PLANTING THE SEEDS FOR SUCCESS
Are you looking for more business? Of course you are, everyone wants more business! There is perhaps nothing easier to sell for the holidays than food gifts. Mouth-watering chocolates, nuts, cookies and premium-smoked meats practically sell themselves. But how do you get started? One sure-fire method is doing a simple client analysis.
Start by building a list of your top clients. Begin with everyone who does over $2500.00 a year with you. Next, remove clients who do NOT have business-to-business (B to B) relationships, like schools, government agencies, retail stores, and others…you know best who they are. Our research shows that companies doing business with other companies are more likely to purchase year-end food gifts. Now you have an excellent list of clients who are perfect candidates for a year-end food gift program.
Next, let’s highlight the best prospects. These should include businesses that fall into the following categories:
- Banks, especially the smaller independent banks
- Financial service companies, including financial planners and insurance brokers
- Service companies, including temporary agencies and cleaning services
- Manufacturing companies in any sector
- Construction companies, especially trade contractors, including electrical, plumbing, heating, cement and others
- Wholesale distributors
- Professional services including CPA firms, law firms, advertising agencies and accountant firms
Guess what? You have now established your “A” List. Finally, make sure to add any client who has sent a food gift to you over the last few years. Now how simple was that?
How much time, money and effort you want to put into working this “A” List is up to you. But if you are serious about getting more business, we suggest putting a fair amount of your resources and creativity into your plan.
Remember, your biggest competitors for year-end food gifts are mail-order and internet companies like Harry & David, Godiva, and Hickory Farms. They are mailing catalogs to your clients twice a month during this time period and sending email offers to them nearly weekly. Whether you touch base with them by personal contact, telephone, email, or traditional mail depends upon how you prefer to do business, but for most distributors a combination of all four methods will work the best.
If at all possible you’ll want to hand them – not mail them – a food gift catalog, and suggest that they page through it for year-end food gift ideas. According to the many distributors, like you, that we have surveyed, this initial face-to-face contact is the number one, most effective way of getting the food gift business you are after! September and October are the best time to do this. Maple Ridge Farms offers free catalogs, just supply your UPS or Fed Ex shipper number.
So don’t delay, NOW is the time to start planting those seeds.
NETWORKING GENERATES ADDITIONAL SALES
Networking during and after business hours is proven to be an effective way to your year-end food gift business. The more people who know that you can simplify their jobs by handling all the details of their holiday food gift program, the more business you’ll write. It’s just that simple.
Do you belong to your local chamber of commerce? If you’re a woman, do you belong to any local women’s business groups? If your reply is no to either, make sure to join right away. Attend every one of their meetings and events beginning today. Maybe you can be a featured speaker at one of their monthly meetings. Your goal is to let all of these potential clients know that you are their best source for deliciously creative year-end gifts. We receive letter after letter from successful distributors who have written bonus year-end business as a result of setting up a food gift idea table at an autumn luncheon or evening networking party. If you’re able to set up a table, or better yet, a professionally detailed display, make sure to include a wide variety of display samples illustrating different packaging options and price points. Statistics show that approximately 50% of year-end business gift buyers will purchase food gifts – year in and year out – so you’ll want them to see that you are the source and obvious choice for fine food gifts.
Next, have plenty of full-line catalogs on hand. Many gift buyers like to take ideas back to the office and share them with colleagues before making a decision. So you need catalogs printed with your contact information so when they are ready to place their orders they call you. Make certain to have some premium chocolates for your newfound clients to sample while they’re at the meeting. Remember, fine chocolates wet a buyer’s appetite like nothing else! Don’t be afraid to ask for referrals! While many people you meet may not buy year-end gifts, they probably know who in their company does. With one taste of some delicious chocolate we can practically guarantee they’ll be happy to give you that all-important referral.
- Plenty of full-line catalogs printed with your contact information
- Premium chocolate samples to attract traffic and generate enthusiasm
- Wide variety of display samples showing different packaging options
- Lead tracking system so you can follow-up quickly
- A way of capturing referrals
So there you go! By concentrating on networking this fall you will be rewarded with profitable, new business. So don’t delay, NOW is the time to start networking.
Tom Riordan, President
Maple Ridge Farms