How the ‘Little Guy’ Field Teams Can Take on the Giants

In a world with Coca-Cola, Nike, Gillette, and other hugely successful brands, it can be tough as one of the little guys—especially in the retail execution space.

You’re on the hunt for ways to get your products sold by more retailers, take over more share of the shelf, and build a strong brand reputation among consumers. What can you do when you’re competing against the giants of your industry?

Thankfully, you have plenty of options to carve out your niche, starting with your field teams. Here’s where to begin.

Identify Your Differentiators

Obviously, there’s a little bit of a difference between your company and Coca-Cola, right? This is not a bad thing! While there are benefits to being a mega-corporation, there are also a ton of positives for the little guys. What are those positives? Answering that question is step one.

Identify your differentiators. Figure out what makes your company unique. It could be a fresh value proposition, a new product in a stale market, or highly competitive pricing. There’s something that sets your brand apart. You want to lock in on these differentiators because they help you in all other areas of retail execution. It ties back into your merchandising, your product development, pricing, field teams, and so on.

Create a Culture of Buy-In

The next step toward winning against tough competition is with your culture. You won’t have the same resources as those aforementioned giants, which means you need to get more out of everyone on your team. How can you get them to buy-in?

Focus your efforts around one central message. What is it that your company does so well? Why do you exist in the first place? Then, assign everyone achievable goals that filter up to the larger corporate goals. Make it clear how their individual contributions benefit the company as a whole. Finally, reward them for team success—financially or otherwise. Company wins should be wins for the individual contributor.

Put data back into the hands of your sales teams. Make the best use of the next hour of selling, the next dollar of brand investments, and generate the most cases sold. See how Wiser works for Essentia Water.

Share Data on a Regular Basis

How do engaged employees stay bought in? You keep them informed. Too many organizations aren’t transparent about the health of the company. This can take the form of siloed teams or infrequent company-wide meetings. Frustratingly, smaller organizations tend to have fewer barriers to sharing information than mega-corporations. This should be an easy win.

What can you do? Build regular data-sharing into your workflows. Send around reports to relevant parties on a weekly basis. Align everyone’s expectations around a single set of metrics and be transparent.

This idea is shared by Jordan DeCicco, founder and COO of SuperCoffee. Speaking with Wiser, Jordan explained that “all of our financial reporting gets shared out to the entire company on a monthly basis, and we talk about it openly because we want them to see the impact of their work.”

For SuperCoffee, that means individual contributors take ownership of company health and make personal improvements based on financial performance.

Provide Clear Field Team Expectations

Do you have a strong company culture and transparent data? Great! The next step is to use that foundation to create clear field team expectations. It’s all about setting your team up for success and helping them work smarter, not harder.

Every person out in the field should know exactly what they need to be doing—and, importantly, what metrics they’ll be measured against. That could be share of shelf, merchandising execution, scan data, or something else. What it shouldn’t be is unclear.

This is something that Jordan from SuperCoffee preached as well.

“Are we setting [field teams] up for success in the role, right? Do they have the tools that they need? Were they properly coached up on shelf space out of the gate or did we leave them out to dry?”

Give them the tools they need, the KPIs that matter most to the business, and keep it consistent so they know what they’re measured against each time they step out into the field.

It can feel like an uphill battle sometimes for the little guys. However, there are plenty of positives to being a small fish in a big pond, and focusing on these key areas will quickly help your business become more competitive—and start winning more sales at the shelf.

Matt Ellsworth

Matt is the Director of Marketing at Wiser Solutions, a retail analytics provider with an emphasis on data quality, data accuracy, and holistic in-store and online solutions.

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