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.

Recent Posts

Excel - The Foundations for Great Analysis

Does your team have the Excel skills required to do the basics? Excel is a an important tool for most analysts, sales people, category managers, and business people in general. And everyone knows Excel, right? Or do they? Without basic Excel skills, sales people and category managers can't effectively analyze their business (never mind draw insights from it), administrators can't create great worksheets, and analysts may struggle with fundamental concepts. Never mind the risk of making errors and drawing incorrect conclusions from poorly built formulas and PivotTables. So why is Excel training a requirement for organizations when there are automated reports that should give everyone everything they need for their business? Because they don't (and can't!) meet all needs. The reality is, most meaningful analysis requires data manipulation, cutting, formatting and customizing - and that requires some strong foundational Excel skills. A few months ago, a client of mine contacted me about the need for some training in Excel skills for one of their sales teams. A sales manager had raised a concern that her team was not able to perform certain Excel essentials like formula writing, building PivotTables and creating charts. It was surprising to hear that proficiency in these skills was lacking on her team because, after all, everyone knows Excel, right? After a collaborative meeting with her, I developed a virtual training session that included some Excel basics like moving around in a spreadsheet and sorting data, writing formulas and conditional formulas (SUM, COUNT, RANK, UNIQUE), and creating charts and PivotTables. The session was "opt in", meaning that folks who already had proficiency in these areas didn't need to attend. THE RESULTS? I ran two 3-hour sessions for the client because of the high interest (and remember, this was "opt in", meaning they had the choice of whether or not to attend). The hands-on exercises and examples were particularly relevant for her sales team, using data and item rank reports - not just creating formulas, but also helping to think about interpretation of the different KPI's, as well as getting participants to think about what the formulas are actually calculating. We used one of their massive automated reports to build a PivotTable - moving them from learning to application - using examples from their own business. The training became, not just conceptual, but practical! Here's some of the (unedited) feedback from these sessions: Best 3-hour lecture/class I’ve attended. Time went by way too quickly! I learned many new things, i.e., formula building, shortcuts, and importance of being clear on what I’m trying to say. Handouts were helpful, and I will go back to reference them. Ask your team if they need Excel basics training! You might be surprised by their response. Learn more about Excel Virtual Team Training
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9 Ways to Improve Your Virtual Meetings & Presentations

Virtual meetings and presentations are not going away; even when we return to the office it's likely we'll continue to do much of our work and client transactions this way in the future. I’ve put together a list of steps to help you make your virtual meetings more productive and polished from beginning to end.
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The Secret Sauce for Better Strategy in Your Analysis

Integrating strategy into your analytics is one of the main areas most struggle with when doing their analytics — knowing what's relevant and what's not, what's a true insight and what's not. But if you know the secret sauce to bringing strategy into your analytics you’ll be able to turn your data and analysis into effective action to grow your business. And so I want to talk about pizza. Yes, you read that right — pizza.
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New Virtual Training Solutions from CMKG.ORG

This year spurred many changes, some of which will be lasting here at CMKG. We are a training company that teaches in many areas related to data & analytics, category management and presentation skills, primarily for retailers and suppliers. Last year required us to pivot our live classroom training into virtual training sessions in the online space – and I’d like to share more about that with you right now.
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The Changing Shopper Journey During a Pandemic

The shopper journey (or path to purchase) has changed, driven by our changing habits as we navigate through this pandemic. We need to understand these changes in the shopper journey from a big picture perspective and consider how they affect each of us, whether we are in category management, sales, marketing, shopper marketing, or retail operations. Because everything has changed.
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Improve Your Virtual Meetings in 3 Steps

When the pandemic first started and most of us moved to our home offices, we didn’t really think it would be a long-term thing. But working at home and being effective in the virtual space is now required in today’s business world. I’ve compiled 3 tips for you to improve your approach to virtual meetings right now.
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Your Post-Pandemic Shopper: What You Need to Know & Consider Doing

Last week I ran a webinar for our students on "Changing Shopper Behavior in a Pandemic." We vetted over 250 whitepapers, webpages and resources to identify some of the key things you need to consider about the changing shopper including:
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Grow YOU + YOUR Success

Need help to succeed in Retail and CPG industries or in related fields? Helping people succeed is what I have the pleasure of doing each day through the thousands of individuals, students, and corporate learners we serve. I love to build skills and capabilities within organizations and among individuals to help them succeed. Specifically, there are ongoing and new challenges and skill areas that we address through coaching and training services, including: Data to insights, including Shopper perspective Strategic thinking/Critical thinking/Business Acumen Fact-based presentation and storytelling Category Plan/Business Review Development Industry trends (e-commerce, shopper insights, omni-channel, AI, AR, IoT, etc.)
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Identify opportunities for growth and improvement

When you think about growth opportunities today, you might look at different measurements in your business based on what your overall strategy is. For example: If you measure penetration, your strategy may be to broaden the appeal of your category by increasing penetration of your loyal shoppers. If you measure market share, your strategy may be to grow your share of the market by “stealing” share from competition. If you measure loyalty, your strategy may be to increase your “share of wallet” (or loyalty) through effective in-store marketing programs. Etc., etc.
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9 Ways To Get Out of Your Rut and Innovate Your Category Management Approach (CMA+SIMA Conference Recap)

Last week I had the pleasure of attending the Category Management Association’s annual conference in Las Vegas, where category management and shopper insights professionals gathered to learn, share and network. It was particularly exciting for us at CMKG, because the CMA announced our new partnership at the conference. This venture will allow us to get our training into even more brilliant minds around the world. I facilitated 9 live training sessions over the course of the 3-day conference, spanning topics like: Identifying Growth Opportunities in Your Business, Fact-Based Presentations and Storyboarding, Shopper Insights (co-developed and facilitated with Leslie Warsaw from SIMA), Category Management in On-Premise (2-part session), and many more!
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