Startup To Scale

141. Executing an In-Store Sales and Promotion Strategy

October 02, 2023 Foodbevy Season 1 Episode 141
Startup To Scale
141. Executing an In-Store Sales and Promotion Strategy
Show Notes Transcript

We all know that getting on shelf is hard, but selling off the shelf is even harder.

On this episode I’m joined by Andy Segal, Senior Sales Manager at Honey Mama’s to share how he manages sales and promotions.

He breaks down how he creates a strategy for the year using tools like Promomash and Crisp, and then uses them to evaluate the success of the various promotions.

If you need help managing sales strategy, trade spend and deductions, try Promomash and Crisp yourself. Foodbevy members get a free 30 day trial of both tools.

Startup to Scale is a podcast by Foodbevy, an online community to connect emerging food, beverage, and CPG founders to great resources and partners to grow their business. Visit us at to learn about becoming a member or an industry partner today.

Andy Segal

Jordan Buckner: [00:00:00] We all know that getting on shelf is hard, but selling off the shelf is even harder. There's been a lot of focus on growing in retail and expanding distribution, but once you do, how do you make sure that you're actually selling across consumers, that you are driving trial and ultimately get to the place where you're making money from being on the retail shelf?

So to answer some of these conversations and questions, I've invited on Andy Segal, who's the Senior Sales Manager Central at Honeymamas to share how he manages sales across his region. Andy, welcome. 

Andy Segal: Thanks for having me. 

Jordan Buckner: So Andy, tell me a little bit more about your background and how you got into the sales side of CPG.

Andy Segal: Sure. So actually growing up really wanted to be a chef. I was always very fascinated with food and I got a pretty early taste of what it was like to work in a restaurant. And it certainly was great from the food standpoint, but wasn't necessarily for me. And I had the [00:01:00] opportunity to go to a school that actually had a degree in food and CPG marketing.

And I just absolutely fell in love and Graduated from there. I spent the first six years of my career working for a broker on a number of different really big CPG brands. And what I really discovered is that I loved the smaller manufacturer side of the industry. And I had an opportunity to leave the broker.

And move on and work for a few startup companies. And so now I'm on to my third working for Honey Mamas. I've been here for about a little over two years now. And yeah, it's been really amazing. 

Jordan Buckner: I love that. Tell me about Honeymama's sales strategy is and how it might differ from some of the other brands that you've worked with.

Andy Segal: Sure. So you know, Honeymama's sales strategy is often evolving and I think that's very common for the startup side. I guess our biggest strategy up to this point is really becoming strong in the natural channel. We believe that we can build a lot of our business. outside of that channel [00:02:00] through showing strong growth with very strategic partners in the natural channel.

We've had the opportunity in the last year or so to grow outside of the natural channel into some math and some other conventional regional players retailers throughout the country. And given our success in the natural channel, it's really given us an opportunity to do that and then also grow. In those customers as well.

So our strategy is it's going to be to remain strong in the natural channel continue to innovate within the natural channel and then be able to take that innovation outside of the natural channel to, you know, new flavors, new product formats , and then go from there. 

Jordan Buckner: I know one thing that's a challenge for Honey Mamas is growing not only the product, but really kind of a new category and scaling the business at the same time.

Can you talk about that? 

Andy Segal: Yeah, certainly. You know, and that's been our biggest challenge, really moving outside of the natural space, the natural retailer space. You know, a lot of retailers with a new category , like a refrigerated bar [00:03:00] category, especially in conventional, they aren't totally sure where to put it, who it should compete with.

And that is it's a big challenge. For us and our competition to, you know, go to retailers and tell the story. The good news is for us is that the numbers are really strong and we have a lot of really good competition out there who, you know, without even necessarily always talking to one another, we're sort of strategically working together in order to do that as we're all going into the same category of views at the same time and telling very similar stories.

