Foodservice Distributors “Get on the Truck” Strategies Part 1: Sell Their Customers

Grow sales (and margins) with foodservice channel marketing programs

Consumer marketing is the primary thing I hear when folks find out I own a marketing firm. Yes, we create and run consumer marketing programs for our food brand clients. We do a great job, but any consumer marketing program begins with a business to business (B2B) sale. NewPoint is a team of marketers who understand that volume sales in non-retail channels can increase the volume of ingredients to purchase – typically bringing pricing down as well as optimizes production whether you have a stand-alone operation or use a co-packer.

This post includes discussion points to build out a channel marketing program to support foodservice food sales.

Foodservice Sales 101: Get a distributor to carry your product

The 1st biggest obstacle may be getting a distributor to carry your products. Unless you have a unique product line, every distributor is going to carry a competitive line of products in your category. So why would the distributor consider selling your product?

Like any good partnership, one way to appeal to a distributor is to find ways to help their business – after all, you are trying to sell to their customers. Does your product better have quality or ingredients? Can you offer better pricing or terms? Or can you create custom pre-processed/fabricated or packaged lines that help solve a problem for a critical customer? Just like there are many ways to work with a distributor by focusing on their business, you can also sell directly to a restaurant. If a restaurant (hint: look for a chain) decides they need to have your product line, you either force the restaurant to buy from your current distributor or force the restaurant’s distributor to carry your product lines.

“Get on the Truck”

Image © Sysco Foods

True story. Luke was a fresh pork salesman for a midwest pork processor. He wanted one thing: to get a major foodservice distributor to carry his company’s products. Once the distributor carries his product lines, he knows his product will be “on the truck,” and the distributor will sell it to all their customers.

Knowing that size and scale matter in bulk purchases, Luke called on all the chain restaurants he could find – from small to big – no chain was safe from Luke’s full-court press of emails, phone calls and, drop-ins.  After several attempts, he finally got a meeting with an established, well-respected award-winning small BBQ chain in Indianapolis. After several meetings, sampling and pricing discussion, the chain made the move to be Luke’s client…and forced the distributor to carry Luke’s company pork products.

Foodservice “Get On The Truck” Strategies Part 2…is coming

We’ll discuss other proven foodservice channel marketing strategies and tactics in upcoming posts, so stay tuned!

If you have any questions or would like to learn more about how to grow sales and margins in new channels like foodservice, please reach out to the NewPoint team. If you are interested in more food marketing topics, please visit our Food for Thought page or check out my book: Moving Your Brand Up the Food Chain.