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Lackluster Sales

chefamychefamy subscriber Posts: 2
edited September 2008 in Sales
My company is struggling with sales.  We constantly do `sales meetings` and calls to no avail.  Our product, savory cheesecake, is one of those you have to try it to get it.  Almost everyone that tries it loves it but no one orders (wholesale).  How do I get over this hump?  One thing is that I deal with a lot of chef egos and even if they don`t make a savory cheesecake they don`t want to order one in and have it not be their idea.  We have some retail success but nothing that is helping with our debt load.  Are we not being persistent enough?  Is there some way to closing the deal that I don`t know?  At this point I am so frustrated and lost and I am having a hard time seeing a way out. 
My website is www.savorysecret.biz for those that would like to check it and give some feedback.  Maybe it is in marketing not sales that I need the help.


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    chefamychefamy subscriber Posts: 2
    Shipping is always an issue, especially with a pershible.  We have to overnight our orders which in my opinio is why we have almost no web sales.  We actually focus mostly on wholesale accounts for our sales due to this.  Any thoughts or ideas as to how to get past this?
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    bertbert subscriber Posts: 12
    We have worked with a couple of other companies that sold cheesecakes.  They offer 3-5 day delivery for free (FedEx or UPS ground).  They sell a bunch of cakes on the web.  I believe they use an insulated box with a cold pack or dry ice to help the product make the trip.  They also offer an upgraded shipping service at $15 for overnight.  The fact that they have free shipping standard helps break the ice for web shopper.  It gets them to the point of ordering even though most end up using overnight because they cannot wait.  Many times people like to know there is a free way to get something even though they may not use it.
    I guess the real question is - how perishable is your product?  Are there ways to package it for storage and longer shipping times?  It seems like if you would like to sell it wholesale in larger quantities that you will need to come up with a way for your product to last longer in its container.  This would open the door to lower cost or free shipping for web sales in addition to large wholesale sales.
    At least these are my thoughts.
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    chefamychefamy subscriber Posts: 2
    Thanks for all the tips and advice.  95% of our focus is wholesale, we are in a few Whole Foods in TN and Neiman Marcus.com and a few wineries in the VA area.  As for the lackluster sales it is in wholesale that I am concerned.  We do demos and presentations to companies (retail and restaurants and hotels) weekly with few actually getting on board, even though the entire time we present they are devouring the cheese and saying it is the best they have ever had. 
    I guess my real question is how to get past this with wholesale.
    Thank you so much for the website tips - it is really a can`t see the forest for the trees and I need some outside eyes and ears.
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    paulsinghpaulsingh subscriber Posts: 0
    I`m curious: have you surveyed the prospects that turned you down to understand *exactly* why they didn`t purchase?
    Without knowing the details, I`d be curious how you`re actually pricing the wholesale deals -- my initial guess for why you`re having trouble selling wholesale would be that the customers don`t see how they`re going to make their desired margins if they resell the product.
    Good to see a fellow Virginian -- I`d be happy to brainstorm offline as well.
    This might be a longshot, but many of the major grocery stores are members of the local chambers of commerce. (I`ve seen a few of their reps at events for Fairfax and Loudoun County.) If you`ve got the time and energy, it might be worth attending a few of those events and seeing if you can cozy up to the corporate reps -- they might be able to get you in touch with the decision makers as well.
    Good Luck!
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    chefamychefamy subscriber Posts: 2
    Thanks Paul,
    Here is a typical scenario for us:
    Set up meeting with Hotel Chef, go in and do tasting, they love it, please get back to them so they can order, call-leave messgae, call-leave message, email, call , call, email, call-answer "oh yes I remember your product it is great can you email me the info again I have lost it". and on and on and on
    If it was a blatent brush off that would be one thing but over and over again it is a I love it but the only time I will answer is when you call with free samples.
    We have pretty decent margins especially for hotels and leave room for grocers as well.
    Although it is not a cheap product so it is certainly not for every store. 
    I am not quite a Virginian, we are in the process of moving for my husbands job, but my manufacturing will remain in TN.
