Let’s look in detail at the purpose of a shop visit and its application. We discussed this topic in our article on launching an organic brand, but this step is not limited to the launch. Indeed, thanks to the sales visit, you can monitor the actions on the ground to ensure that the sales strategy is being properly executed. Whether you have an internal or external sales team, the in-store visit is an essential tool that you must know how to use in order to be more effective in your approach.
Planning your sales rounds
France has more than 3,200 organic shops, spread throughout the country, and this figure is increasing year by year. Let’s take a concrete example (get out the calculators!): a sales rep works 200 days a year, if he visits 4 times a day, that’s 800 visits a year. By visiting a shop on average once a month, I’ll let you calculate the number of salespeople that represents.
So the first step is to plan your rounds and target the relevant shops, to ensure that your sales force can cover the whole area. In their car, with samples in the boot, they drive for miles to meet the shop managers in their area and convince them to list their products.
Once the shops have been targeted, two strategies can be implemented:
- The unannounced visit, which can lead to an exchange, or a planned visit (ouch)
- The planned appointment
At Ecolive, for example, we have opted for the second choice, in order to optimise our rounds. Thanks to our sales coordinators, our sales representatives do not have to organise their routes and can concentrate on their appointments.
Meet the shop teams
“Call me the manager”. Well, we are not in that situation (fortunately), but the purpose of the visit is to meet the manager and his teams. The reason is primarily social and relational. It is important to build relationships and maintain one’s network, to talk to them about their daily lives, their projects, their difficulties, their clients…. These are the people on the front line, closest to the end consumer, who have the most up-to-date information, and who are therefore your allies of choice.
These meetings allow you to :
- Create an account opening / reconquer an account
- Build customer loyalty
- Analyse your presence in shops and optimise your merchandising
- Take orders and pass them on to distributors
- Communicate on commercial operations (samples, promotional plans, events, brand communication, etc.)
- Train teams on your brand to better promote it
If well prepared, the in-store visit will allow you to develop your network and ensure that your sales are closely monitored by retailers and end consumers, and thus adapt your strategy if necessary. Of course, this will also depend on the measurements taken.
Measuring commercial actions
Good management is nothing without indicators. In addition to insights from the field, the sales representative also has a reporting role to analyse your performance in order to take the necessary actions and adapt your strategy. What should be measured during the sales visit?
Several metrics are important to ensure quality follow-up:
- DN (numerical distribution), which counts the number of outlets with your reference out of the total number of outlets
- DV (value distribution), which represents your market share on the shelf
- The position and the place taken in the shelf space
- Analysis of competing products
These measurements allow you to see, from one visit to the next, the evolution of your positioning on the shelves, and therefore to know if your commercial operations are successful or not. The field salesman will then give you the results of his visit to enable you to adapt your strategy or not.
For greater transparency and precision, we have set up our own CRM tool at Ecolive which allows you to have direct access in real-time to the results of our sales representatives’ point-of-sale visits (number of shops visited, product statements, reporting, analyses, etc.). For more information on our Field Division, you can consult our article Your sales force in the organic network, or contact us directly via the form below.