Name: Eric Paul
Title: Vice-President of Sales and Distribution, Cascades Tissue Group
Years in your current position: 2
Q: How did you arrive at your position?
A: I came to Cascades Tissue Group in 2015 as Director of Sales for Eastern Canada with 17 years of sales and marketing experience. Previous to that, I started my career at Kraft Foods when I was a student and worked my way up to National Trade Planning Manager. From there I went on to positions at MAAX Bath, which eventually led me to Cascades, where I’ve held a number of positions including VP of the Canadian sales team, VP for enterprise accounts and now VP for all distribution in North America. It’s here at Cascades that I know my values and culture are a perfect fit. I arrived at each of these positions by not only setting both professional and personal goals, but also by developing a plan to achieve them.
Q: What are your key responsibilities in your current position?
A: My main responsibility is to provide my team with the best possible direction and help them achieve their business and personal goals – if they win, I win and so does the company!
Q: What impact(s) has the COVID-19 pandemic had on sales within the jan/san industry?
A: COVID accelerated trends that were already in motion. For example, e-commerce with B2B buyers researching and purchasing products online. The pandemic also changed the way buyers and salespeople interact. As virtual meetings became more mainstream, prospecting and initial meetings where no previous relationship existed became difficult. Additionally, in the jan/san industry specifically, the focus has been more on PPE, chemicals, hand sanitizers, gloves, etc. Major changes in paper dispensing machines are somewhat less common when buyers can’t see the functionality and try the devices themselves. Therefore, the need for smaller trials and an easy buying experience has become more complicated.
Q: How did Cascades PRO navigate the impact(s) of COVID-19 on sales?
A: Cascades PRO took advantage of the shifts in buyer behaviors by restructuring its sales team. We can now assign key account sales managers to key partners, even if they aren’t located in the same areas. When the pandemic is over or we go back to a “new normal,” we know the virtual meetings and hybrid work from home/office trend will remain. That being said, important meetings can happen face-to-face as long as they are planned well ahead, and “regular” day-to-day meetings can occur virtually.
We also know it’s important to have local representation. With this in mind, we’ve made sure we have business development managers strategically located all over North America who can support and assist any of our key partners and their various branches and teams.
From a sales management standpoint, there is a cultural shift that has started at Cascades that touches two key areas. One is the need to have cross-functional or customer teams working together towards meeting our key customers’ needs. This means that staff from supply chain, marketing, operations and sales all align and develop a relationship directly with customers. The second key area is a more agile and decentralized approach on decision-making in order to improve overall communication with key customers.
Q: Beyond the pandemic, are there other market trends impacting sales today?
A: The digitalization of the buying process in the B2B world has become predominant. As a manufacturer with a go-to-market approach of aligning with key distributors, we need to help facilitate this trend by providing tools, content and resources for our key distributing partners. Another key element in today’s world is the importance of an efficient supply chain.
Q: What are some trends you expect to see in jan/san sales strategy in 2022? In five years?
A: Consolidation will be a popular word in the next months and years. Whether it’s in the distribution network, the product portfolio, the array of services or customized solutions offered, there will be consolidation. In order to be more efficient and reliable, the overall offer will continue to be more automated, more streamlined and less customizable. Our theme for 2022 is Do Less, Then Obsess! In other words, don’t try to do everything… do less, but what you do, make sure you do it better!
Source: Cascades PRO