I was recently asked to speak at my local Church as part of a series of events for Climate Week.
They asked me to speak about the benefits of buying local and the positive impact it has on the Environment. I thought long and hard about the message I wanted to get across to the audience and how I could put my own spin on what can be a very complex and sometimes confusing subject:
“Food Miles; making the switch from Global to National to Local”
In my opinion, there are three changes we can all make to the way we shop for and consume food that in turn will have a more positive impact on the Environment:
- Diet – incorporate more plant based options into our diet and eat less processed foods
- Packaging – buy foods in sustainable packaging and limit single use plastic
- Sourcing – buy as close to home as possible
This is such a huge subject and one which, in the quest to do the right thing can cause overwhelm which results in no action at all. I like to keep it simple so I decided to approach my talk by presenting to the audience small changes to existing habits focussed on change number 3: Sourcing. I did this by showcasing three different product groups; Sugar, cooking oil and bacon to demonstrate my point how with relative ease, it is simple to transition from Global to National to Local. Let me explain…
I live in Newark on Trent, home to one of the British Sugar factories and a town where the rather exotic smell of sugar beet cooking wafts across the town centre and neighbouring villages. The sugar beet grow all around our area and can often be seen on the back of transport lorries making their approach to the factory. We see it, we smell it, it is synonymous with our town yet most of the sugar available to buy in the retail outlets in and around our town is produced from Sugar Cane which is grown globally in Countries many miles from Newark.
The sugar we stir into our tea and coffee or add to our bakes doesn’t start out as one of those rather interesting looking vegetables that grow in and around our area YET the packaging displays a Union Jack, why? It is packaged in the UK that is why. I pointed this out to my audience and gave the example of two well known brands both of which display the union jack on their packaging:
● Tate & Lyle – produced using Sugar cane from multiple countries BUT packaged in the UK
● Silver Spoon – produced using Sugar Beet grown in the UK AND packaged in the UK
My audience was shocked when I shared this with them and said they thought the misuse of the Union Jack was dishonest. My point and back to the subject of Global – National – Local, buy Silver Spoon EVERY TIME which is widely available in many Supermarkets and retail outlets.
My audience was a mix of Global, National and Local consumers. The Globals were price sensitive and hadn’t really thought to pay much attention to where their food comes from. They were already set in their ways BUT totally bought into the Sugar story and were signed on to making this food shop – result!! Globals are moving towards Nationals. The Nationals were already bought into sourcing their food from within the UK and paid particular attention to the use of the Union Jack Logo. They were the most upset about the misuse of it in the Sugar story and were signed on to scrutinising food labelling and packing moving forward. RESULT – Nationals are now more shopper savvy. The locals were completely signed on to sourcing their food from as close to home as possible and were able to demonstrate that they were already doing this. They like buying direct from the producer as they want to know where their food has come from and also like building direct relationships with the maker. They also like
shopping for produce at our local market as they can engage directly with stall holders and tap into their knowledge of where the products come from. The locals loved the Sugar Story and felt an even greater connection with local food production.
At the end of my talk, I invited questions from the audience and there was one that came back unanimously:
“Who is doing it right?”
In the context of small easy to implement changes, this was meant in the context of the Supermarkets. We are really well catered for in Newark, we have a representation from all of the major retailers. We spoke about all of them with specific reference to two; Morrisons and Coop.
Morrisons as they appear to be making progress in the right direction and are creating a lot of noise regarding local via their advertising. Coop, because of the number of local options available. Specific mention was given to Lincolnshire Coop who have multiple outlets in Newark. Not only do they have a wide range of locally sourced products, they are also doing a very good job of telling customers about it, not via their TV advertising but in store at the point of purchase.
This prompted another very interesting discussion around how customers want to be spoken to about local and what’s important to them. The verdict was that it is not enough to say “these carrots were grown by Frank in his field in Lincolnshire” they want to know why they should care that those carrots are grown by Frank. I.e. travelled less, fresher, support for rural communities. In short, it’s the why not the what, the benefit not the feature.
There was agreement amongst the audience that they liked what Lincolnshire Coop was doing by incorporating Local Brands into the main fixture as this made it easier to compare them to their Global and National counterparts. They also liked that Lincolnshire Coop were using clear signage at the point of purchase to highlight the local options.
So where am I going with this…? My recommendation to any Retailers that might be reading this and are committed to moving customers from Global to National to Local in a manner which is easy to understand and implement:
- Know your Union Jacks and use them wisely – educate Consumers on what it means to have this on pack without trying to trick them into thinking this is a product grown, made or produced in the UK when it is merely packed in the UK
- Don’t reinvent the wheel – if you already stock it, tell customers about it. Champion your local heroes within your existing Supplier Base, Silver Spoon for example – it’s a quick win!
