Podcast

Lauren Stiebing 21 October 2019

Commercial Capabilities in 2025 with Anthony Ellison

In the current era of globalization, the world is evolving rapidly and so are its markets. With increasing competition and a constant distribution of new products, a key element for a business to be successful is its capability to adapt and to understand what consumers want. We have invited Anthony Ellison to better explain how this is happening and to give us some clues on how successful businesses may work in 2025. Anthony is a senior commercial executive with over 20 years’ experience in the consumer products industry. He has worked for companies such as Kellogg, P&G and SC Johnson.

Topics covered in this podcast:

  • Evolution of the world and more specifically the FMCG market by 2025.
  • The commercial capabilities required to face those changes.
  • The impact those changes will have on a company’s hiring strategies.

Lauren:

Hi, I’m Lauren stiebing and thank you for joining us on the career success podcast. Today we have invited Anthony Ellison, a Senior commercial executive with over 20 years’ experience and a track record of proven and consistent top and bottom-line growth. He has worked in three major multi-nationals, building a broad experience across the Consumer Products industry. He has a deep knowledge of the European retail landscape and extensive sales and marketing skills. He is an expert across channels, including discount and eCommerce, strategic innovations and route-to-market optimization. For these reasons, we have invited him here to discuss with us about what Commercial Capabilities will be needed in 2025. So, yeah, the world around us is changing very quickly. What do you think the context will be in 2025?

Ant:

Well I think the context will be an interesting one, continuously evolving and rapidly developing. We are going to have world population, which is 8 billion, we’re going to have different markets and different countries banning petrol and diesel cars. If you believe Elon Musk, then we’ll have a man on mars at that point in time. So, there could be all-times of different set ups, and different situations that will happen for the world generally. I think, if I look at it in terms of what does that mean for the FMCG market and for the marketplace – I’m not a fortune teller – but, I’d like to think that we will have increasing diversity in the industry of all levels. And we’ll ideally get to a point of mental diversity, where organizations are looking for different ways of thinking and working and we can then create teams based on their skills, the knowledge, and the attitude that they bring. I hope that we can move away from short-termism and start taking a longer-term view of the business, and a reduction of focus on short-term profits, and then increase on longer company health and longer-term brand health as well. And I really like to see this truly operating digitally, there is a lot of talk at the moment in terms of digital transformation and all the different opportunities and potentials. And where we really see us in five years’ time, if that will have moved on from just the concept of transformation to really digital being at the heart of the business, and everybody really working on a seamless way across different channels, whether they are online or offline.

Lauren:

And in terms of commercial capabilities, what do you think will be required in the coming five years?

Ant:

I think there will be three areas that, the point already exist but in my opinion will become even more crucial to succeed across sales and marketing. But see, there is the idea of an omnichannel approach where, I think everybody – be it the consumer, be it the shopper, be it the customer – will expect a truly seamless shopping experience. So, brand messaging, brand positioning, activation has to be consistent across all those channels. It means that we need to have joined-up thinking, and we need to have remove for those silos, both from a mental perspective and from an organizational perspective. And at the same time, we need to create points of difference for each channel, the reason for using each channel and the benefits they provide. So, the commercial offer needs to be really smart in terms of how it’s integrated, how it’s seamless, but at the same time, place at each of those challenges strengths. So that’s the omnichannel approach I was talking about.

And secondly, it’s the idea of a general managing mindset. It’s going to be broad, cross functional thinking. I don’t think we’ll be able to operate with blinkers on, just operating on one functional alone. People will need to communicate and network across the organizations, both internally and externally, and persuade other people to support them. It’s not going to be enough to not know how to do something – be it analytics, or be it digital – these are going to be core skills that everybody will have to have, that mindset of enabling, supporting, communicating, working across that network, that real fundamental base will be necessary for everybody.

Lauren:

And what do you think the key success factors will be for both companies and sales leaders?

Ant:

First area for the business will be around physical and mental accessibility. Brands and companies will need to secure high mental awareness, and then be physical present when and where they need it. Ideally positive awareness, but really anything to occupy brain space is good. I was intrigued from the negotiations in the spot recently between Unilever and Tesco around Marmite and the cost price increase in the negotiations that happened. And, even though, the press was negative around Marmite, the sales still increased because their mental awareness and what people thought about and considered the brand, have it over mind, went up. Until, even though the awareness was around a bad, negative PR story, that sale was still growing significantly. So, that mental awareness isn’t going to be really cheap, because there is so much complexity, so much fragmentation, how you keep it on top of mind. And then, physically that means distribution, that means in store visibility; those core fundamentals as they have always been, but it will be important to be there across different channels.

And I think the other one that’s really important for sales leaders would be how they retain and motivate their top talents. I think there will be less career paths in terms of real clarity on how people move on it and on the market, and greater uncertainty. And leaders will need to help their teams navigate this and help them pick up the appropriate skills and knowledge along the way.

Lauren:

Yeah, I would say as well for my side, I’ve been seeing a lot of this. Because, the learning curve is so steep now, and there are new technologies, and there are new things to learn every day, it’s quite difficult to create a traditional career path as in the old ways of what you need to do between now and the next 10 years – or even 15 years. Would you say that you could see that in your teams and looking at the skills of your organization as well?

Ant:

Absolutely. And it really becomes the most in the key factors, in terms of people’s successes around attitude. Yeah, people’s ability to be resilient when things don’t go their way and their ability to get up and carry on and face the challenges of the next day; the ability to have a positive mindset and look at how they can continue to grow that business, how they can grow themselves, how they can grow their teams around them; and then also, in terms of how they can help others in that real positive mindset in terms of trying to enable others, trying to build other. That attitude is the thing that drives people. And when you’re looking at a time review, it’s those things that are driving people in terms of what their career options can be and I think that’s how you drive your career forward. It doesn’t have to be of an ABM, to be a BM, to be a marketing director or, you know, a straight linear path as it used to be. I think it’s much more fluid  but the right attitude the thing that will drive and give you options and drive people’s careers.

Lauren:

And how do you think these changes should impact a company’s hiring strategies? I mean, of course, I’m speaking more from an external hiring point of view. How would that impact them?

Ant:

I think it has to be this focus lessons specific skills sets and more in attitude. And it’s important, obviously, that a salesperson can sale and negotiate, but they also need to be digital savvy, they need to be comfortable with analytics, and able to work multifunctionally. And it’s a broad skillset, I mean, it’s a broad skillset than it’s currently being targeted. Specially across sales and marketing. And I think this comes back to, which is the most important thing and the thing that is the hardest to train, which is attitude. How do you think broad, how do you resilient, how do you have comfort with ambiguity. And I think this is where future leaders will be strong, and this is the key for hiring strategy: right attitude, and then the skills and knowledge are things that people can learn and train on the job.

Lauren:

Well, Ant, thank you so much for joining us today on the career success podcast.

Ant:

Thanks Lauren, it’s been a pleasure.