So it's not even just necessarily finding the space within the store. It's. Finding exactly where to put it too. So it could be totally different sections of the store that certain retailers want to put it. And they're asking us that they're telling us to give the story and say why it should be in produce or dairy dessert or where it is.

And that is a challenge, but the good news is as the category builds you know, retailers are listening to us and they want us to tell our story, which is a really unique opportunity for us to be able to do. 

Jordan Buckner: I've definitely been there [00:04:00] myself with my CPG brand. I ran Teasquares, we were a energy bar, but sold in like bite sized pieces and a pouch.

And right, it's like, do we go in the energy bar set, but the shelves were like really low physically. And this was kind of before some of the larger bags, so like it physically wouldn't fit on a lot of those shelves. We go by granola, but then our price point is a lot higher per vault for per weight.

Which a lot of people are making a decision on. And so it's really tricky. I remember a couple of Whole Foods, we were by like the raw food set when that was a thing and they like discontinued it. So I think, you know, one of the mistakes that a lot of founders make is saying like, Oh, the retailers really know their store.

Like they'll just figure out where we would sell best, but that's usually not the case. So how have you guys, I know you've been in the market for a while too, but like, have you tested out like where should you go? Have you tried out different aisle placements and have you found your sweet spot?

Andy Segal: Yeah, sure. I mean, it's really a retailer by retailer case. So, you know, where we've found a lot of success is really just being near [00:05:00] competition. There are certain sections of the store that definitely do better than others and Also depends on the channel too, right? So you know, retailers, I will say, do know their stores best, certainly, but when we start to get into some of the, you know, regional, conventional retailers often they're really not sure.

So, We have to go to them with the numbers, using data, using syndicated data, using shipment data, looking at, you know, past promotions if we've run them before in certain sections of the store, even asking them to build displays and test items in different spots of the store. And there's been a lot of reception in areas for us to be able to do that.

And then we can take that story elsewhere as well. You know, , it's a challenge, certainly, because often that, there's a lot of spend that comes with that as well, too but when we've invested in those kind of things and worked closely with those retailers to do those kind of things, it tends to work out.

So you know, , it's just an ever growing and changing story, especially with building a new category like [00:06:00] this that we have to just continue to tell and continue to build. 

Jordan Buckner: So Andy, as you are working with different retailers in , your region, how much of your job is selling into new accounts versus growing existing ones?

Andy Segal: I would say it's about 50 50 at this point. You know, like I said, the natural channel is really strong. But we also work very closely with our broker who has existing relationships within these accounts. And I think that's super important to, you know, build a really strong relationship with the broker who then can use their strong relationship with the retailers.

So you know, it's 50 50 between, you know, working on growing new accounts or working on growing an existing account. And working on getting into new accounts, especially for a small business like ours, it's super important to continue to expand distribution with new items and new retailers and footprint and existing retailers.

Jordan Buckner: You know, I'm curious as I kind of teased at the beginning of the episode, it's really challenging to even just like get on the initial shelf. So I'm curious, like as you're talking to retailers and pitching them on why the comment, how [00:07:00] are you? Using and showing them the right data to make your selling case.

And I know a big part of those launches are creating like a promotional plan to get off the ground when you launch with a new retailer. So how are you thinking about both like making that sale? And then once you get in pitching, like, this is how we're going to support our product within your store.

Andy Segal: Yeah, certainly. So we use a lot of syndicated data to do that. And , the numbers are there, especially when we look at the natural channel you know, not just for our brand, but for the category in general. So , we like to lean on that and use it to our advantage to show retailers, Hey, there are some dollars on the table to be made for everybody here.

And consumers are looking for better for you products like ours in New format. So using syndicated data you know, we do invest in a promotional plan pretty heavily into new retailers. And I think being willing to talk about paying slotting. I know a lot of brands as they're getting started or getting started up, get really scared of [00:08:00] paying for shelf space.

I do think it is important to try to find a happy medium between a strong promotional plan and paying a lot of slotting to get into places. But that just, you have to be very, and we have been very strategic about what retailers we go after and knowing what those slotting costs are going to be and how long we're going to be on shelf for.

