query syntax, and data-driven modeling, the sales team simply needed the insights from the data, so they came to rely on Will’s expertise in gleaning meaningful insights in the form of selling decks. Knowing that the industry was moving closer and closer to a data-driven future, Will decided to do something about it.

“I put together a simple analytics dashboard that let sales people automatically calculate and visualize retail data for our various categories,” explains Will. “I brought the dashboard to the sales team and was able to go over the basics in about 15 minutes. Once they understood it, the change was incredible. It was like a light had been switched on, and suddenly our whole team became that much more effective. We started capturing shelf space faster than ever before, and won category captaincies at Target and Meijer.”

“I was on the ground floor of the original platform Will created,” Andrew King, one of Will’s fellow sales associates at Ghirardelli recalled. “We went from pulling together disconnected data points before a sales call to simply clicking on customers’ data to auto-populate presentation slides. Our whole sales team began using this tool. It really brought the story for our brand together.

“With this tool, I was able to become a category expert and thought leader, knowledgeable not just about our company but competing companies. Will’s tool made it a lot easier to get the sale.”

The story of Will and the Ghirardelli sales reps is a familiar one. The vast majority of sales professionals trained 20+ years ago didn’t deal with analytics in their day-to-day work. Key strategic decisions were made using either anecdotal data, or simple calculations with little room for nuance. Today, the CPG industry is fueled by massive amounts of the most granular data imaginable. This can unfortunately be an obstacle to growth, even for more analytical CPG sales and marketing professionals.

“When you hire a salesperson, you hire them because they’re good at selling,” explains Robert Esquivel, Bedrock’s Senior Manager of Customer Success. “They have character, and charisma, and smarts, but this person is very rarely good with data. The CPG industry is increasingly asking these roles to be one and the same. It’s counting on sales people to utilize raw data, and that’s not necessarily something they were trained to do.”

We often see major companies with seemingly limitless resources, expertise, and budgets corner the CPG analytics market, leaving smaller businesses struggling to compete. Many of our clients once worked at large organizations like Procter and Gamble, where analyst teams were available to compile and deliver detailed reports in support of sales and marketing efforts. When these sales leaders move to a smaller startup that doesn’t have the same resources, they struggle to learn analytical skills that were traditionally handled by specialized departments.

“They have to represent and understand the data without anyone explaining it to them,” Robert says. “And that can be a pretty scary thing.”

At Bedrock, we know data doesn’t have to be frightening. We help CPG organizations come to grips with modern data management technologies by streamlining the aggregation, visualization, and analysis processes. We often find that once marketers and sales managers get their hands on our product, they’re suddenly unsure of what they were so afraid of in the first place.

For all the worries and hand-wringing over charts and tables, all CPG companies are typically working from the same core syndicated data set from organizations like Nielsen, IRI and SPINS. The challenge isn’t obtaining data, but utilizing it in the most effective ways.

We’ve made it our mission to level the playing field with tools that generate insights and selling stories using your data. These insights can fill the gap between your sales objectives and retailers’ needs, allowing you to be sharper and more nimble, enabling you to take on your competitors and win.

Our task is simple: to guide our clients from a fear of data to analytical confidence, just like how Will saw the Ghirardelli sales reps’ fears evaporate years before.

“It’s one of the great joys in life, and thankfully my primary responsibility, to take those people from a place of fear and disdain of data, to absolute confidence and success,” Will says.