Sales Capabilities of The Future

Segment Focus 2 of 4

Embracing Evolving Talent Must-Haves

May 15, 2024

Thought Logic’s Sales Capabilities of the Future report is an annual analysis of the current marketing landscape based on in-depth interviews with leaders in the Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) industry. In it, we uncover transformative trends that impact market forces on leaders and organizations.

The full report, available here, uncovers four priority sales capabilities crucial for organizations to develop for success in the future. Over the coming weeks, we will continue providing a short brief on each of those priority areas, which is expanded upon in the report.

The second of the four priorities is Talent Must-Haves, a foundational step in aligning team skills and competencies to meet the ongoing shifts in retail and manufacturing.

Developing Advanced Talent Competencies

Placing Sales leaders with the right balance of soft and hard skills is critical for success to meet the changing priorities of different market sectors. To begin with, relationship selling alone is no longer sufficient; manufacturers seek leaders with a blend of qualities including curiosity, humility, agility, and analytic capability, alongside a strong desire to learn. However, recruiting individuals possessing this mix of interpersonal and analytical skills presents a considerable challenge.

As a result, manufacturers are prioritizing training to develop their toughest-to-recruit competencies, including cultivating a General Manager Mindset to elevate financial literacy and awareness of critical impacts to the P&L. Additionally, manufacturers are focusing on Retail Media spend, looking to structure investments that align with brand objectives while navigating challenging funding conversations with their retail partners. Honing Storytelling skills to craft audience-focused content has also gained importance, to achieve specific objectives. This enhanced mix of skills, once a ‘nice-to-have’ part of a CV, is quickly becoming a necessity.

What Is Driving Changes in Team Capabilities?

As supply chain constraints ease, the focus is shifting back to operational discipline in the retail sector. While the priority during and immediately after the COVID-19 pandemic was on production capacity and delivery, retailers and manufacturers are now redirecting their attention towards rebuilding baseline capabilities to drive growth, such as ensuring in-stocks, optimizing displays, improving forecast accuracy, and managing assortments effectively. Both parties will need to navigate fluctuating consumer demand and experiment with pricing strategies, recognizing the limited usefulness of sales trends from the past two years.

Additionally, retailers are facing pressure to expand margins amidst challenges in assortment management. The consequences of innovation mistakes, such as insufficient space for core SKUs, highlight the importance of strategic decision-making. Innovation alone is no longer recognized as an endless source of profit and growth, prompting retailers to adopt stricter delisting criteria and to prioritize proving incrementally. Line reviews are gaining importance, underscoring the need for meticulous preparation and achieving alignment to optimize assortment strategies.

In the future, sales becoming more data-driven will require bringing insights to life in order to guide strategic decisions and next best actions for maximizing revenue performance.

– Gartner

Analytical and Critical Thinking Skills to Leverage Data

Technology is rapidly advancing to decipher the growing volumes of data available to sales leaders. However, superior insight development skills are now more crucial than ever for effectively leveraging these analyses. Additionally, proficiency in strategy development and influencing skills is critical for implementing collaborative solutions with retailers.

Moreover, ‘critical thinking’ skills have emerged as indispensable in the sales landscape, enabling the creation of value through joint solution development with retailers. These skills are challenging to cultivate through training alone and are increasingly becoming a criterion for talent recruitment in manufacturers, particularly from functions emphasizing analytical problem-solving and insight-led strategies like category development.

Sales Capabilities of the Future

Part 1: Technology Fueled Insights

Sales Capabilities of the Future

Part 2: Talent Must-Haves

Sales Capabilities of the Future

Part 3: Retail Media Joint Wins

Register for our upcoming Webinar on June 5: Click here

Read the full Sales Capabilities of the Future report: Click here.

The report includes an expanded look at the changing impact and needs of tomorrow’s talent, as well as other priority sales capabilities, such as Technology-Fueled Insights, Retail Media Join Wins, and Strategic Partnerships.

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