And so, you know, I think it's scary sometimes to talk about that, but it's super important. And if you can get your shelf space with a great product, you can win. 

Jordan Buckner: And then as you're planning out, say like promotions, have you found that certain promotions typically work better , for you guys or like a combination of them to drive that, that trial and purchase?

Andy Segal: Certainly, I feel like we're also always learning and willing to adjust to we definitely try to ensure that we're lapping promotions year over year with a customer , to continue to help grow the brand with that. But we're also willing to make changes as well to and move [00:09:00] months around or put promotions in different weeks.

I don't like to. Get caught up in staying in the same, you know, set of promotions or time periods if there's opportunity to move around. And I think as a team, we've found, you know, the ability to change things when needed or based upon retailers needs. So I think that's important to put the extra time in and, you know, use the data that you're getting from syndicated data or programs like CRISP and Promomash, where you can really dive deep and see like what worked and what didn't work.

You know, as an example, like why did a May promotion that was the exact. Same as an August promotion, do a lot better. , what's the reason there? Do we need to do something different? So I think you got to use what you can, the tools that are out there and available to figure out where things are working best and maybe why they're.

Jordan Buckner: So as you start getting into, you know, hundreds and thousands of retailers, it gets tough, right? Managing those promotions across all the different retailers that you're [00:10:00] working with. So how, I know you mentioned Promomash and CRISP, how are you using those tools to plan and evaluate promotions? 

Andy Segal: Yeah, certainly.

So, you know, for touch on CRISP real quick, having shipment data is, you know, super important for us because you know, being a small brand, we don't have the access to as much data as, you know, we could probably use so being able to like dive into crisp and looking at the shipment data and then matching that up to where we have built our promotions into a program like Promomash and just figuring things out why they're, you know, diving deeper into those, you know, reports that they have and seeing why things work where they did.

So, you know, Spending time is probably the best way to answer that question. You just got to be in there and you got to look around and the information's all there and available and they're super easy programs to use. And if you spend the time to do so you're going to benefit from it in the future, for sure.

Jordan Buckner: You give a quick, you know, 10 second overview of [00:11:00] what CRISP does and what Promomash does for listeners who might not be familiar. 

Andy Segal: Yeah, certainly. So CRISP essentially will take a number of different connectors from either syndicated data or distributor data, and they bring them all together in a more digestible platform, essentially.

So instead of... You know, looking at all of these different areas of, you know, shipment data or syndicated data, you're able to kind of bring it all into one. Place and then, you know, generate your reports to see them all in, you know, different formats or different reports within 1 platform. Similarly, Promomash essentially is able to take.

All of these retailer promotions as well as all of the shipment data and indicated data in and then be able to spit you out things like PNL with all of these pieces of information coming in so you can see what your trade spend is totally you can dig down to retailer you can see how you know your units are doing on promotion and off promotion and a [00:12:00] lot of it sounds really scary when you're first getting into this but Having a program like those two, you're able to kind of digest it all in one place and get to some answers quicker than you used to be able to.

Jordan Buckner: No, I think that's great. , I'd be curious to hear like what your planning process looks like for looking at trade promotions. Is it something you're like sitting down once a year and planning it all out for the year? Are you kinda going in quarterly, like how often and what does that planning process look like?

Andy Segal: Yeah, kind of all of the above, honestly. Right. So you sit down at the beginning of the year, you plan out all your promotions and then. , I would hate to say quarterly cause it's a lot more often than that. Right. You're sitting down with either your retailers or your brokers or both. You know, all the time and you're changing things, you're adding things, they have new opportunities that come up so you know, that's, and that's like the day to day right so once you set the promotions in place, you'll hear from a retailers accept the plan and then it just is changing and then as you get to, you know, [00:13:00] timing like category reviews and stuff you're talking about adding new items or replacing items with newer ones, and then you make adjustments to the promo plan based on, right.

