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Crafting the Perfect Pitch: Q&A With Buyer Alli Ball

In the Know webinar series

It can feel impossible to catch a grocery buyer’s attention, and there’s only one change to make a good first impression.

During the upcoming SFA In the Know webinar: “Pitch Like A Pro: 4 Steps to The Perfect Pitch,” former grocery buyer and head of grocery from Bi-Rite Market, Alli Ball, will provide tips to ensure makers are prepared and confident to pitch their products. Ball now leads Food Biz Wiz, a consulting firm that helps emerging specialty brands prepare for retail.

During the session, she will explain how to connect with buyers, what buyers consider as they review a product line, what makes them pass on a brand, and how to ensure a product is filling a need for their shelves.

The webinar will take place next Tuesday, May 28, at 1 p.m. EDT. It is free for SFA members and $19 for non-members. Register now.

SFA News Daily recently spoke with Ball.

When pitching a product, what sort of information should makers include, or be prepared to answer?

Makers should have their verbal sales pitch scripted, practiced, and dialed in, and their professional-looking sell sheet and separated price list crafted and ready to hand over. Through the verbal pitch, the follow-up email, and their sell sheet and price list, makers should be able to answer all questions about the product itself, the logistics of ordering and receiving the product line, and how they’ll support sales of their product once on the shelf.

What are some questions to consider before going to a buyer to pitch a product?

Makers must consider: Why does this wholesale buyer need my product line? If there are hundreds of other delicious, sustainable, better-for-you brands in a buyer’s category, why should they bring in your product? If you don’t have an answer beyond, “we’re delicious!” then it’s time to revisit the question.

From there, it is sorting out all the logistics around fulfilling orders and supporting your product on the shelf. How are you going to receive and deliver orders? What’s your plan for getting the product off the shelf and into shoppers' baskets? The buyer needs to know you’re prepared for the retail relationship.

Do you notice any common mistakes makers make when speaking with buyers?

Spending all your time, energy, and money to land the new account without having any resources left to support your brand once on the shelf is a common mistake. It’s your responsibility to hit your sales goals, and your buyers want you to have a plan for getting your product to sell. Don’t forget to include this in your sales pitch so the buyer is reassured that you understand this important part of the relationship.

So many brands forget the follow-up. It can take months to move from a buyer’s verbal commitment to getting on the shelf, and it’s your responsibility to follow up again and again with the buyer. Many makers are too hesitant to keep reaching out, and therefore lose the sale. Follow up, even if it feels pushy!

Are there any topics you’re most excited to cover?

I can’t wait to share "tough love" from my days as a grocery buyer. I’ll be highlighting what I wish brands had said to me during their pitches, and what made me run in the other direction or delete their emails.  

Is there anything else you would like to share?

If you miss the webinar, join us in our free Wholesale Week, running June 3-7. We have five days of bite-sized lessons on increasing sales of your packaged products, along with thousands of dollars of business-building prizes.