Grocery Guru Episode 9: The Three Ghosts of Christmas; Past, Present and Future, with Andrew Grant and Darren A. Smith

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Making Business Matter (MBM)
Making Business Matter (MBM)
Grocery Guru Episode 9: The Three Ghosts of Christmas; Past, Present and Future, with Andrew Grant and Darren A. Smith
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The Three Ghosts of Christmas

Join Andrew Grant and Darren A. Smith in the eighth episode of Grocery Guru: The Three Ghosts of Christmas; Past, Present and Future.

Three Santa hats against a background of fairy lights

The Three Ghosts of Christmas; Past, Present and Future.

You Can Read The Full Three Ghosts of Christmas Episode Transcript Below:

Darren A. Smith:

Hello. Welcome to episode nine of the Grocery Guru. We’re here with Andrew Grant.

Andrew Grant:

Hi, Darren.

Darren A. Smith:

Hello. You’re looking very festive with your Christmas tree.

Andrew Grant:

Yes, look. Yeah. All nice and ready. Not a lot of presents under the tree. A bit worried. It must be these port delays that we’re hearing about.

Darren A. Smith:

It must be. Now one of my favourite films is the Christmas Scrooge Muppet Carol with Michael Caine.

Andrew Grant:

Yeah. Michael Caine.

Darren A. Smith:

Now I’ve said that because I’ve set you up in the… I don’t know, you want to talk about the three ghosts, is that right?

Andrew Grant:

Yeah. No, the Christmas Carol. Yes. Charles Dickens, the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future. They visited Scrooge on Christmas Eve and yeah, I think this is really aimed at, I guess, at account managers, because obviously, the Ghost of Christmas Past, both you and I as buyers used to see, I don’t know, what 20 account managers a week?

Darren A. Smith:

Yeah, yeah. Or more. Yeah, yeah. The whole variety. Yeah.

Andrew Grant:

They’d spend their day driving down the M1, they’d turn up with that Greggs sausage roll pastry on their suit. They’d have a nice half-hour chat with us. We might even give them a cup of coffee. And then they’re off to have a sleep in the lay-by for the afternoon.

Darren A. Smith:

They were all hardworking as well.

Andrew Grant:

I’m sure they were all very hardworking but unfortunately, the fact of Christmas present is, I’m not sure there’ll be a single account manager out there that has actually had a physical meeting with a buyer this year. And we’ve said in a couple of these episodes, haven’t we, that the last nine months has compressed 10 years’ worth of change to everything. To all our lives, but, just as much grocer, I think we said it with home shopping, home deliveries and now at the stage where they were expected to be in 2030, not in 2020.

Darren A. Smith:

And wasn’t it the CEO of Airbnb that said something like 18 years of development has been crushed in nine months.

Andrew Grant:

Yeah. This nine months has changed our lives at warp speed. And just thinking of the account manager, nine months without a physical meeting with a buyer, lucky probably even to get Zoom meetings.

Darren A. Smith:

Yes.

Andrew Grant:

So the future, looking forward to the Ghost of Christmas Future is, and not wanting to be too bleak about it, but I think buyers have become a lot more self-sufficient, a lot less needy of their account managers in the last nine months. And I don’t see that changing.

Darren A. Smith:

Well, that’s very true. And also I’m just going to touch on the Ghost of Christmas Past a little more, in that those account managers, some of them are excellent at their interpersonal skills, building relationships and that’s all flipped on its head where they’re now trying to do it over Zoom, which is much, much harder.

Andrew Grant:

Darren, remind us of your Zoom statistic. Why is Zoom so difficult?

Darren A. Smith:

Well, Zoom’s difficult because the eye can see 576 million pixels. Now that just means we’re in higher resolutions. When I see you face to face, you’re in high resolution, I can see all the corners of your mouth changing, your eyebrows raised, all those nonverbal cues that could be an idea of what you’re doing or what you’re really saying. But over here, my laptop’s running about a million pixels, maybe a million and a half. So it’s like watching someone through a fog. I can’t see all the little changes that you’re making that give me the idea of what you really mean. And that’s hard and it’s exhausting. And that’s why the Ghost of Christmas Past, sorry, Present, is such a pig.

Andrew Grant:

Yep. No. And that’s aside from the fact that zoom meetings are very, very difficult. As I said, I think buyers are becoming more self-sufficient, so the Nam of Christmas future needs to rejig his or her toolkit or skillset to survive the future.

