How to Use Custom Research to Close More Sales Deals

Many salespeople, especially those in consumer-packaged goods, sell to retailers and buyers and predominantly use point-of-sale (POS) data to support their efforts. But they should also be incorporating custom consumer research into their strategy as well. This practice would help make a case that goes beyond what POS data provides.

To elaborate, point-of-sale data is a specific type of data that is captured as a result of some sort of transaction. It can take place in a store or online. To be more marketable, POS data is often combined with other information or data points to provide more context. Point-of-sale data is beneficial and shouldn’t be left out of conversations with buyers altogether.

The obvious benefit of such data is an insight into actual sales performance at a product and category level. Consolidating it can also depict sales trends and predictions. Likewise, it can help forecast inventory, turnover (such as returns and exchanges), and order history.

However, POS data, no matter how it’s used, still has its pitfalls. Many brands are forced to purchase POS data on a large scale, so it can be costly. And sometimes it doesn’t always incorporate all the data a brand is looking for, or it requires a lot of sifting of numbers before you do find anything. A few other drawbacks include:

  • Integrating it with other data, as not every methodology for gathering and incorporating data is the right quality
  • Time-sensitivity of pulling data on the product or brand in-market can be difficult to get right and/or having a product in-market long enough to pull enough data on it isn’t always possible

Therefore, ensuring you have another strategy to supplement the inadequacies of POS data is important to every salesperson’s strategy. Specifically, custom research can fill the gaps when it comes to barriers, purchase behavior, and customer insights.

1. Start with Custom Research That Defines Barriers

A frequently pressing question that many salespeople can forget, is that when it comes to batting for a deal—rather than showing how many people buy their products—it can sometimes only be a matter of answering why consumers aren’t buying products. And sometimes it’s not always specific to the brand or product they’re trying to sell.

For example, people may want to buy a brand but are unable to convert to purchase because it’s not available in the store they shop at. Custom research can identify this as well as build upon it by mapping out brand barriers.

Building upon that, custom consumer research can test your brand’s performance against select brands and among the retailers that matter most to show where to focus not only your efforts but to prove a case against the competition when pitching buyers.

Insight into barriers can also show the competition’s strengths and weaknesses and your competitive advantages. Moreover, custom research that identifies barriers can easily exhibit the reasoning behind barriers to purchase, which results in more actionable insights for buyers.

Further, tracking brand performance through the brand funnel from awareness to consideration to usage can be far more impactful than any sort of POS data. POS data may show your brand is purchased more or more often, but it may be missing out on showing how much more it could be purchased.

This can be especially constructive to pitch additional factors like end-caps or in-store displays to retailers when increasing conversion is all that’s necessary to produce sales. In other words, if you have more awareness and consideration to begin with, you’d have more customers who’d convert; if the retailer would only focus on additional efforts or carrying your brand.

Custom research can also show that other people who don’t normally buy the category, would buy it if their brand was available. Take the milk category for example—a customer who usually purchases low-fat milk may have a propensity to buy almond milk as well, but unless it’s available, will never trial the product.

So, understanding that while select brands or even private labels are shown to consumers in-store, testing a list that includes additional brands or substitute products through custom research can show a better case for adding one brand or type of offering over another.

2. Then Detail Purchase Behavior

Leveraging custom consumer research alongside POS data can conjointly show how purchase behavior unfolds. Oftentimes, custom research can display when and how purchase frequency would increase, or why people would be more willing to pay more for a specific brand.

Respectively, by measuring brand loyalty and identifying customer preferences and needs around different products and their features, brands can learn:

  1. Sometimes it’s a matter of a lack of availability or convenient access to a product that inhibits a consumer from buying more of it, or
  2. It could be the actual retailer and in-store location that’s preventing a purchase

Either way, combining custom research with what you know from POS data can assist market analysts in their efforts to predict the increase in purchase frequency and really showcase the potential sales to buyers.

Or, whether it be through concept or creative testing custom research, having insights into potential products’ performance can increase the success and launch of new products with buyers (before POS data is available).

3. Lastly, Develop Rich Customer Profiles

Want to know how brands and retailers can work together to portray the right perceptions to encourage consumers to buy?

If you’re executing custom consumer research often enough, customer profiles start to become clear. A detailed look at who the customer is guides a brand on how to effectively market to them and drive them to the buyer. If a buyer sees this effort, they’re likely to invest more in the relationship as well.

Rich customer profiles or a deeper understanding of consumer segments, especially as it relates to brand loyalty is important to leverage—a loyal following is sometimes unstoppable. This type of insight can show different types of customers who shop for a brand, but don’t currently shop at the buyer’s store, would come there if they sold their preferred brand.

Basically, showing custom consumer research tailors a sales presentation to a buyer beyond all the syndicated and point-of-sale data every other salesperson is going to have. Show the effort and depth of your understanding of not only your brand and products but of the entire category in a way that helps you and the buyer. As we all know, approaching a deal with the facts (provided by custom consumer research) will make it less of a sales pitch and more of a no-brainer.


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