Does anyone remember the old days where the role of a territory manager (TM) was a standard step to bigger and better things in your FMCG career? Hit your call numbers, make friends with your customers, sell in the promotion, take the order, and move on. For many, that’s still what it is. For me, as a specialist FMCG fields sales recruiter, these are what I call the “rocks”; the career TMs.
There's nothing wrong with it, every team needs them. But, every company needs “risers”, the TM who has their eye on the next role, the role beyond that and some. The problem is, you need to show me, your manager, your HR team that you are a “riser” and not a “rock”, or you will be the career TM.
So, what do you need to do? This is my 3-step process to be a “riser”:
Understand your brands and collaborate with marketing:
It’s not enough to sell the promotion hard and make sure the point-of-sale looks as it should. You need to understand, from the brand team, who consumes the product and why it’s being promoted. Your conversation with your customer, the store manager, can then connect the brand and the promotion with the shopper in terms that make sense. Watch how much harder the customer will work for you once you’ve excited them about the opportunity to drive sales.
Become inquisitive and understand category:
A high-flying territory manager, a “riser”, will know how their brands fit into the category. You’re a long way off creating category strategy, but how many TMs pick up the phone to the category manager to ask about the category plan, how they can help bring it to life, to offer direct, customer feedback, from the coalface about how it is landing? Not many, and those that do are 1 - growing their knowledge and 2 - hugely increasing their internal profile. The “riser”.
Nail the customer experience:
Taking the order, hitting your call number and being home at 3pm may mean you’re efficient but probably means you’re a “rock”. The “riser” will ensure the orders have been processed, delivery problems sorted out and the customer is happy. They own all the touch points from the beginning of a sales process to the very end, every day.
The role of a territory manager is the best first role anyone can have in FMCG. Take the opportunity to learn, to understand the connection between a brand and category plan and the sharp end; the customer. Connect and collaborate with marketing and category teams and go above and beyond with your customer. Focus on these three steps and you will get the next role as a field sales manager, a category analyst, a regional account exec or an assistant brand manager. You will be the “riser”.