Moving your team to a fact-based sales approach

Fact-based skills are a requirement in today's world

The combination of an increasingly complex world, the vast proliferation of data and the need to stay one step ahead of the competition has sharpened focus on using analytics within organizations.

Here are some great downloads from Category Management Knowledge Group for you to get started on fact based sales:

Fact-based sales skills go beyond the analytics – it’s about selling the action and opportunities to internal or external Buyers.  Have you ever been in the middle of a presentation and felt like you were losing your Buyer, or maybe you never engaged them from the beginning.  Maybe your presentation was completely off track, because you didn’t consider the conditions and needs of your Buyer? Or that you had failed to identify the correct business opportunity?   More often than not, the problem arises from presenting without facts, or from not presenting the relevant facts in a powerful and compelling way.

Developing fact-based skills is important for many different roles in Retailer and Vendor organizations - with selling scenarios required both externally and internally.  Following are some examples of different buyer and seller scenarios where a fact-based sales approach would be beneficial:  

Seller-->Buyer Scenarios in fact-based selling

So when we refer to the Seller and Buyer, realize that the concepts and analogies are relevant across multiple types of relationships.  

When making any kind of presentation that presents business issues or opportunities, effective use of industry, market and consumer data can build your image as an expert on the categories in which you are presenting. And these facts can help you to tell a compelling story that is aligned to your Buyer's conditions and needs.


A fact-based approach requires 3 considerations:

  1. Understand your Buyer, including their conditions, needs, limitations and opportunities.  Tie in your idea or opportunity to these conditions, needs, limitations and opportunities.

  2. Follow a critical thinking framework to create a logically flowing and structured presentation; Learn how to tell a story that makes your Customer want to say "yes" to your idea.  See the diagram below for an example of how to do this.

  3. Include relevant insights derived from category data into your presentation to support your idea.


How to move to a fact-based approach?

You need to think about what different roles require (a broad range of skills, including financial, consultative, planning, interpersonal and influencing skills) and then determine the training based on the skills required for the roles.  For instance, not all sales people need to be trained exactly the same way.  Your Walmart team will most likely require a higher level of skill development related to data insights and analytics than your corporate sales team that calls on multiple headquarter accounts.  Make sure that you train your team to a level that is slightly above the Retailer that they are responsible for so that they are always one step ahead and able to meet each Retailer's needs based on their level of sophistication.

Moving to a strategic, fact-based approach is an organizational change and not a new sales technique.  By developing your multi-functional team's data & analysis skills and developing internal processes and strategies that are consistent with this approach, you will move your entire organization forward to better meet the needs of your customers and stay ahead of your competition.  This can be done through category management training customized for different functions in your organization.


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Topics: Category Management, Presentations, Supplier Solutions, Strategic Collaboration / Joint Business Planning, Fact-Based Sales Process

Written by Sue Nicholls, CPSA Founder & President CMKG

Category Management is my passion. Since beginning with P&G in the late 1980s, 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 Category Management Association certification standards, curriculum, and conference education, thought leadership publishing and presentations at CSP News’ Convenience University, CMA’s Annual Conference and LinkedIn, and as a member of DePaul University’s Center for Sales Leadership Advisory Board, and Western Michigan University’s Food Marketing Advisory Board. Beginning in 2019, our catalogue of accredited training that my team and I have developed is part of the Category Management Association’s strategic education initiative for all member organizations. Always anticipating where the industry is moving and the skills needed to compete and stay relevant, I’ve helped to bridge the gap between data and insights pioneering the way we use storytelling and data visualization to better understand analytics and make effective decisions for the future. Using my years of experience, I coach clients of all experience levels in the Retail, Manufacturer, and Solution Provider industries to help them propel forward achieving both their learning and career goals whether in eCommerce, sales, or marketing and beyond. My specialty lies in leadership and engagement, networking and consulting with individuals and large companies from around the world to better improve and develop our curriculum and accredited training programs, like our leading-edge Master’s Training, utilized by category management organizations for strategic education. 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.