By Claudia Nicolaou, Business Development/Sales
It is one thing to get your product IN the retailer’s stores; it is another to actually have sales and continue receiving orders from the retailer to keep it on the shelf!
Marketing and Sales are just like getting dressed to perform to your best ability every day. When you dress for success you are successful…when you have a positive attitude you have positive results…when you are PASSIONATE about what you do and how you do it, everyone around you is passionate with you!
Marketing is not just statistics. Marketing is the most important tool you have to sell besides yourself! The sales representative gives the TOOL the life it needs to sell and place the product. The Marketing is the sales assistant in the initial presentation with the buyer, the Point of Sale or Brochure used and left behind, the Power Point used to explain the ‘what, where, when and how’ information the buyer needs if he/she decides to place the item. PLUS the Marketing is what keeps the sales coming in: the assistance the retailer needs to sell the product AFTER it has been placed on the shelf by creating the promotions, the Press Releases, the advertising in magazines, television and social media. ALL of these items are needed to place your product on the shelf and keep it there. Your customer is counting on your partnership to assist THEM in selling your product on THEIR shelf, and you don’t always have to do this by reducing the prices to sell more. Your Marketing Materials you have created and your constant use of them will do that for you.
As a sales representative of multiple lines (products) you are given 15 minutes for your appointment to make a lasting impression on the buyer/category manager of your product/company. Why? Because that is respectful of THEIR time. You are to give your presentation and then listen to and answer any and all questions from the buyer. If the appointment lasts longer than the 15 minutes it is not because of YOU it is because the BUYER has done so. In this appointment everything is to match. What do I mean, “match”? YOU are to look professional and CARE about your appearance, YOU are to know anything and everything about your product you are presenting, and if you don’t know the answer to a question, BE AUTHENTIC and truthful that you don’t know. YOU should be passionate and authentically believe in your product, and lastly- this is what ties everything together- your label on your product, your Point of Sale Materials or the Power Point presentation you are leaving behind should be just as professional as you and your presentation. It brings everything full circle, and it shows the buyer/category manager that you and the company you are representing are genuinely INVESTED in this product and your partnership with them. Appearances are everything!
To show my point, this is an actual story of one of my appointments….
I was representing a small California Extra Virgin Olive Oil Company as their Sales Manager. When I started with this company they had approval from a very large retailer with 200+ stores to go after 12 “local” stores and sell the oil to the store manager. I was given the list, the oil, and was told to bake fresh bread and cut into cubes for the tasting each time. This company had already invested into me the education and training about California EVOO and a REAL EVOO, etc. They gave me business cards and our website information and sent me on my way. I had the PASSION for this product in the bag! I was extremely knowledgeable about the product and company and I knew how to sell…that was the easy part. After selling all 12 local stores, I then called the corporate headquarters and asked for an appointment to meet with the EVOO category manager. I also turned to Marketing Plus to create some Marketing Materials for me. They created for me what ended up being an award-winning folder. The importance of this particular folder to my EVOO company was HUGE and tied together everything I stated in the beginning of this blog.
I walked in, introduced myself, gave the “flight” tasting. I explained in detail the essence of each olive and the blends we had created in each bottle. I shared the success I had in each of the 12 stores etc….15 minutes. As the appointment went on the buyer asked many questions, making the appointment last longer than 15 minutes. We enjoyed our conversation for about 45 minutes, about how we both loved the EVOO category and what California is doing, etc. This sounds like it was an easy call/appointment. It actually was one of the hardest ones I had ever done. In the end, he paused (I still had no idea if I was in or out at this point). He looked at me and said, “This is what I am going to do. Because your presentation was informative, you were knowledgeable about your oils, these bottles are beautiful and the oil is fantastic, I am going to place you in ALL of our specialty upscale, plus this, this and this store (I am leaving the names out). BUT the reason I am doing this is not only because your product is amazing, it is because YOUR enthusiasm for this company and THIS folder (and he literally picked up the folder) tells me your company really cares about who they are and what they do, and that matches our company philosophy as well.” WOW!!!!
He went on to ask how we would assist him with sales once the product hit the stores. I informed him of all the media we were doing as a company, plus what the Food Network was doing for California EVOO as well (not paid for by us but media marketing either way), plus the shelf talkers and display units we had for them to place the oil in the produce department as well as the center aisles. We also would pay for in-store tasting demos, Marketing Materials with recipe cards, etc.
ALL of these items comprise your Marketing Materials needed to place and sell your product.
Since my days as Director of Sales and Marketing for a corporation, to working on my own as an Independent Sales Representative, I have had Marketing Plus and their team provide me with EVERYTHING I needed to build the Brand I represent. From the days of a small budget and literally a single page Point of Sale sheet and the simple 10×10 trade show booth creation, all the way to Trade Show Management, Press Releases, and Graphic Design for the Labels, Website Design, Power Point presentations and Corporate Folders, Julie and her team have literally helped me sell every step of the way and this is why I am now a part of THEIR team!!