By: Risham Najeeb - Guest Contributor
Tide. Crest. Secret. Pantene. These are household names of brands that many of us use in our daily lives. Like many people, while I used these brands as a part of my regular routine, I never paused to give much thought to the incredible effort and coordination that goes into bringing these brands from inception to the shelves of the stores where we pick up our groceries from. This summer, I had the opportunity to do just that, I was able to understand and influence this process as a sales intern at P&G Canada.
Specifically, I worked on the Oral Care Category for Shopper’s Drug Mart. Before I get into what I personally worked on over the summer, I want to start by providing some context on the roles and responsibilities an intern has and compare it to what a full-time P&G Sales employee (an Account Manager) does. The point of this is to show you how my work as an intern fit into the grander scheme of things.
So, What Exactly Does an Account Manager do?
In very simple terms Account Managers:
Act As Intrapreneurs
They take ownership of an entire category of products. It is their job to drive & execute strategic objectives, brand strategies, and grow share for that category at the retailer they work with. For example, you could be an Account Manager for the hair care category at Costco.
Act As Consultants For Their Category
They collaborate with their retailer to develop strategies to improve the performance of their category. This can involve leveraging insights from a large pool of data that P&G Canada has access to and making those insights useful for the category and for the retailer.
What was I Able to do as a Sales Intern?
I saw Real & Tangible Results of my Work
One of my projects involved engaging with and influencing Store Managers to align with P&G Canada’s strategic objectives for the Oral Care category. Throughout the summer, I spoke to several different store managers. Through using compelling data, understanding their viewpoint, and slowly convincing them of the merits of P&G’s strategy I was able to see my idea for a display go up in Shopper’s Drug Mart stores across Toronto. I was then able to track the effect these displays had on the sales of these stores and thus see the direct results of my efforts.
I had my Ideas Heard and Acted Upon
For another project, I was tasked with developing a plan to leverage a new influencer for Oral Care products. One of my favourite experiences from my internship occurred as part of my work on this project. I remember sitting in a board room full of 10 people from all different levels and parts of the company. All were there to listen to me pitch an idea about how we could tap into the potential of this influencer and how we could bring this plan to life. By the end of the meeting, I was able to gain approval for launching a pilot program to test the worth of my idea and potentially put it on track to becoming a national program. The feeling of pitching an idea to a multi-billion dollar company, to see it being taken seriously, and actually being acted upon was incredible.
I Received Support From and Learned From People at all Levels of the Company
My work by nature required me to collaborate cross-functionally. This meant that I was able to learn from people from many different parts of the company. Each time I spoke to a new person I learned something new about what makes P&G’s brands what they are today. Behind each brand was a finance person, a brand manager, a product supply person, a sales executive, and so many others who worked together to drive success for P&G. Being a part of this collaborative chain opened my eyes to the roles each of these people play in bringing a brand from its inception to the shelf of a local retailer.
Last but not Least, I Slowly Understood the Intricate Details, the Careful Thought, and the Creative Strategies That go Into Selling Something as ‘Ordinary’ as Toothpaste
All of the projects I worked on made one thing clear to me: the product sitting on a shelf at your local Shopper’s Drug Mart, was definitely not just “placed” there. The in-store merchandising, the location of the product on the shelf, a display at the end of the aisle, these are all influenced and tied together to craft in-store experiences all aimed at helping a consumer find the product they are looking for and picking the one that a company like P&G wants them to pick. So, next time you walk into a Shopper’s Drug Mart and see that Crest Toothpaste sitting on the 3rd shelf from the top, take a second to think, why is it there? Maybe an intern suggested it.
Procter & Gamble is currently hiring Brand Management, Sales, and Finance & Accounting Summer Interns. Check out P&G's internship Instagram here. Click the button below to learn more about these positions and to apply. Applications are due October 29 at midnight.