- Educate customers in store, at main fixture at the point of purchase – present the local options to them so they can make an informed decision
- Communicate why customers should care – sell the benefits not the features
- Expand local options across more product categories – stocking a bunch of Franks carrots in a pack embellished with a Union Jack does not tick the box!
- Identify and work with Local Champions in the Communities you serve to tell customers what you are doing
If you want to discuss this further, please get in touch: email@example.com
Those that know me well know that there is one word that is guaranteed to make my blood boil and that is the word Commission! Over the last 18 months, I have been asked many times by prospective Clients if I would consider working on a “commission only basis”. My answer to this question is always the same…NO! For the record, I am not closed off to new ways of working, however I would like to explain why the Commission only model does not work for me:
I am a relationship builder, call it a Customer Engagement Manager if you will. I work with and on behalf of my Clients to build long lasting meaningful relationships with customers and prospective customers.
Short term transactional relationships which are centred around price are not for me. I prefer to engage with Customers and Clients to sell and raise awareness of benefits not features. I have worked in
Sales for 21 years and not once have I been paid on Commission. Building these longer term relationships plays to my strengths, I am naturally inquisitive and very much buy into the Know, Like,
Trust model of building customer relationships. I am in it for the long term and prefer to reach for the fruits which grow higher up the tree.
The process of securing a new listing and increasing points of distribution takes time. I was once offered a very attractive “Finders Fee” to get a product listed in ASDA. As attractive as it was, I am a realist and
experienced enough to know that at best this could have taken 12 months to realise but probably more.
If you think of this in the context of contract renewals or retail range reviews, these tend to come up for tender every 3 years. That’s 3 years of doing all the groundwork and sewing all the seeds on behalf of a Client without any financial return! If I work with a Client over a 6, 9 or 12 month period to raise awareness of their brand and products BUT don’t secure any listings for them do I: Get paid when that
Buyer visits them at a Trade Show because of our interaction? Get paid when that Buyer is ready to engage and their products are at the forefront of mind because of our interactions? Get paid when that
Buyer seeks them out at a conference because of our interactions? The point that I am trying to make is that we lay the foundations for our Clients to build on. We open doors which our Clients then have to
walk through sometimes long after our Commercial relationship has ended.
I believe Sales Professionals that work on and are driven by Commission demonstrate certain types of behaviour. Yes we are persistent, yes we call and email on multiple occasions, yes we are driven to get
the best results for our Clients but never to the point of being pushy or borderline aggressive. When researching and building prospect lists for our Clients, we do not call any outlets which are on the CTPS
register, if we are told “thanks but no thanks” we listen, thank that person for their time and leave them alone. Yes we cold call but we never do it to sell, we do it to ask permission to make ongoing contact, to introduce ourselves and the Clients we are representing and most importantly to build rapport and engage in an open dialogue. We are afforded the luxury of working in this way because we are not
chasing a quick sale or trying to outperform other team members.
It’s an age thing:
Do you know the well known saying: “You pay me for the years not the minutes”? Chances are that if you have reached out to me in the first place it’s because you lack the skills, experience and confidence
to do your own prospecting. In 2021 alone, we have made over 1,000 phone calls on behalf of our Clients – could you do that? I am 48, I’ve been in Sales a long time, I’ve worked hard to build my network
and am proud of each and every brand we have represented over the past 3.5 years.
I hope that if we have spoken about doing Business together in the past or might do so in the future, you can now see where I am coming from when it comes to Commission only? Yes, I understand that the
Commission only model minimises the risk for you if you don’t get the sale BUT what about the risk for us? We do all the groundwork and work tirelessly on your behalf to build brand awareness and get your products in front of more people but don’t get paid not because we have done anything wrong but just because the timing wasn’t quite right.
So, if in the last 18 months you have received an email from me with words to this effect:
“I don’t work on commission but appreciate how this model works for some. Good luck with your quest to expand your reach – I’m sure your product will be very well received”
Please don’t be offended. I genuinely do wish you well, we just aren’t right for each other.
I am just coming to the end of a Lead Generation project for a new Client that I started working with back in October 2020. Of all the projects I have completed on behalf of my Clients, I have enjoyed this one the most and here’s the reason why…I got to talk about me and my Business!! Let me explain:
Since starting my Business in 2018, I have always worked on behalf of one Client at a time. I have taken on the role of a Member of THEIR Team, with a specific email address and have always introduced myself as “Leisa, from…” In taking this approach, I have at no point mentioned the name of my Business or what I do as I thought the approach was best to come from my Client via me rather than from me and Find me the Leads® directly.
This latest project has changed my thinking for one simple reason, I have been asked the question: “so what do you do?” to which I have allowed myself to answer “I have my own Business representing a number of amazing brands” to which the response has been “ooh, what else have you got?” – a bit like Del Boy being asked to reveal the contents of his suitcase.
