It’s no secret that having access to any kind of retail scan-data gives a CPG sales team much better insight on new revenue opportunities and existing revenue gaps. Unfortunately, turning this data into action is a whole other story. Even after intensively digging through hordes of numbers in these antiquated data-sheets, you can still be left with the challenge of effectively communicating the opportunities to your individual sales reps. By the time you get it broken down, cleaned, and formatted for each rep to realistically use…the market has already changed and the numbers are out dated. Factor in the ridiculous price tag data companies put on their data and you’re left wondering whether the investment in data as any ROI whatsoever.

To help emphasize just how difficult of a process this can be, I did some digging and stumbled upon an actual course created by Neilson to educate people on what to look for in the jungle of data they provide, and how to pull out the good bits.  It’s easily a Catch-22–in order to save time and resources wasted on sales calls that have no opportunity, one must invest time and resources on sales analysts or expensive fragmented technology first.  “Bittersweet” might be a better phrase to use.

If we were still in the year 1995 before the internet “caught on” and laptops decreased significantly in price, carrying around binders filled with print-outs of datasheets and manually ticking off boxes on those sheets were the norm. But 20 years later when we’re hearing the terms “millennial” and “the cloud” thrown around at least once a day, when the population of large countries (India and China) primarily rely on mobile internet, and when massive amounts of data can be easily collected…this archaic “norm” is no longer acceptable.

I’m genuinely surprised at the dinosaur-like thinking surrounding retailer scan data.  From manufacturers to brokers/distributors to 3rd party data providers, no one’s figured out a better way to visualize scan data and then quickly spread the findings to those on the team who need it to be able to make an impactful change?

Full disclosure, my background consists primarily of selling innovative technology so I am probably a bit biased against the complacency I’ve seen in the CPG industry concerning outdated sales tools/processes. CPG Sales organizations, it’s time to build and embrace technology if only because the definition of the word is “the application of scientific knowledge for practical purposes, especially in industry.” Let’s make CPG more practical!