Job Title: Senior Account Executive
Type of Company: The company I work for makes consumer products, and I work in the sales division. I am responsible for sales of health and beauty care products at a grocery chain that includes Stop & Shop and several other retail chains.
Education: BA, Psychology, Cornell University MBA, Marketing, Yale School of Management
Previous Experience: I worked as a consultant at Booz, Allen & Hamilton in Washington, DC for 3 1/2 years after college and before going to graduate school. The practice I worked in was called Human Resources Management & Training.
Job Tasks: In my job as Senior Account Executive I sell beauty care products to a chain of supermarkets that includes the Stop & Shop stores. My objective is to maximize the sale of my company's products and grow the share of my products over competitors' products. I present new products to a Beauty Care buyer at the chain's corporate office and try to secure distribution of my company's new and best-selling products on the retailer's store shelves. Once the retailer agrees to buy our products, I work with their space analyst to try to get the best position on the shelf. Best position is at a consumer's eye level.
I manage money called "trade funds" that I use to run ads that you will find in the circulars that come with your Sunday paper or in the mail. I also sell the buyer a merchandising plan so that she will run ads and put out displays of my products at the same time that my company is dropping coupons in the Sunday paper. I evaluate the ads once they run and work to get the best return on investment for the trade fund money I spend.
I work to influence pricing of the products I sell by showing the buyer how other stores/retail competitors are pricing my products, and by analyzing sales to show the buyer at what price points they can maximize sales and profit.
Finally, I have six account executives who report to me. I provide them feedback, edit their presentations, and perform quarterly reviews to ensure they are spending their trade funds efficiently and within company guidelines.
Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best part is seeing the very tangible results of my work. I get to open weekly grocery store circulars and see ad layouts that I've helped design, and then measure the quantifiable sales and share results via AC Nielsen scanner data and shipment data from my company's internal ordering system.
The worst part of my job is that is takes a lot of hours and I have a hard time juggling my responsibilities as a mother, wife, daughter, and friend.
1.) Clear, succinct communication - both oral and written - is very important in many fields, including sales. Take writing courses and classes where you have to give presentations and make public speeches.
2.) Math is important. Take accounting, economics, financial analysis, statistics so that you are comfortable building spreadsheets, understand financial pay-out, can manipulate, analyze and synthesize large amounts of quantitative data into the key findings and then make actionable recommendations based on the data.
3.) Do not think that you are above any elements of the job. I have two Ivy League degrees, make a decent six figure salary, have people reporting to me who are a decade-plus older than me, and I still have to do "reset work" - setting a grocery store shelf with new shampoo products at 7AM in the morning. It's not glamorous, but it's an important part of the job. At times I file, make copies, send faxes, assemble binders - all administrative but necessary tasks that are not below me. Arrogance is an enormous put-off.
Additional Thoughts: What has surprised me in my twelve years of consumer product sales work is that such a simple business - securing shelf and ad space of household items on the shelves of grocery and drug stores - can be quite complicated. I work for a large multi-national company, and there are a lot of complex internal systems and bureaucracy. It's important to stay focused and positive.
Also, the goals of my company and our retail customers are not always in sync. For a sale to be accepted, it has to fit with the operations and financial goals of the retailer. What is good for my company is not always good for the retailer. For example, we want to sell mid-price brands in this tough economic climate, but it will cannibalize/reduce sales of a retailer's very profitable private label brands.
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