    Once again thanks to all for the tips and help.  Maybe together we can figure this all out.
    I am working on making changes to the website and our approach in general, less focus on cheesecake and more on it being a new sensation in cheese.
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    paulsinghpaulsingh subscriber Posts: 0
    Thanks for the extra information -- Ben Franklin once said "the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results."
    If the wholesale pitches aren`t going anywhere, it`s time to take a good, hard, objective look at your options. Could you try focusing your efforts elsewhere with better results? Perhaps selling them to small, local coffee shops or even bookstores that sell small snacks?
    Additionally, you may want to re-assess your supply chain and determine if you can drive your production costs down further. This certainly isn`t rocket science, but it`s all too common that entrepreneurs spend more time pricing the product than they spend on actually reducing the cost to produce it.
    If you`d like, feel free to email me at paul@resultsjunkies.com and let`s talk in private about where the prices currently are, what the margins look like and what your sales pitch looks like. I`m sure we can pull some ideas together on how to move forward.
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    chefamychefamy subscriber Posts: 2
    I am so thrilled that you like the `tag line`.  I have agonized over it and it hit me in the shower.  I put it out there hoping for some feedback and not expecting it to go over well but so far many more people have liked it, especially those that never liked cheesecake.
    Success = Passion, Patience, Persistence!  -working so hard on the patience
    I will be in touch, I am taking the rest of the weekend off with my family and will get back on it on Mon.
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    RosannaTusseyRosannaTussey subscriber Posts: 4
    A substantial part of our business is wholesale also.  (We do retail also.)  I have noticed the same trend for wholesale. It was really frustrating at first, but once I started a monthly wholesale promotion, it picked up quickly.  People love feeling like they are getting something for free, and the same holds true for wholesale buyers.  The best part is it doesn`t have to be much to be really effective.
    Our most popular promotion cost me under $2 in giveaways per order and brought in thousands.
    Hope that helps!
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    chefamychefamy subscriber Posts: 2
    Thanks for the reassurances that we are not alone in this struggle.
    I hear that it is just they way it works, but I for one am ready for a change.
    I will see what ideas we can come up with for incentives/promotions.
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    chefamychefamy subscriber Posts: 2
    Thanks guys!
    So this morning Whole Foods put in an order to bring our product in to the distribution center covering the south and Florida - needless to say it is our largest order to date.
    I am taking all the advice to heart and making drastic changes - where were your guys 2 years ago?  Just kidding I knew it all then.
    Envymike - I have lost my web guy and have been teaching myself how to make the changes in the meantime, it is a long tedious process but at least some things have improved.  What are the following - rss? link backs?  I am NOT a web person at all!!
    Hey Dip Lady that is so funny that you suggest that particular show - we did a similar show in DC 2 months after starting our business and had a horrible time - no one bought and we had product everywhere and had to drive back to TN with just as much as we went to DC with.  We swore off public shows for a while.  Do you sell yours as shelf stable?  We tend to have trouble with it being perishable.
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    chefamychefamy subscriber Posts: 2
    WOW, you are busy!
    We have gotten in front of a lot of these types of people, however I was not aware that Harry & David had retail locations. 
    I am going to do research and see what I can come up with.
    I will email you tomorrow, I have to get new packaging ordered today so I can fill holiday orders.
    Thanks so much!!!!
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    SkipAndersonSkipAnderson subscriber Posts: 1
    Hi ChefAmy, I just read this entire thread. I have a couple thoughts I`d like to share:
    1. The tagline ideas are great. BUT, it`s important to understand that taglines help you get attention, they don`t close face-to-face business. So improve your marketing strategy, by all means, but don`t confuse marketing for selling.
    2. Early in this thread, you expressed frustration that you`re getting in front of chefs, and you`re able to do your presentation and a demo, and it`s well received, but the chefs don`t buy on the spot. They put you off, so you call back to follow up and then they want more information or for you to mail them something, etc....
    This is a classic selling scenario, filled with classic selling challenges! There`s something in your sales methodology that sounds like it`s not working.
