To pitch or not to pitch… THAT is the essential sales question for food, beverage and taxable grocery brands during the months of October, November and December. We all know that the fourth quarter can be a season of high revenue for retailers and brands alike, but also understand that most wholesale buyers put a hard stop to bringing in new products once they’re sleeves are rolled up and heads down during the busy holiday season.
As a brand with limited time, money, and energy, what should you focus on during this time? If you’re itching to pursue more shelves during this season, use my five effective strategies for landing new accounts and executing your last chance pitch this month.
1. Evaluate your product’s relevance for the holiday season before pitching
When it comes to gearing up for a busy sales season like the holidays, you’ve got to ask yourself: does your product scream festive cheer or year round staple? Seasonal relevance can greatly influence the success rate of a pitch to potential new accounts.
At times you might feel that throwing in a red bow or adding a festive slogan to your product can be enough to make it seasonally relevant. However, buyers – just like any other consumer – can distinguish when a product is truly suitable for the holiday season from when it is not. For example, a cold brew coffee may struggle finding the spotlight next to a local eggnog in the fridge, while a beautifully packaged,750mL of sparkling tea might just hit the sweet spot for holiday tables. Remember, if it feels like a stretch to convince yourself that your product is truly holiday-related, it’s likely going to feel like a stretch for the buyer as well.
Assessing your product’s relevance for the holiday season before pitching protects you from disappointing sales figures and potential long-term reputational damage in the eyes of a buyer. Launching your product on a new shelf during a time when it’s not in demand not only negatively impacts your overall sales, but also can create a negative perception about your brand or product; the buyer sees your slow sales, makes a snap judgment, and doesn’t give you a second chance. By understanding where your product fits, whether it be on festive holiday shelves or perhaps waiting until the New Year, you give your product the best chance of success. After all, every product has a season. It’s just a matter of finding it.
If you’re convinced that you ARE truly needed during this season, proceed to step 2. If not, then skip ahead to step 5 below!
2. Craft a holiday-centric pitch highlighting your product’s seasonal utility
If your offerings naturally sync up with the season, you’ve got a real opportunity to shine. It’s not just about having a stellar product; it’s about showing your potential buyer how seamlessly it fits into their holiday sales strategy.
More than any other time of year, buyers are looking for products that resonate with the holiday spirit. Whether wrapped up as a gift, a cocktail party essential or highlighted as a key component to a festive dinner, your product should imbibe the holiday spirit. This alignment of product, pitch, and the season is key to your chances of success in this quickly narrowing window of opportunity!
In the pitch,paint a vivid picture of how your product can drive high sales during the festive season. If you’re pitching a craft beer, don’t just highlight its unique flavor and craftsmanship. Instead, talk about how it increases the basket average of the store when cross-merchandised next to the cocktail snacks. If your product comes in holiday-themed packaging or can be positioned as a stocking stuffer, make sure to highlight how well it does on a themed display, or how it’s perfect at the point-of-sale.
Once you know WHAT role your product serves on those holiday shelves, you can sweeten the deal during your sales pitch.
3. Convey the ease of collaborating with your brand and offer promotional deals
The holiday season can be hectic and stressful for many businesses, particularly for those working in retail. Acknowledging this directly and tailoring your approach to the wholesale buyers’ reality can give you an edge when reaching out to potential new accounts. Any pitches made during Q4 should place an emphasis on demonstrating your ease of collaboration! Highlighting this aspect in a pitch can reassure prospective wholesale buyers that onboarding your product will be a smooth and hassle-free experience, despite everything else they have going on during the seasonal rush.
What else works during this busy season? Offering promotional deals and additional margin captures the attention and interest of potential new accounts. Everyone appreciates added value, and these kinds of time-sensitive offers can serve as a strong motivator for wholesale buyers who are on the fence about taking on a new product during a busy period. What can you offer them to make your sales pitch even more compelling? Ease, a promo offer and empathy go a long way during this season!
4. Develop and practice a tailored holiday season pitch script
Before you just go out and start pitching tomorrow, take a moment to draft out a pitch script that is tailored specifically to this season. This updated script should outline what we’ve covered here, accurately conveying your product’s seasonality, with notable call outs of any specials or deals that might entice potential buyers.
Remember, during this busy time of year, buyers are under immense pressure and, consequently, have limited time available. Ensure your pitch is straightforward and quick to capture their attention. Time is running out for landing on new shelves this year, so craft that script and start pitching, now through the next few weeks.
What happens as we turn towards November? We pause.
5. Pause non-seasonal product pitching and prepare for the New Year
As we get closer to the holidays, buyers simply pause on new products for their shelves. Once we get into November, all bets are off. What happens then? You pause. This pause can be used to strategize for the upcoming year, and refine your pitches for January, once buyers are considering new products again.
By holding off on pitching non-seasonal products during the holidays, and pausing outright come November, you can focus on gearing up for the coming year. Plus, it’s a strategy that helps you make the most of your resources, ensuring you drop your fully-prepared, thoughtful product pitches right when it counts (in January!).
Timing is everything in retail. Use the next few weeks for your last chance pitches, and then pause, focusing on nurturing your existing accounts through this season, and prepping for your January sales push once we’re past the holidays!
To hear more about the ins and outs of the Fourth Quarter in retail, find Alli’s Fourth Quarter Focus Mini Series on the Food Biz Wiz podcast, episodes 215- 219, right here.