Foodservices Sales and Marketing

Sales activation

By Anne Wright, Commercial Director, FusionFSM 

Sales activation is key to ensuring the success of a product in the foodservice sector, but there are a multitude of challenges to consider, from account and credit processes, accreditations, and allergens, to serving methods, deadlines, competitors, point of sale (POS), pack size and formats, product specifications, support, and shelf life.


However, as there are a multitude of challenges, there are also a multitude of opportunities.


For example, can you provide an alternative to competitor brands that’s more convenient, sustainable, locally produced or just better? Is it competitively priced, are there lower minimum order quantities, can you offer more range, better terms, route to market (RTM) options, pricing, brand awareness, or stock availability?


With our specialist sector knowledge, we can support with overcoming challenges and identifying the opportunities to ensure the success of a product’s launch into the foodservice sector. However, that is just the beginning of getting your sales activation right. Here are our top tips:


1. Targeted marketing strategies


Develop focused marketing strategies tailored to the foodservice market and the sector that you are targeting. Identify specific sectors within the market, such as pubs, restaurants, hotels, contract catering, or healthcare and education, and customise your approach to address their needs and preferences.


You need to know your target sector in detail by employing people with foodservice experience and the right contacts.


Look at what your competitors do well and think about how you can do better. The competitor may not have the full solution, just the product that meets the needs of the operator ‘well enough’.


Spend time with operators and the RTM developing products that are right for the market. Do not expect the market to fit to the product you are already producing for retail.


Timing of activation is fundamental – is the product seasonal? Are you trying to launch at a time when the sector is preparing to close for their holidays or are hitting peak season with no time to look at new products?


2. Offer customised solutions


Instead of a one-size-fits-all approach, provide customised solutions based on the individual requirements of each foodservice sector and business. Understand their menus, volume needs, and operational constraints to tailor your offerings effectively.


Knowledge of the foodservice market is essential. It is usually the simple things, like a chef will usually want larger pack sizes to save opening lots of small packages, for example. 


Feedback from valued customers is also very important so attending customer training days or on-site trials is a huge benefit. Getting feedback from chefs on the day-to-day challenges and practicalities can offer a different perspective from that of a buyer, as can the wholesaler’s sales team, and even facilitate the RTM.


For example, healthcare patient feeding differs from staff and visitor feeding, which differs from vending, that again differs from what is required by hospitality. Understand the need for different price points, pack sizes and, in some instances, ingredients.


Hospitals will work to different guidelines and restrictions in comparison with what a pub could sell, for instance. You need to provide the sales literature and support that is most relevant to each sector such as fortification recipes for care, or sustainability details.


For some sectors it may be beneficial to invest less in ‘nice to have’ things like POS or merchandise and focus more on delivering a cost saving to the operator, while for others, POS and merchandise can be essential to drive through sales, for example ice cream vendors with their signs, flags, menus and table talkers.


3. Provide demonstrations or trials


Allow potential customers to experience your products or services first-hand. Offering product demonstrations or trial periods can build confidence and showcase the value of your offering, helping to secure their commitment.


For me, there are many ways of ensuring that you get your brands into the hands of the right person (be aware that this is not always the buyer):

 Personal, face to face visits

 Factory inductions, training and development days

 National and regional trade shows

 Via the operator’s wholesale account manager

 Targeted sampling delivered to their door

 Attending wholesaler sales meetings to create a demand within the sales team

 Introductory emails

 Customer training days where you can speak to chefs and catering managers directly and the buyer or operations managers can get direct feedback from their teams

 Offering free site trials to target customers

 Focus weeks and ‘Ra Ra days’ (sales drives within the wholesaler depots with set targets and incentives)

 Supplier visits to operators

 Targeted online advertising on wholesalers’ websites and apps

 Wholesaler brochure adverts

 Trade press adverts and features


4. Streamline ordering processes


Simplify the ordering and procurement process for your customers. Implement user-friendly online platforms, efficient delivery systems, and clear communication channels to make it easy for foodservice businesses to engage with your company.


5. Build trust through transparency


Establish trust by being transparent about your products, pricing, and terms. Clearly communicate the quality standards, sourcing practices, and any certifications your products have. There is nothing wrong with focusing on the ‘good’ but be transparent about a potential ‘downside’ to a product and have a solution to offer.


Your reputation is everything in this industry and being transparent about your products, company values and policies is key to customers making an informed decision. If you are making claims, you must be prepared to back those claims with proof. Be realistic and focus on the most relevant benefits for that customer. A transparent approach fosters credibility and long-term relationships in the foodservice industry.


If you’d like to chat through any of this, just drop me a line at


Anne Wright, Commercial Director, FusionFSM



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