Telephone game of foodservice product training

Remember playing the telephone game when you were a kid?

The first student whispers a word to another person sitting nearby.  Then the second person relays the word to the next… and so on.  After a long line of whispers, the final person in line announces what they heard which, inevitably, isn’t even close to the original word.  Thunderous laughter ensues!

Well, the telephone game describes perfectly how foodservice product messages filter down through the sales channel.  Product managers tell their corporate sales reps… who whisper to their broker companies… who tell their broker reps… who then tell the distributor buyer… who then mentions to a DSR passing in the hall. Odds are most the key features and benefits are homogenized to “yeah, there’s some new flavored chicken breast that came in.”

Rarely do many food pros chuckle at the end of this exercise!

Fortunately, you can create a “direct line” to the last person in the audience… and actually get them to pay attention:

  • Create a short online video training. Not just a video, but posted in a simple system like that actually tracks whether they’re paying attention with a quiz.  And, of course, make it short.  The entire exercise should take less than three or four minutes.
  • Include an incentive. Either a small individual reward (like a gas card) for participants… or a drawing for a bigger prize that’s offered among a sales group.
  • Make it fun. Randomize the quiz questions to make it a harder to “share the test” with buddies.  Also, include some “Easter eggs”… a cheeky, arcane fact or “secret word” mentioned in the video that only participants who really watched will remember.

Fun, short and interactive training is the most cost-effective way to ensure your product message isn’t disconnected as it is broadcast down the sales channel.

 Considerations for January Planning

  • May is for National Hospital Week and National Nursing Home Week (both May 10-16). Great time to provide some ideas to these major non-commercial segments.
  • How about preparing some special recipes to “end the school year”… rather than going with the crowd that provides ideas at the beginning of school season?