Rethink foodservice sales training

Preparing sales pros along the foodservice chain hasn’t changed much in the last 20 years.

Corporate reps plow through a PowerPoint with brokers who try hard to focus on the lecture while knowing they face yet another grueling session with another brand next week.

A month later, the brokers turnaround and hustle through the product presentation to a distracted audience of DSRs who are more concerned about making their quota than listening to the seventh pitch during the Friday sales meeting.

Each step in the chain is designed with great intentions. But the old model of “let’s get in a room and learn for a day” is outmoded, ineffective and extremely expensive.

The information flood and pace of change means “just-in-time” training is the new reality if you want to gain fanatical sales support for that new line of Sriracha-flavored smoothie mixes:

  • Make it available. Most sales reps learn what they need at the moment they need it. Make it easy for them to self-educate — either through your sales intranet or mobile app — where they are confident they can find a quick “show and tell” lesson.
  • Make it efficient. Many reps are more social in nature, so it’s an unnatural act to expect them to self-educate by reading a sell sheet.  Let them see another human presenting the facts and stories about your smoothie mix through a video… you’ll create a better connection with them to remember the info.
  • Make it convenient. Sales reps have little control over their schedules.  Post lessons online as short 90-second to 2-minute videos they can watch at their convenience when they can provide their undivided attention.
  • Make it consistent. Offer one short lesson on one product or topic on the same day each week versus sending everything at once.  A steady flow of continuous learning is the fastest, most-effective way to build a breadth of knowledge.
  • Make it rewarding. A simple monthly cash drawing.  Gift cards for the team with the highest scores.  Simple small motivators go a long way to make product training a pleasure versus a perceived burden.

Next week:  Simple systems to deliver training that are inexpensive and measurable. 

Considerations for October

  • January and February is all about football.  Now is the time to prepare ideas on how operators can use your products to leverage Super Bowl season.
  • Including a photo of what your product case looks like is invaluable to customers.  Don’t forget, we’ll provide a free high-def image of your case when we produce your video.