This approach has really enabled me to put the customer rather than the Client at the heart of my process and build closer relationships with them based on their wants and needs. It has also facilitated a more efficient way of working not only for me and my Business but for my Client.
Find me the Leads® benefits:
- One email address which is my own
- One conversation on behalf of multiple brands
- Find me the Leads® is at the forefront of conversations
- Closer relationships with Buyers and retailers
- Better time efficiencies
- One email means a quicker response and removes additional cost of setting up an additional account
- One conversation generates a more honest response and facilitates constructive feedback
- My brand rather than their brand means less expectation for me to have all the answers and opens the door for my Client to get involved in the conversation and build ongoing relationships
- Closer relationships mean better results for Clients as I become a trusted source for awesome products which add value and drive sales
- Improved time efficiencies mean more competitive cost structures for Clients
By adopting the Del Boy approach to Lead Generation, from now on I will be representing up to 5 noncompeting brands at the same time, twice a year for a 3-month period. The projects will run in line with the buying cycles: January – March for Spring/Summer listings, May – July for Autumn/Winter listings.
I cannot wait to get started with this new way of working and already have 3 brands signed up for my first Del Boy Project in May.
So…don’t be a plonker, get in touch to find out more and join me as I head out with my suitcase!!
I work alone and for myself and have done since Find me the Leads® started in May 2018. I have always been proud to be the face, voice and personality behind my brand as this is what makes my Business unique and is a big part of what my Clients buy in to.
In the Summer of 2020, I started working with a Business Coach who advised me that in order to attract bigger, higher paying Clients I needed to start speaking in the third person rather than the first person. So, “I support Food & Drink Brands with…” became “We support Food & Drink Brands with…”
The reason behind this advice, perception! If I gave the impression that my Business is bigger than it is and that I have a team around me supporting the delivery of Client work, Clients with deeper pockets and more money to spend would come flooding in.
I totally bought into this and on all my social media posts, email marketing and New Client Meetings I started talking “we” instead of “I” – I even had a new pop up banner designed and printed with the words “We support Food & Drink Brands…”
Whilst I can see the value in this advice and the sentiment behind it, it hasn’t quite played out in practise. My existing audience have become confused about the “Royal We” I am referring to all of a sudden, I’m confused about which person I should be speaking in and most importantly I feel like I am being dishonest when communicating with Prospective Clients. Truth is, it’s me and only me that does all the work and my Clients know and like that.
A few weeks ago, I spoke to a Friend and fellow Small Business Owner who said to me:
“it’s just you in the business, right? Why don’t you embrace that!”
At the time I defended my decision as in some way by reverting back to I, I would be accepting that my Business hasn’t grown at the rate I wanted it to over the past 12 months BUT now I have embraced the advice 100% and from now on and until my Business is more than “just me” I will be:
DITCHING THE WE AND EMBRACING THE I!!
Thank you to Lauren Clark at Social on Toast who challenged my thinking and reminded me that “people buy from people” Check her out here: http://socialontoast.co.uk/
Reflecting on my first 6 months as a new Business Owner…
In December, just 3 months on from starting my business and not long after I wrote my first Blog, the reality of being self-employed hit me with a BANG!!
I don’t know why I didn’t see it coming, I know the industry in which I operate, I understand my target customer and had written and rewritten my personal survival budget a million times.
Trouble is, my Clients are all mad busy in the run up to Christmas processing orders, meeting delivery deadlines and selling direct to consumers at Christmas Markets, Fairs and any kind of event which encourages the great British Public to part with their cash. This means their focus is on maximising existing business and not on driving new business.
So when faced with the prospect of no work and therefore no income, I had to change my thinking and call upon my transferable skills.
A friend of mine works for an agency and mentioned that they were looking for catering staff in the run up to Christmas. Whilst this was not a line of work I had every considered before, the prospect of some short term cash to invest back into my developing business was very appealing.
Why should I do this was the questions I asked myself? The answers were simple: I love being part of a team, I’m a hard worker, I get on with people, I can lend my hand to most things, I needed the CASH and the fact my son had broken his ankle playing rugby the week before meant my weekends were looking quite free.
When I turned up to my first shift on 14th December, I had mixed emotions and I’m ashamed to say, I felt embarrassed! The shift went well and I turned up again the next night for more of the same. This time, my head was held a little bit higher and I was able to smile when faced with the teachers from my children’s Primary School, my husband’s barber and two members of my running club who kept asking me to join them for a glass of wine.
4 months on and I am still waitressing on the side, not because I need the cash as my business is doing well but because it has taught me so much about myself and how resilient I can be. I have a deeper understanding of the catering industry, I can carry THREE plates at a time, I have met some really interesting, hardworking people and I have learnt that if you are prepared to swallow your pride and lend your hand to anything, there is always work available.
As for those shoes…as a waitress, the dress code is black and white. Those shoes are a silent nod to the non-conformist within me and I am complimented on them every time I work.
Thanks for listening