Darren A. Smith:

It does. It does. And one of the biggest challenges I think is that if we just go back for a moment to the past if it was a boring presentation, it becomes really boring over Zoom. And if your influence was poor face-to-face, it becomes really difficult over Zoom. So for me, it magnifies things so that the challenges for the future is you got to up your game on those presentations, on that influencing, in a whole different way.

Andrew Grant:

Yeah. You and I, whenever we do programs, always laugh about that dreadful four o’clock on a Thursday when the shiny suited Nam turns up with his or her 173 page PowerPoint presentation, you really just want to…

Darren A. Smith:

I know. And now the problem is you see someone open up a presentation on Zoom or whatever medium people are using. The first thing they do is look bottom left or bottom right, depending on which program and they see one of 150 slides or one of 70, and already you go… That’s it.

Andrew Grant:

Yeah. Yeah. The challenge of the future is going to be, how do you grab buyers’ attention? How do you make them want to talk to you? Be it physically, or be it remotely. And for me, it comes back to what we’ve always gone on about is, the new gold dust of selling, which is shopper insight. Tell them things about their shoppers that maybe they didn’t fully realize that helps them to sell more and then consequently make more. I can bang on about this for hours, but, absolutely if you know your customers’ shoppers at least as well, if not better than them, then you’re going to be a successful Nam in the future.

Darren A. Smith:

And we’ve both seen those presentations where however many slides there are, you get to the recommendations at the end and they’re all quite vague and you think, “My God, I’ve now got this presentation, I think the supplier wants to do really, really well. I think there’s a bunch of money in it.” But you put it on your desk and think, “My God, I don’t know what to do with it next.”

Andrew Grant:

Yeah.

Darren A. Smith:

If we were to flip that into, here’s a presentation of seven ways to make 10 million pounds on your category, hold on, I’m all ears. I’m listening to you all day long. You give me a plan. You told me things that I didn’t know about my shoppers and here’s how I can go and do it, talk to Bob, talk to Ron. Make this happen, that happen. Boom.

Andrew Grant:

Yeah. Absolutely. Absolutely. I think account managers, just like all of us are going to have to live with a new normal when we finally come out of this thing, hopefully, April, May time. I guess the Ghost of Christmas Future looks like reequip yourself, take this time now to reequip yourself with the skills to be indispensable when it comes to your customers’ shopper data, would be my [inaudible 00:07:11].

Darren A. Smith:

Yeah. I would build on that. So shopper insight. Absolutely. I would add to that influencing because I’ve seen, we worked with a lot of clients over the years and it’s become apparent in the last nine months. I’ll do this. You see some of them are talking to you like this, others are talking to like this. Some are here and the lighting’s poor. And all of it contributes to reducing their power of influence. I mean, we want to be framed correctly, want to have good lighting. You want to be able to see me because already you’re going through a filter. I’ve got to make sure I’m using a lot more hand gestures than I did before.

Andrew Grant:

Yeah. And have a decent Christmas tree in the background, another top tip.

Darren A. Smith:

That would absolutely help.

Andrew Grant:

I’m not sure if there’s a fairy on the top, it’s missing. Oh, it’s got a star. It’s got to star on the top.

Darren A. Smith:

All right. So just tell us in summary, what are our three ghosts?

Andrew Grant:

Okay. So obviously Ghost of Christmas Past, good old days when buyers wanted to see their account managers, account managers on the road. Most of them love that lifestyle. Unfortunately, the Ghost of Christmas Present is nine months of effective lockdown. Haven’t seen your buyer physically for nine months, challenges as you’ve just very clearly gone through. Challenges of making Zoom work for you. Ghost of Christmas Future actually can be a positive future, but people are going to need to reequip with the skills to live in this new normal.

Darren A. Smith:

And I’d leave our viewers with one question. Do you understand the difference between data insight? Most people don’t. And if you don’t, come and talk to us about shopper insights, we’ll explain the difference and we’ll help you go from a whole load of data over here, to how can I make my buyer a load of money over here. Until then. Andrew, thank you. Lovely Christmas tree. I’ll see you next week.

Andrew Grant:

Take care. Bye-bye.


For further tips and information, you can take a look at our Ultimate Guide to Category Management and our Category Management YouTube Channel. Also, check out our award-winning blog to see more Category Management tips and articles.

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