Should sales reps tell foodservice marketers what to do?

The common miscommunication between foodservice marketing folks and their respective sales teams was perhaps best summed up by the CEO of a large frozen product company who once told me… “Marketing is all about tomorrow — but it’s all about today for sales people.”

In other words, marketing focuses on how to attract customers in the future… and sales must lock the customers down NOW! The timing of each function’s priorities don’t naturally align which explains why the marketplace hand-off between marketing and sales is often fumbled.

Many of the blog posts here focus on how marketing can reach out more effectively to corporate reps, brokers and DSRs.  But what can sales pros do to help marketing?

  • Got brand? Do the products you sell come with a brand name that operators instantly recognize?  Achieving broad product name recognition is hard to achieve — and actually pretty rare.  Ongoing company mergers and acquisitions, success of private labels and a general reduction in marketing are making it even more difficult to maintain brand recognition.  Help build the brand by providing marketing with specific ideas, examples or operator comments on the value of your stable brand. Maybe it’s a story on how an operator increased dessert orders by 10% by adding a new item.  Or another customer compared your brand with Brand X and found your product provided a much higher yield.  Sharing these examples through social media, presentations and sales materials provide low-cost, high-value brand building.
  • All marketing is local. What’s important in your region may be last on the list in other areas.  This means marketing often gravitates to generic language because most foodservice manufacturers are unwilling to support true local-market programs.  So, the next best solution is to work closely with marketing to develop toolkits and/or guidelines on how you can modify programs and promotions to meet your needs at the local level.  The upside:  you get closer to what you need.  Downside:  you add to your workload.
  • The best offense is training. The best sales people I know also happen to be naturally gifted marketers.  They know how to politely ask probing questions of operators to gain insights often missed by traditional research efforts.  They see trends earlier than most as they work across a market.  Sales reps quickly separate marketing BS from reality to limit the number of “no’s” they receive from customers.  Use this knowledge to help educate the marketing team.  Heck, invite them along on sales calls where they can see operators in their natural habitat.  It will be an eye-opening experience that will help align marketing more closely with sales.

Planning Considerations for February

  • Include a quick scene of the product case in your video… along with a person’s hand to provide a relative comparison of the case size.  This is an important image for operators who must decide if your product can even be stocked on their cramped shelves.
  • Make your videos easily downloadable for brokers and DSRs so they can save to their laptop, tablet or phone.  It’s the easiest way to get more use for your videos if reps don’t have to surf the web to find your content while on a sales call!