How to Build Trust in Your Retail Media Efforts

This article was originally published on TotalRetail and was written by Bernadette Van Osdal, Vice President of Sales at Merkle.

Winning at retail is more important than ever today. With an expected one in four media dollars being spent in retail media by 2026, building a thriving sales practice is critical. Sales can no longer be solely about selling tactics or product capabilities; instead, it must center around building trust and educating potential brand advertisers on how to design a strategic approach that aligns their investment to both the retailer and its brand priorities. Retailers must first and foremost understand that brands don’t want to be sold to, but instead want to work with a strategic partner that understands their business. Training a sales team to move from being product-centric to customer-centric separates you from your competition and places your retail media network on a path of being viewed as a trusted advisor vs. a seller.

How, then, can a retail media network build a sales organization that delivers on revenue goals while also being viewed as a trusted advisor to each brand’s business?

It starts with training on a sales methodology called solution selling. Solution selling shifts the focus from the retailer to the brand, putting the brand’s pain points at center stage and addressing each issue with appropriate solutions.

By placing the focus on building relationships that matter, the seller effectively demonstrates:

From there, solution selling follows a five-step process: approach, identify needs, solve, confirm, and deliver. The two most important steps are the approach and identifying the needs. When done properly, the rest should happen naturally.

  • The approach establishes credibility. Start with a valid business reason that reframes the way a prospective brand thinks about you, and demonstrate that your focus is on them. This can only be accomplished through research. Sources for this research can include the brand’s press room, quarterly or annual reports, social blogs and posts, Google search, and retailer intelligence. Ten minutes of research can shift your perspective from you to the brand.
  • Identify needs and prepare for a thorough brand needs analysis. Avoid starting a meeting with a 15-plus page capabilities deck that details the latest product offerings. Instead, spend 30 minutes (ask for 45) and probe with thoughtful questions on potential pain points to uncover the true needs of the brand. With macro- and micro-economic conditions, including inflation, risk of recession, the lasting impacts of COVID, and data privacy, there are many areas to explore. Don’t shy away from difficult topics — lean into them. If you, as a seller, spend more time talking about yourself than these challenges, how can you put an effective strategy together when you don’t know what problem you’re solving? The simple answer is you can’t.
  • Solve by aligning on the most pressing needs. Work with internal strategy teams to develop a defined solution that supports e-commerce performance and in-store sales growth.
  • Confirm by educating the client on how you will solve their needs. Present solutions that demonstrate the value you offer as a partner, discuss any refinement, and align on key performance indicators.
  • Deliver by sharing performance metrics. Offer up optimization strategies and continue to demonstrate how easy it is to partner with you.

In the end, retailers that focus on recruiting and training sales teams that understand the importance of solution selling will gain a competitive edge. Building a joint business strategy and investment plan that focuses on the metrics that matter and ultimately allows the brand to make smarter decisions will achieve the desired result of becoming a trusted advisor, driving results, renewals and referrals. And when your brands win at retail, you win!