leading the way to results for fresh food marketing

From the Editor

By Jennifer Lawson
From the Editor
With the outbreak and uncertainty of COVID-19, we elected to postpone our March edition of thePATH. Our issue had a focus on the upcoming produce industry tradeshows and tips to make the most of your visit. As we received notification of concerns and cancellations, we chose to pause and regroup.
As we watched the past 10 days unfold, the craziness, the unimaginable…we know that many of our readers are on the front lines. Thank you. We know you are beyond busy and dealing with stress and urgency. Thank you.
To retailers, and those working to get product into the stores: Please know our thoughts, prayers, and empathy are with you. Make time to take care of yourself. We hear stores are shortening hours—go home, find an activity that helps you destress, be there for your family, and energize for the next day. If you need assistance or support, reach out to FreshXperts or other industry colleagues.
To others in the industry: Read Ron Pelger’s FreshXpertise article this month focuses on calling on retailers. Reach out and encourage your local retailers and produce managers.
For the upcoming April issue, we’d like to share some of your thoughts and experiences from this crisis.
  • What have your learned about yourself and team?
  • What new practices should be kept?
  • What adjustments and changes had to be made?
  • How important was established relationships in the supply chain?
  • Were there gaps in staff training?
  • What changes were made to department merchandising, displays, sets?
Drop us an email or post on our Facebook page.

by Ron Pelger

10 Guidelines for Calling on Retailers

How do produce decision makers and buyers perceive sales reps?

The buying power of major retailers today is stronger than ever before. The same old ways of selling won't work anymore. Most of those time-worn formats will simply bore a produce director in 2020. It's time to change old methods to new.

What levels of trust do retails have with suppliers?

There are four levels that most retail decision makers have trust in when dealing with companies wanting to sell to them. It all starts from the bottom with low trust and moves up to the highest level of trust.

The Street Vendor — Onetime purchase to fill in daily store orders. Low level of trust.
The Wholesale Supplier — On and off non-scheduled purchasing. Basically, they manage to get in the address book. Fair amount of trust.
The Distributor — Repeat purchasing. Medium level of trust.
The Partnership Supplier — Regular ongoing purchases. Working together in a "Partners in Growth" program. High level of trust.

Do you have a sales department with reps that call on retailers?

Which are your top performers? Who always seems to surpass their budgeted sales quotas? Who sells the most product for you?

Why do your top two or three sales reps outpace the rest of the sales team and generally deliver the most orders for the company year after year? Why does your bottom level sales rep always fail to meet their quotas?  

The simple answer to those questions is because 2020 is a different sales environment. Sales reps of other companies are far more competitive today and the retail buying operators are a whole lot tenacious.

Here are 10 rules for calling on retailers:
Make an Advance Contact — Send samples with a short introduction.
Set an Appointment — Call and keep calling. It takes time, but keep doing it.
Be Prepared — Do your homework. Plan your strategy. Know your product.
Easy on the Material — Don't overwhelm with brochures and a bunch of papers.
Focus on Selling — Stick with the product and a programs for the retailer.
Never be Overpowering — No more than two sales reps. Speak up but do not shout.
Speak Properly — Don't ramble. No "uh" - "umm" - "you know" etc.
Dress for Success — Be clean, fresh, neat. No loud shirts or mobster sunglasses.
Be On Time — Being late is a bad impression. Be in the lobby an hour before.
Don't Brag or Criticize  — Prevent over-boasting. Avoid knocking your competition.

Always sell retailers more than just the product. Offer them a program that will help generate volume sales. The program can be in the form of a cost discount if they reach a certain quota level. It could be some free corrugated designer bins for merchandising impulse sales. Even some cool styles of signage to accommodate the product is attractive. Any type of tools that will aid in moving more product is always beneficial to the retailer. 

Once a sales rep finally reaches a produce director or buyer by phone, they should express thanks and schedule a meeting. Do not try to sell over the phone. Always meet "face-to-face."

Never ask, "When can we meet?" The sales rep should always offer the buyer an odd time to meet such as 10:15, 1:45, 3:20. Those times sends the message that the rep is productive and dependable.

At FreshXperts, we have the expertise of having been retail decision makers. We sat in meetings and met with sales reps across the table. Our buying methods and negotiating experiences are something we teach company sales department employees. We can instantly develop salespeople to move up to improved up-to-date methods to call on retailers.

Share with the Xperts

Facebook Group: Produce Pros
If you are or have been on the front lines in the produce department, visit Anthony Totta's Facebook Group, Produce Pros.
It's a place where produce displays are shared and members encourage one another.
Thanks to those who've taken the time to share their experiences during this COVID-19 time.

FreshXperts is a consortium of consultants in the fresh industry. 
Experts in all aspects of the fresh industry–from Farm to Fork
Growers - Retailers - Distributors
Logistics - Foodservice -
Start Ups & New Ventures

For more information about our member FreshXperts, visit our team page
Anthony Totta: CEO; Business and Brand Development Specialist
Tim Vaux: Executive Leadership Specialist
Eric Bosveld: M&A; Agro-Economics Specialist
Phil Pisciotta: Local and Wholesale Distribution Specialist
Ron Pelger: Retail Operations Specialist
Jennifer Lawson: Administration, Information Design
Paul Grothe: Foodservice Procurement Specialist
Nick Pasculli: PR & Marketing
Alan Podufaly: Operations; QC
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