    The great thing is that you`re getting in front of people. You`re even getting chef`s say "this is the best I`ve ever tasted." That`s fantastic! But now, how do you go about closing that business?
    Closing business requires correct sales behaviors. It`s hard to know what`s happening without actually going on a call with you, but there must be something that`s taking a wrong turn during the sales interaction. Common sales problems:
    -not identifying customers needs;
    -not asking for the business;
    -not adequately handling objections;
    -doing all the talking instead of getting the prospect talking;
    -assuming needs instead of getting prospects to verbalize needs;
    -treating all prospects the same
    -not being likeable enough
    - not creating urgency
    - not talking to the decision maker
    - etc. - there`s dozens of sales challenges!
    If you identify the sales challenge you`re having (the reason your face-to-face selling approach is not working), then you can create some new tactics to change the end-result.
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    chefamychefamy subscriber Posts: 2
    In my lack of sales experience I can immediately identify the problems on your list
    1. not asking for the business; I do great until this point and then fall flat, I am working on it and seeing more return.
    It is amazing what one learns, hopefully not too late.

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    TerryW4TerryW4 subscriber Posts: 0
    A couple of thoughts....
    Regarding your website and selling retail,  why not put together gift baskets featuring your cheesecake?    I`ve received gifts this way,  like Godiva chocolates - check out their website - www.godiva.com - gift giving is so much easier when you can order online and have it sent directly.  No shopping, no packaging, no going to the PO for shipping, and friends/relatives receive a really nice classy gift.  My sister had a giant chocolate chip cookie (the size of a medium pizza) sent to my daughter from a website for her birthday.  Unfortunately we live in the low desert and her birthday is in July, by the time we got the mail it was one big messy cookie - the chocolate chips melted. So for certain areas of the country you could have a "not available in ..... during the months of ....." due to extreme heat considerations.
    One poster said that your website made him hungry for cheesecake but he could just run to the neighborhood store to get one rather than order through your website and wait to get one.  But you can`t do that if you want to send someone a really nice unique gift - your cheesecake.  Then, when the recipient gets that thoughtful gift and tells the sender how absolutely delicious it was, that sender might decide to try ordering one for him/herself. 
    And maybe you could come up with some different flavored cheesecakes for certain holidays - like a slightly pumpkin flavored one for Thanksgiving and Christmas?   How about a green one for people to send their Irish friends on St. Patty`s Day?
    On restaurants,  I worked in restaurants for 11 years.  Everything came from certain distributors who carried pretty much everything you needed - including all of the desserts,  all delivered weekly in a big refrigerated truck.  If you haven`t already, maybe you should try getting your cheesecake carried by a major restaurant distributor?   One restaurant`s former owner`s son now makes a much better living merely taking orders from area restaurants for a major distributor.
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    katscoolcorner1katscoolcorner1 subscriber Posts: 0
    From R U New to Business


    I looked at your site too, Cheesecake to me is THE CHEESECAKE FACTORY.  I think tying the two names together of "cheese"  &  "cake" will always give people the idea that they are about to order a desert (Cheesecake).  Since CHEESECAKE FACTORY is so well known, I feel that as soon as anyone will say those two words together they will expect something sweet and delicious. 
    I think if they do a keyword search of "cheesecake"  and then come to your site, they will be immediately turned OFF!  Because they will feel mislead.
    There are a million cheeses out there.   Do we really need one more cheese variety? 
    If I were you, I don`t think I would continue putting more money into it, unless you really feel you have a strong passion for it.  If you do feel passionate, when you think about your product, what are points that you really say, wow this stuff is amazing!  I love what I`m doing!  If you can`t answer those questions, I would suggest finding something that you are really passionate about. 
    Many successful entrepreneurs are following their fiery passions that create a whole niche.
    (Did you ever see the Fly Fisherman program on TV?)  Those two brothers make you want to jump onto one of those hand crafted lures!  Because you can feel their love for the sport and the passion just jumps out of the TV.
    Kat--of  R U New to Business
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