Sales Engineer Kelvin Brown Sr. leverages his hard-won CPG data expertise to solve unique challenges for brands – and makes it fun along the way. We spoke with Kelvin about how his industry background fuels his passion for sharing knowledge and positively improving lives.
Role: Sales Engineer
Lives in: New Orleans, LA
Favorite grocery store product: The Good Crisp potato chips
Kelvin is widely regarded at Crisp for his infectious enthusiasm. He speaks ardently about everything from his family to the world of CPG, inspires Crisp’s collaborative work environment, and is an involved member of his New Orleans community. He strives to make a positive impact in all he does.
At Crisp, these qualities also make Kelvin an excellent Sales Engineer. He is passionate about solving problems for customers and speaking to the ways our data platform can transform their businesses.
We sat down with Kelvin to learn more about his deep experience in CPG and his journey to Crisp, and learn some helpful advice for those interested in a Sales Engineering career.
Empowering brands with data
Kelvin describes his Sales Engineering role as both technical and consultative. On the technical side, he shows the Crisp platform to prospective customers and trains them on how to interact with their data inside the platform. He explains the dashboards and reporting functions, and offers suggestions on how to make the tool a regular part of their workflow.
In addition to his technical expertise, Kelvin also acts as a consultant to customers. Once they are onboarded and have added their retail data to the platform, Kelvin performs “data deep-dives” to help them uncover valuable insights. By leveraging his previous experience conducting sales analysis in-house for CPGs, Kelvin is able to help customers uncover those actionable “nuggets” that propel their businesses forward and showcase the value of Crisp’s product.
As decision makers within CPGs vary, Kelvin is accustomed to speaking with data analysts, sales managers, and CEOs alike about Crisp’s use cases – and this informs his approach.
“For some, I help them understand the applications of their data and how to use it for their business,” Kelvin explains. “Or, if they’re already really data-savvy, it’s more like ‘directing traffic’; I simply show them where to view different reports.”
Kelvin described himself well when he said that being a Sales Engineer at Crisp “is like being a conduit. A lot of information flows through you, and you have to efficiently help people get the answers they need, in a way they can understand it.”
Following his passion
When asked if he enjoys his role at Crisp, Kelvin responded with a resounding, “YES!”
Kelvin’s journey to Crisp started when he realized his passion for data within the CPG space. After years in CPG beverage sales and abrupt life changes during the pandemic, Kelvin was wholeheartedly called to make a career change into analytics.
“At Red Bull, I did a lot of meetings in bars, clubs and restaurants,” he explained. “But in terms of where I wanted to go [with my career], I could tell that data was becoming more important, and I wanted to learn more.”
Upon applying to data analytics positions, Kelvin realized he would need some additional knowledge and experience in the field.
“That began my journey of taking online courses and gaining a data analytics certification, and I was very intent on accomplishing that.”
Kelvin realized he would need to boot-strap these efforts, and he did – truly driven by his desire to transform businesses and lives with data.
“Now I’m doing what I worked to do three years ago. That’s what’s crazy. And I love my role here at Crisp!”
In terms of where I wanted to go [with my career], I could tell that data was becoming more important, and I wanted to learn more… That began my journey of taking online courses and gaining a data analytics certification.”Kelvin Brown Sr.
Across the sales universe
Part of what made Kelvin a shining Crisp candidate was his experience at Hu Chocolate where, as Sales Coordinator, he assisted four Sales Managers across the entire spectrum of the business. He also served as the company’s first ever DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion) Council Leader.
Kelvin describes his experience at Hu as having worked “all across the sales universe,” for a fast-growing brand.
While exploring the depths of this universe may sound enthralling, Kelvin admits that his sales duties often consisted of new item and vendor set-up forms, along with a heap of logistics responsibilities.
In meetings with retailers and distributors, however, Kelvin began to pick up on their desire to see more data reporting from Hu, including and especially for sales velocity rates – or, units sold per store per week. However, pulling this information together was time consuming, and it meant spending hours each day in antiquated vendor portals, trying to aggregate meaningful reports.
