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Working in Consumer Packaged Goods Sales: What is it Like?

RepVue Editorial Team
RepVue Editorial TeamDec 22, 2023

Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) sales involves selling products that are frequently consumed and replenished, such as food, beverages, and personal care items. As a CPG sales representative, you would be responsible for building relationships with retailers and distributors, promoting your company’s products, and meeting sales targets.

Working in CPG sales can be challenging, but also rewarding. One of the biggest challenges is the highly competitive nature of the industry. There are many different companies vying for shelf space in stores, and you will need to work hard to convince retailers to stock your products. Additionally, you will need to keep up with the latest industry trends and consumer preferences to ensure that your products remain relevant and appealing to customers. On the other hand, if you are successful in CPG sales, you can enjoy a lucrative career with opportunities for advancement and growth.

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Consumer Packaged Goods Industry Overview

The CPG industry includes a wide range of products such as food, beverages, personal care, and household items that are sold to consumers through retail channels. This industry is a major contributor to the global economy and is expected to continue to grow in the coming years.

Market Dynamics

CPG is a highly competitive industry, with many companies vying for market share. The market is driven by consumer demand, which can be influenced by factors such as changing demographics, economic conditions, and lifestyle trends. Companies must be able to adapt quickly to these changes in order to stay competitive.

One of the biggest challenges facing the CPG industry is the shift towards e-commerce. More and more consumers are choosing to shop online, which is changing the way companies do business. Companies must be able to offer a seamless online shopping experience in order to remain relevant.

Key Players

A few key players dominate the CPG industry, including Procter & Gamble, Unilever, Nestle, and Coca-Cola. These companies have a significant presence in the industry and are known for their strong brands and marketing campaigns. However, there are also many smaller companies that are making a name for themselves in the industry by offering innovative products and services.

In order to succeed in the CPG industry, companies must be able to offer high-quality products at a competitive price point. They must also be able to differentiate themselves from their competitors through effective branding and marketing. Sales professionals play a key role in helping companies achieve these goals by building relationships with retailers and consumers and driving sales growth.

Roles and Responsibilities

Day-to-Day Activities

As a sales representative in the consumer packaged goods industry, your day-to-day activities will vary depending on the company you work for and the products you sell. However, some common responsibilities include:

  • Building and maintaining relationships with clients, distributors, and retailers
  • Conducting market research to identify new sales opportunities
  • Developing and implementing sales strategies to achieve company goals
  • Negotiating contracts and pricing with clients and retailers
  • Creating and delivering sales presentations to clients and retailers
  • Providing excellent customer service to clients and retailers
  • Analyzing sales data and trends to optimize performance

Sales Targets and Performance Metrics

In consumer packaged goods sales, success measured by your ability to meet sales targets and performance metrics. These may include:

  • Sales revenue: The amount of money generated from sales of your products
  • Sales volume: The number of units sold
  • Market share: The percentage of the market your products occupy
  • Customer satisfaction: The level of satisfaction customers have with your products and services
  • Sales growth: The rate at which your sales revenue and volume are increasing over time, or as compared to a benchmark from a previous year or quarter.

To achieve these targets and metrics, you will need to work closely with your team and other departments within your company. This may involve collaborating with marketing teams to develop promotional campaigns or working with logistics teams to ensure timely delivery of products.

Skills and Qualifications

Essential Skills

If you are interested in pursuing a career in CPG sales, here are some of the essential skills you should possess:

  • Communication skills: You will need to communicate effectively with clients, team members, and other stakeholders. This includes active listening, clear and concise verbal and written communication, and the ability to negotiate and persuade effectively.
  • Sales skills: You will need to be able to sell products and services to clients. This includes the ability to identify and understand clients’ needs, build relationships, and close deals.
  • Organizational skills: You will need to be able to manage multiple tasks and projects simultaneously, prioritize tasks, and meet deadlines.
  • Analytical skills: You will need to be able to analyze market trends, consumer behavior, and sales data to make informed decisions.
  • Problem-solving skills: You will need to be able to identify and solve problems quickly and effectively.

Educational Background

To work in CPG sales, you will generally need a bachelor’s degree, ideally in business, marketing, or a related field. With a little bit of creativity, though, you can position just about any degree as good preparation for a career in sales. However, some employers may accept candidates with relevant work experience in lieu of a degree.

In addition to a degree, employers may also look for candidates with experience in sales, marketing, or customer service. Some employers really like to hire people with a strong competitive drive, such as those who have played sports in high school or college. Internships or entry-level positions in these fields can help you gain the experience you need to succeed in CPG sales.

Challenges and Rewards

Common Challenges

  • Intense Competition: The consumer packaged goods industry is highly competitive, and you will be competing with other sales professionals to secure new business and retain existing customers. This means that you will need to be constantly on your toes, finding new ways to differentiate yourself and your products from the competition.
  • Changing Consumer Preferences: Consumer preferences are constantly changing, and you will need to stay up-to-date with the latest trends and adapt your sales strategies accordingly. This can be challenging, but it also presents opportunities to innovate and introduce new products that meet the evolving needs of consumers.
  • Pressure to Meet Sales Targets: As a sales professional, you will be expected to meet sales targets on a regular basis. This can be stressful, especially if you are working with a large portfolio of products or if your sales targets are particularly ambitious.

Compensation and Benefits

Despite the challenges, there are also many rewards to working in consumer packaged goods sales, including:

  • Competitive Compensation: Sales professionals in the consumer packaged goods industry can earn competitive salaries, especially if they are successful in meeting their sales targets. In addition to base salaries, many companies offer bonuses and commissions based on performance.
  • Opportunities for Advancement: Sales professionals who are successful in the consumer packaged goods industry can advance quickly, moving into higher-level sales roles or even into management positions. This can provide opportunities for career growth and increased earning potential.
  • Access to Exciting Products and Brands: Working in consumer packaged goods sales can give you access to some of the most exciting and innovative products and brands on the market. This can be especially rewarding if you are passionate about the products you are selling.

If you are up for the challenge and are willing to put in the hard work, it can be a great career path with many opportunities for growth and advancement.

Career Path

Entry-Level Positions

Entry-level positions in consumer packaged goods sales typically involve working as a sales representative or merchandiser. These positions require excellent communication skills, as you’ll be responsible for building relationships with clients and promoting your company’s products.

As a sales representative, you’ll be responsible for identifying potential clients, making sales calls, and closing deals. You’ll also be responsible for tracking your sales and meeting monthly or quarterly quotas.

As a merchandiser, you’ll be responsible for ensuring that your company’s products are properly displayed and stocked in retail stores. You’ll work closely with store managers to ensure that your products are prominently displayed and that they’re selling well.

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Advancement Opportunities

One common advancement opportunity in CPG sales is to move into a sales management role. In this role, you’ll be responsible for managing a team of sales representatives and ensuring that they’re meeting their sales quotas.

Another option is to move into a product management role. In this role, you’ll be responsible for developing and launching new products. You’ll work closely with your company’s marketing and research and development teams to identify new product opportunities and bring them to market.

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Finally, some sales professionals choose to start their own companies. This can be a challenging path, but it can also be very rewarding if you’re successful. If you’re interested in starting your own company, it’s important to have a solid understanding of the consumer packaged goods industry and a strong network of contacts.

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