The client is a very large foodservices distributor selling a broad range of dry and frozen food and related products to thousands of commercial customers- hotels, restaurants, fast food outlets, cafes and hospitals.
The company has a sales force of 300+ field sales and telesales operators selling to and taking orders from this diverse customer base.
While the company is very strong in sales of dry and frozen foods to its very large committed customer base, it has never succeeded in selling frozen fish and fish products to these customers, despite repeated efforts to do.
Our brief was:
During interviews with internal staff we discovered that sales staff doubted the quality of the Company’s fish offer from past bad experiences and doubted their own ability to sell effectively against specialist frozen fish distributors. So, with a product range of hundreds of lines to sell, frozen fish got very little attention.
Further, interviews with end customers suggested there were no real barriers to buying frozen fish from our client other than lack of awareness that the product was on offer and a general lack of effort from the sales team to sell them fish.
Finally, our internal research indicated that the frozen fish offer was a very competitive one in terms of product range, quality and pricing.
Our solution was in three parts:
We worked with the Company to develop a small number of unique frozen fish-based products that competitors didn’t have. And we developed a strong pricing proposition on key volume frozen fish product lines.
We mounted a B2B marketing program directed at food service customers telling them about our fish product range and the unique products in particular.
We developed sales aids and training that showed the sales team how to sell seafood effectively and built their confidence/ability to sell it. And we built a national sales incentive programme that pitted 42 sales branches around the country against one another to win special branch-based awards.
Over the 12-week pre-Easter selling period, frozen fish sales increased by 35% in volume and 42% in value.
The market perceptions of the client as a credible supplier of frozen fish changed fundamentally and the sales-team’s confidence, ability and willingness to sell frozen fish increased out of sight.
In the following 12 months sales period, frozen fish sales increased more than 30% over the prior 12-month period, so the sales gains were embedded.