Eventually, Kelvin’s role and involvement in this analytics process led him and the rest of the Hu sales team into a demo with Crisp’s Customer Success Manager, Elle. (Hi Elle!)
The demo showed Kelvin everything he was hoping to see from a retail data platform. “I was in awe because I realized the hours of my week sorting through sales and inventory data could be reduced to minutes,” he exclaimed.
The company signed on, and the platform increasingly became a part of Kelvin’s role – eventually paving the way for a role at Crisp.
Hook, line, and sinker
When speaking about his current role, Kelvin reflects that his deeply involved, sometimes challenging experiences in CPG gave him the authenticity to understand and speak to customers’ challenges.
Kelvin applied to a position with Crisp as soon he saw an opening, and we were delighted to find the perfect match.
“The process moved very fast. And although I was unsure if I was the right candidate, apparently for Tony it was ‘hook, line, and sinker.’”
Tony Miller is Crisp’s Director of Sales Engineering, and like Kelvin he also has deep experience in CPG – notably in category management at Target. This helped create what Kelvin describes as a “seamless relationship.” As a manager, Kelvin appreciates Tony’s calming presence and ability to help him focus his energy and ideas toward delivering maximum value for clients.
“He’s been a great coach, and also allows me to be myself – which, let’s be real, I was always going to find a way to be,” Kelvin professes, proudly sporting his Hu Chocolate t-shirt and gold chain.
Tony and Kelvin have become a dynamic team duo at Crisp, and regularly contribute their expertise to Crisp’s Learning Center, where they apply their combined industry knowledge to pertinent topics for growing CPGs.
“Tony’s been a great coach, and also allows me to be myself – which, let’s be real, I was always going to find a way to be,” Kelvin professes, proudly sporting his Hu Chocolate t-shirt and gold chain.Kelvin Brown Sr.
Flexibility, fatherhood, and philanthropy
Kelvin also spoke to how Crisp’s remote-first work culture has benefited his personal life.
As a dedicated father, Crisp’s flexible work environment means that Kelvin can take the time to lovingly raise his two children, including his son with special needs, Kelvin Jr.
“I truly value the family-oriented culture here, and it genuinely motivates me to work harder,” Kelvin affirms. “And by ‘harder,’ I mean being fully present and delivering value every day, not by working longer hours.”
Kelvin expresses that the sense of being taken care of at work has provided him the foundation and opportunity to take care of others in his community. Outside of work and family, Kelvin also volunteers for organizations like Son of a Saint, where he serves as a mentor to boys growing up without a father and offers his camaraderie to those in need of a healthy role model.
“People talk about making the world a better place, and that starts with you,” he explains. “I’m a grown adult, it’s my time to contribute back [to my community]. I feel strongly about that.”
Advice for prospective sales engineers
While we had Kelvin on his “soapbox” as he called it, we took the opportunity to glean advice for prospective Sales Engineers looking to combine technical data skills with the world of sales. Here are his key takeaways:
Be personable: “As a Sales Engineer, it’s important that you use a product demo to make an extremely positive impression on prospective customers. Be present and personable to successfully connect and resonate with various audiences – and understand that you are helping close the deal.”
Be knowledgeable: “Bring as much knowledge to the table as you can. In addition to my 10 years of CPG experience, I took the time to become certified in data analytics, which has greatly helped me communicate the use of data for brands today,” Kelvin explains.
Work hard and be prepared: “Be prepared and organized for every call. Do your homework, and understand your client. If you can do that on top of being personable and knowledgeable, you will have the tools to succeed in this game.”
“As a Sales Engineer, it’s important that you use a product demo to make an extremely positive impression on prospective customers. Be present and personable to successfully connect and resonate with various audiences – and understand that you are helping close the deal.”Kelvin Brown Sr.
We are grateful to have Kelvin as part of our Crisp crew, and we wish him continued success as a seasoned leader at work, at home, and within his community.
Interested in working with Kelvin to power the CPG supply chain with better data? Visit our careers page here.