Sales and Climate Change: towards a new "Green" Commercial Way
- June 28, 2019
- Posted by: Yiannis Zarkadis
- Category: Artificial Intelligence, Change Management, Climate Change, Commercial Strategy, Digital, Sales Leadership, Transformation
Multiple studies show that 97% or more of actively publishing climate scientists agree that: “Climate – warming trends over the past century are extremely likely due to human activities”. And the latest U.N. report warns that “the world has just over a decade to get climate change under control.“
There is no doubt that there are many attempts and initiatives at institutional and corporate level to increase awareness and actionable engagement in order to reverse this trend. The Paris Agreement, Katowice deal, many corporate reforms and announcements etc, these are positive actions towards this direction. For the planet to survive, we need to reform the whole supply chain – from the way we Produce, Sell and Serve to the way we Consume.
Apart from the institutional and corporate activation at central/global level, actionable engagement is needed at micro – level too. Whether it concerns individual responsibility, social groups and populations, operational functions, etc. In relation to this, here we focus on Sales/Commercial. For two simple reasons:
- Sales operations engage daily millions of employees, customers and consumers. This means that they affect significantly the environmental footprint, through their physical activation, operation and communication.
- Sales act as an intermediary among businesses, customers and consumers. Which means that they communicate, influence and mobilise hundreds of millions of actions and decisions on a daily basis to all sides.
So, if businesses wish to mobilise a green commercial attitude fast and at a large scale, over and above their own social responsibility programs, internal procedures and production, lobbying and conferences, new product launches and brand portfolio (“green” brands), they have a powerful weapon in their hands to do so: it is the Sales team and the greater Commercial organisation.
Here below are a few examples of how we can transform towards a GREEN COMMERCIAL WAY. We can touch such topics as:
- Consumers and Shopper Insights
We can embody within our surveys questions addressing new potential green needs, as well as questions addressing the right answers regarding the actions we have to take within the point of purchase towards a strong positive green impact.
Soon, the world is going to be driven by circular economy and probably next to it we will see a new model in the Demand side/Consumption to be developed. With its key theme to be: consume “Less, Better, Simpler and in a Responsible way“. If this is so, then we will have to incorporate it within our consumer and shopper insights.
This is key! Because it is simple and instant. The daily coverage of the market, with millions of employees out in the field, definitely affect the amount of greenhouse gases released by human activities (e.g. transportation, etc.).
This has to be changed and it can be done. By optimising the efficiency of coverage plan towards some new ecological measures, which can be added within the set of Sales KPIs. The Coverage Plan may have to change and/or the way we travel as well. AI, digital transformation and technology can act as powerful levers towards this end. And the same does the revolution in the car industry which is under way and is affecting the potential choices regarding car and vehicle fleets.
- IT tools
Recently, there is a very strong progress in AI, digital, sales automation, big data, business analytics and other relevant topics being driven by technological revolution.
This gives companies the opportunity to understand better their market. But also, to communicate with their customers and consumers in different and more direct ways than ever before.
The adoption of these technological developments by the Sales community at a large scale, is able to influence positively their own ecological impact in relation to coverage, travelling, materials usage, promotion, communication and other relevant matters.
- Change Management
Due to the rapid technological developments, as well as the development of circular economy and its needs, a new model of Sales Leader is required.
In the near future the successful Sales leaders will be those who will be able to see not only the benefits of new technology and circular economy to what they already doing, but also to visualise and understand how these revolutions can redefine the way they conducting business. In terms of redefining their approach to route-to-market, market development, brand portfolio, organisational structures, consumer relations, innovation etc.
These leaders will be the “Angels of Change” who will be able to lead from the front and influence the rest of commercial organisations towards these reforms. This means that particular focus has to be paid on Change Management training programs, processes and initiatives.
- KPIs and Scorecard
Based on the above, along with the classic performance measures (quantitative and qualitative) the time has come to incorporate a set of some green key performance indicators. And their results to be clearly shown within the formal routine (month/quarter/annual) sales performance scorecards.
Keep it simple. Make a green set of sales KPIs that makes sense, can be monitored and measured (SMART).
- Sales Incentives, Trading Terms and Commercial Decisions
In order to mobilise the whole of your salesforce further and adopt enthusiastically the new Green Commercial Way, it is important to incorporate the above green KPIs within the salesforce bonus system. And also, in relation to the Value/Volume KPI scale of our salesforce bonus system, it would be good to make sure we put more emphasis (financial remuneration) on green brands.
Of course, the same applies to special green incentives provided to customers, consumers and trade partners through trading terms and promotions.
Finally, it would be very interesting to see this new green commercial attitude to extend in important business decisions that Sales/Commercial leaders take. For example, they could begin to integrate relevant green commercial standards within their own decision-making process of selecting Distributors in the market. This would mobilise the whole system even further and to a greater reach.
Sales/Commercial organisations are the best ambassadors we have in order to communicate on the market the power of our brands, unique selling proposals, promotions, best practices, advocacy programs and many others.
In this case, we have a powerful tool in our hands in order to communicate our environmental concerns and Care to our customers, consumers and trade partners. What does our company do for the environment and what it wants from them. Surely, this would mobilise the whole system to go even further.
” The world has just over a decade to get climate change under control. ”
In addition to the efforts made and initiatives taken at institutional and corporate level to reverse the climate – warming trend, we have to act at micro – level too. This has to be done fast and includes the operational functions of businesses too. Sales and the greater Commercial Organisations can have a great contribution in reversing this trend. This is due to their large size at a global scale and therefore their huge footprint in terms of daily human activation in relation to coverage, travelling, materials usage, communication, promotion, advocacy and other relevant matters.
The time has come to embrace and adopt a new Green Commercial Way. This new way simply integrates the ecological dimension within the Objectives/ Goals/Strategies/Measures set of the commercial organisation.
The companies that will get into this logic, will be the ones who will gain the respect of consumers and therefore those who will win at the point of purchase.
- What other ideas or thoughts can you add? Please leave a reply.