December 7, 2016
Starting out in the food business can be intimidating, especially when you have to go up against household name brands to score a space on grocery store shelves without the help of a product broker. But, if you do manage to land a pitch meeting with a grocery store chain, make sure you go above and beyond to prepare for it. What do you need to bring with you on the big day? Don’t forget these items:
Of course, buyers will want to try your food product as you pitch, so it’s imperative you bring samples to the meeting. Make sure you are bringing samples that are still packaged so the buyers can also see your packaging. This will help them determine whether it will be a good fit for their stores, how much space it will take up, and how it needs to be displayed.
A sales sheet provides buyers will all the information they need to know about your product. Why do you need to bring this if you’ll be there in person? There’s no way of knowing how many brands buyers are meeting with before and after you, but chances are it’s a lot. After you leave, they may not remember the exact pricing on your product or what you said about it being made in the USA. But, a sales sheet can help answer their questions long after you have left the meeting.
Retailers will want to know that you are planning to launch marketing efforts to support your presence in their stores. If you have a formal marketing plan, bring it with you so they can browse through it. Or, add a few slides to your presentation that discuss how you will market your product once you are on their shelves. Doing this will show buyers you are truly interested in a partnership, not just a standard supplier-retailer relationship.
After your pitch is over, be prepared for buyers to have a lot of questions about your financial resources, inventory, and sales. If you have a product that comes in multiple flavors or sizes, you should know off of the top of your head which size or flavor sells more than the others. Buyers will also want to know total sales, how much you have sold in the last few months, and margins. If you stumble over these numbers, you won’t come off as prepared, so quiz yourself over and over again prior to the meeting.
You should never go to a business meeting without business cards, so make sure you bring a stack with you to your pitch. Leave a few cards behind along with your sales sheet so buyers have everything they need to get in touch with you after the meeting is over. Make sure you take a few business cards of theirs as well so you can get their direct contact information if you don’t already have it.
Remember, first impressions are the most lasting. If you go into a pitch meeting unprepared, it’s unlikely those buyers will look at you or your brand positively.
Joel Goldstein is the President of Mr. Checkout Distributors, a network of 1,000 distributors around the country seeking new and innovative products for their convenience stores, grocery stores and truck stops. Since 1989 Mr. Checkout has helped grow national brands like 5 Hour Energy and Pepperidge Farm using their DSD (Direct Store Delivery) network. If you have a product that they should see, you can submit your product for review here.
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