Navigating the Swiss F&B distribution jungle

Updated: Jun 1, 2020

Cyrill Kressibucher is the Head of Sales for a Swiss Brewery.

Constantin Papadopoulos is a B2B marketing & sales consultant.

Cyrill and I met virtually during the Covid-19 crisis. Manuel Hartmann had been building a panel of experts for the first Startup Sales Summit (register here). With Cyrill, we had shared similar experiences and buyers in the Food & Beverage industry. After a few zoom discussions, we decided to deliver a webinar and to support start-ups in their sales effort. This article uncovers the four main ideas that will be tackled during our joined session.

The market

Every business model starts with the land of opportunities. How big is the market? What would the revenue stream look like if the company could gain a five percent market share? All of these questions are often filling the hopes of young entrepreneurs. We have a slightly different approach. While we agree that mapping the customer universe is key, we focus here on understanding why customers will not buy (your) products. As the old negotiator saying goes, start with no. Most of the customers will be out-of-market or they will have reasons not to buy. As soon as this is understood across the organization, the company will be ready to start selling. Transforming the initial no into a yes is thus the only focus of any sales effort.

The distribution channels

Now that it is understood what it takes to convince its customers, the distribution strategy becomes of salient importance. How will your customer receive its order? Direct or indirect delivery will be one aspect of the equation. Will you go small first and then later big, or do you start global from the get-go? Another vital and often underestimated part of the distribution is also your pricing strategy. Everybody in the chain will be reclaiming its margins and even sales & marketing budgets. If your pricing is not consistent throughout your distribution chain, you’re occurring the risk of getting blocked in your scaling ambitions. During the webinar, we will review the distribution landscape for food & beverages in Switzerland and share thoughts for the different distribution schemes.

The customer revenue network

After having defined your distribution plan, it is now time to get the orders. In the F&B world, similarly to other industries and categories, there are few key opinion leaders and many followers. Understanding who influences whom and how you can profit from a solid industry network are questions that we will answer. One of the approaches we recommend is to build a customer revenue network. By mapping all the players around the key decision-maker the path to a favorable decision becomes clearer.

The negotiation journey

Now that the path to the decision is defined, the negotiation journey can start. Your prospects, distributors have not waited for your visionary idea to have a business. What is the typical buyer profile that you will encounter and what are tips and tricks to master? Answering these questions is the focus of the final part of the webinar. Proper mapping of the relevant partners provides you support during the negotiation journey. Key opinion leaders, parallel suppliers, purchasing groups, or distribution partners may have valuable insight into your customer or provide valuable feedback to your company.

So if you're looking to professionalize your sales in your F&B start-up or are simply passionate about sales in the F&B landscape, join us and register here to our session on June 4th, 2020, at 5:00pm.

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