3 Steps to Fact-Based Presentations

Our industry has changed the way that supplier sales teams go to market – or at least it should have changed! Gone are the days where sales teams rely solely on the relationship they’ve built with their retail customer — a major shift driven by:

  • changing customers and economy,
  • less opportunity to see our retailers face to face,
  • the demand from retailers for value-based category solutions, and
  • the advancements of retailers from both a data and technology perspective.

Over the past few years, I have had the privilege of personally training many sales organizations on how to improve their fact-based presentations approach and have documented three steps here, including barriers, analyzing data, and building the presentation.

What’s the biggest barrier to becoming a fact-based sales organization?

I often hear that it’s the sales team’s unwillingness to change their approach – they’re older, super busy hitting quotas, and stuck in their ways, etc. After all, you provide them with data, maybe even give them access to a few data sources, train them on how to pull data, and then load them up with shopper insights – but they still don’t use one or more of the above!

INSIGHT: It may be your internal approach and lack of internal alignment that is the biggest barrier to moving to a more strategic, fact-based selling approach.

There are two key skills that sales needs to move to a more strategic, fact-based approach:

  1. Understand and analyze data in ways that identify category growth opportunities for the retailer — difficult to do without access to the data and/or the training to draw insights from each data source.
  2. Create compelling, fact-based presentations that tell the story to their retailer — nearly impossible unless your sales people are knowledgeable about both their retailer’s categories and Shoppers.


How to Analyze Data to Identify Growth Opportunities

Sales people need to be data savvy, understanding the key data sources available and what they can derive from them, and identifying growth opportunities in their business and their Retailer’s categories. No longer can they rely on their category development team to pull data and put together category reviews for them.

Most presentations today continue to talk conceptually about the Shopper, but have limited or no data as it relates to the retailer and their Shopper – even though many organizations purchase and have that data available.

Retailers are more heavily relying on suppliers who can add value and provide insights to help them grow their overall business. By focusing on growth opportunities for the retailer’s category (vs on your own brand opportunities), and then translating these into strategies that tie in with action, you’re adding value to your customers.

define growth opportunity, quantify the opportunity, identify the strategy, and create action with the tactics

A key source of these insights relates to Shopper data, as it provides information about the retailer’s categories and Shoppers. Unfortunately much of the data and insights never get to the sales people (or subsequently to the retail category manager’s desk) for one or all of these reasons:

  • Limited access to the data. Sometimes driven by a limited number of licenses for the data mining tool or limited resources in the category management team to pull data. I find this particularly with panel data, demographics, Shopper insights and Spectra and in many cases, there’s not even an awareness that this data is purchased or available in the organization.
  • Silos in the organization. Marketing may own Shopper Insights but fail to consider the turn brand Shopper insights into category insights that can add value to the retailer conversation.
  • Limited resources in Category Management. Many organizations rely too much on their category management team to pull and mine data which dedicates their work days to administrative work (rather than strategic) of both report and presentation development.

However, many organizations are starting to realize the importance of moving away from their traditional, relationship-based sales role to one that is consultative and fact-based. This strategic shift most often begins by training sales organizations on data and analytics.

How to Build Compelling, Fact-Based Presentations and Storytelling Skills

These skills can be improved across sales, marketing and category management teams and result in the ability to create engaging and fact-based presentations with logic and flow that focus on opportunities for the Buyer (either internal or external).

  1. Clarify the Situation. Begin by making sure your presentation has a purpose that focuses on your Buyer and what’s in it for them — not you. Clear purpose creates the purpose, or reason, for the presentation.
  2. Create Logic & Flow. Create a uncomplicated structure for your presentation so it is easy to understand and considers your Buyer’s conditions, needs, limitations and opportunities.
  3. Incorporate a Fact-Based Approach. Use only relevant facts that support your presentation’s purpose. If facts or insights are not clearly related, don’t include them.
  4. Storyboard. Before you jump in and build your slides in PowerPoint, document the opportunity and idea by creating a storyboard. Then outline and order what information and facts you’ll include in your presentation.
  5. Design Your Slides. Create each slide with clear purpose and make it easy to understand, including only include the insights that are compelling for your audience. Evaluate when to use descriptive text versus graphs and limit pie and 3D charts. Each slide should maximize its limited “real estate”.

The process above provide a glimpse of our live, in-person and online fact-based presentation and storytelling training. Organizations who invest in training their teams on this strategic and fact-based approach will learn the requirements for fact-based presentations to see the biggest returns on data investment, improved collaboration with their retail partners, and ultimately, improved sales results.

To learn more about training your team or entire organization, visit Fact-Based Presentation and Storytelling Training page or contact us below.

Topics: Retailer Solutions, Presentations, Supplier Solutions, Fact-Based Sales Process

Written by Sue Nicholls, Founder & President CMKG

Training and learning are my passions. I have felt privileged to have the opportunity to teach others since early on in my my career at P&G in the '80s (when category management was just beginning in North America). I have dedicated my work life to building and sharing this passion with others through active involvement in the industry, including long-term business relationships with large Retailer and CPG executives, development and influence on industry standards, curriculum, and conference education, thought leadership publishing and presentations at numerous industry conferences, and as a member on several university advisory boards. I am also an Adjunct Professor teaching consumer behavior in a Marketing Program.

I have developed over 150 hours of online curriculum, developed and facilitated hundreds of instructor-led training sessions, and had the privilege of working with retailers, suppliers and solution providers around the globe alongside an evolving industry. The challenge is to anticipate what's next and find ways to teach our students the skills required to compete and stay relevant.

Learning is a journey for everyone - individuals, teams, organizations, and yes, even training companies. You can't put training in a can, automate it and call it a day - it needs to evolve, be nourished, and continually improve. Through this blog and other channels, I share my years of expertise with our industry and believe that an open and ongoing conversation can improve any team’s capacity to implement business strategies that achieve their strategic priorities.