So you might give intros for 60 or 90 days on a particular item or the whole brand if it's a new retailer. And so, yeah, , that's a lot of what goes into , the sales side of the business. 

Jordan Buckner: You building like Promomash then like into like the plan and using that to like have a dashboard of everything.

Andy Segal: Yeah, certainly in the promomash team does a great job. We send them a list essentially of retailer by retailer of our promotions for the year. And then as you know, things change, get added or moved, we'll go in and make those adjustments on the backend so that when it's spitting you out the reports on or I should say the front end and as it's spitting you out reports on the backend, , you're getting that information that will show you what your trade is.

And, you know, just. That helps you ensure that you're not overspending. It's a great way to be able to make decisions on the fly as well about promotional timing and strategy and adding things. You [00:14:00] know, being able to put those in and seeing what it does to your overall trades, but retailer by retailer, you know, we like to set goals of course with how much we want to spend as a percentage by retailer and blended.

And we know we can make adjustments because we have that information from using those programs. 

Jordan Buckner: You know, I know Yuval from PromoMash likes to say that most promotion, those spend is wasted because people aren't actually tracking, you know, how it performs and if you had any lift. So once you're kind of running promotions, how do you take a look to say like, Hey, this was effective or not effective.

And has that been easier PromoMash? 

Andy Segal: Yeah, it certainly is. And I think over time, that is also evolving, right? I mean, , we run promotions, you know, every other month, potentially, and a little less than that. But we run promotions, then we go back and look at them. The challenge is, you know, we don't get to necessarily see where promotions are until later.

So we're really looking like a [00:15:00] year in the past at times. So yeah, having having those, are, you know, it gives us the ability to you know, look at them down the road and, and see you know, how they were doing and make decisions for the future. So , it's off, but having quicker data, like Promomash we can avoid wasting those funds , as you've all said.

Jordan Buckner: No, I think , that's awesome. Cause I know a lot of times there's a lot of like mystery around like, Hey, I'm running this promotion. Like, did it actually help? Is it selling or anything like that? Have you used things like, cause I know I've seen Crisp being used to see like, Hey, I'm running my promotion during this time period.

Is it actually like on shelf? And then is it actually selling, are you looking at it that way? 

Andy Segal: Yeah, sort of. We also like to use you know, our retail teams and our broker to go out into stores and take pictures as well, too. , that's a great way for us to see things on shelf and make sure that they're running.

We go out to store themselves as well. So , the beauty of those data pieces is that you can kind of tell. If a retailer ran a promotion [00:16:00] you know, at a different price point than you agreed upon, or they didn't run it for as long as you agreed upon by like diving into that data quite a bit.

Jordan Buckner: No, I think . That's awesome. I'm curious, kind of what advice do you have for any founders who are, you know, they've in the retail, they're in a couple hundred stores, like, how do you really maintain those relationships? How do you think about your strategy as you're growing to make sure that each new account that you're bringing on is kind of incremental to the brand and driving value?

Andy Segal: Yeah, certainly. I would say that it's not a necessarily a one size fits all for every single brand. You know, certain brands are going to be unicorns. They're going to explode. They're going to grow in the natural channel super fast. And then all of a sudden they're going to be in conventional. I would say take your time.

Talk to people in the industry. Talk to retailers. And get your product in people's mouths, let them try it and take feedback and make adjustments and then go after what you, from all of those conversations, go after what you think makes the most amount of sense for your business. [00:17:00] And that could be the natural channel that could be directly into some strategic conventional customers that are willing to take a chance on you.

You know. Talk to a lot of people I think would be , the great answer to that. Especially people who have been in the industry a long time and have been through it. Talk to as many of them as you can and take all that information in and then, you know, go from there for sure. 

Jordan Buckner: I love that advice, Andy.

Andy, thanks so much for joining today and sharing your sales strategy and promotion plan. It was super helpful. 

Andy Segal: Yeah. Thank you so much, Jordan.