A Career in FMCG Sales & Marketing
Ajay Ohri | March 31,2010 04:48 pm IST
Do you enjoy talking to people, negotiating and making deals? Does constant interaction with people suit you better than sitting in front of a computer? Does travel and seeing new locations excite you? Then a sales and marketing career may just suit you fine.
Sales and Marketing have been traditionally regarded as ever-green job options for building sustainable and lucrative careers.
While traditional sales and marketing jobs have been in the fields of Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) and consumer products, newer fields in sales and marketing include sales for Information Technology Enabled Services (ITeS) and Internet Sales.
Marketing is defined as the profitable satisfaction of consumer needs. An integral part of the selling process is convincing the customer of the differential superiority of own products over others. The sustained economic growth within Asia is likely to see a steady share of marketing jobs within the industry and to fresh graduates here. This is because sectors like finance, information technology and consulting have cyclical ups and downturns. While in boom years, these sectors make headlines about number of job offers and salaries, during downturns, it is the marketing jobs that remain steady.
People may stop investing in technology during bad economic times, but they still eat the same quantity, brush their teeth with the same frequency, and use soap with nearly same regularity.
The basic driver of demand for FMCG sales is, thus, less elastic to economic downturn. For booming economies like Asia where financial services marketing is also expanding, career options have to be planned taking into account severity of downturns without adequate social security. Most careers span 35 years long, and you can be sure that people will eat, drink and spend on FMCG products even then.
Type of Sales & Marketing
There are multiple ways of selling, as defined below: -
Types of Selling
Simple Sales - This kind of sales occurs when buyer and seller are face to face, both agree on quantity of goods and services to be exchanged and compensation to the other party. It is marked by a short sales cycle, from the time taken in initiation to closing the sale.
Complex Sales - In this kind of sales, there are multiple levels to be crossed before final agreement to sale is affected. Examples are selling of industrial products and technology services. The stages in complex sales are prospecting of potential clients,
creation of marketing collateral or brochures, answering Request for Information, Request for Proposals, contract negotiation, scope of work and service level agreement (for services), and final contract signing. Actual delivery and post-sales activity is part of operations and delivery team.
Relationship Sales - This kind of sales occurs in mostly existing clients, in which an ongoing relationship is leveraged and mined for further cross-selling of other products or up-selling into more premium products. Banking and Financial Services are the principal users of relationship selling.
Basic Sub-Sectors Within Marketing
Some of the basic sub-sectors within sales and marketing are -
1) Fast Moving Consumer Goods - The term fast moving consumer goods refers to goods of daily use bought by retail consumers, like tooth-paste, soaps and detergents, deodorants, etc. Fast moving consumer goods are called so because the basic unit of sale is a fast moving consumer good that needs to be made available at point of sale, and replenished. This sector has two types of sales, primary sales and secondary sales, and these refer to sales from manufacturer to distributor and sales from distributor to retailer and finally to consumer. Big retailers like malls (Target, Wal-Mart, Subhiksha) deal directly with the manufacturer as part of organized retail while other retailers like the neighborhood stores deal with re-sellers like distributors. The role of a sales and marketing person is channel management, and will be covered in detail further in this article. The sales channel includes both company staff and outsourced partners like direct sales agents and direct marketing agents.
2) Financial Services - Financial services refer to products like credit cards, insurance, home loans, personal loans, consumer loans, bank deposits, and stock broking accounts. Financial services are sold by both banks (ICICI Bank) and non-banking financial companies (Citi Financial). They are further divided into assets (in which the company lends money) and liabilities (in which the company accepts money). The three roles within a retail financial services firm are in marketing and sales (which does the selling), credit (which helps define whom to sell and whom not to sell because of risk reasons) and collections (which helps collect money from consumers who have fallen behind on payments). While marketing persons devise campaigns over the phone, direct mail, television, radio and events, it is the branch-based selling that helps this sector achieve the sales. This sector is much more highly regulated, but has seen rapid growth in recent years as the Indian consumer has one of the lowest levels of debts in the world.FMCG sales and consumer durables sales are examples of this.
3) Automobiles, Two Wheelers, Trucks - The automobile sector has shown rapid growth in India in recent years, and has been marked by the entry of world-class players in this market. In two-wheelers, the increasing trend is the shift from scooters to motor-cycles. While automobiles are classified as Segment A (Entry-level - Maruti 800), Segment B (Indica, Santro, Wagon R), Segment C (Sedan-class) and Segment D (Luxury-segment) cars based on price, the segment of multi-utility vehicles and SUVs (like Tata Safari, Honda CRV) is also showing rapid growth.