First Steps to Success: Tips for Food Gift-Selling First-Timers

Shana Gardner, Operations

Food gifts are no small business—according to Packaged Facts, purchases of consumables for corporate gift-giving reached a new record in 2017 of $7.2 billion. Not all of those dollars are included in the $20 billion drawn through the promotional products industry, which means that there is a huge market out there just waiting to have a bite taken out of it. (See what I did there?)

If you’re already accomplished at selling food gifts, congratulations! This is not the blog you are looking for. (Picture the slow handwave. Droids optional.)

If you’ve never sold food gifts and would like to break into the market, or you would like to increase your success with food gifts, below you will find a treasure trove of tips to help you present and sell food gift programs.

You’ll also find a link to be entered in a raffle to win a free Chocolate Lovers tasting sample kit!

They won’t buy (from you) what they don’t know you can sell.

Your clients may think immediately of you when they need a wearable (or writing instrument or drinkware or tchotchke or…), but many don’t realize that you can offer food gifts, too. The next time you contact a client, ask them about their holiday program and if they give food gifts. You’ll get a lot of people telling you “yes”—61% of business gift buyers ranked food gifts as the top business gift for the holidays, and 53% said that their company purchased holiday food gifts. If they’re not buying their gifts from you, odds are good that they’re getting them from a big-box store or direct seller online. It’s up to you to let them know that you are their #1 source for food gifts! So how do you do that?

If you prepare, they will come.

Selling food gifts isn’t quite like selling a more mainline promotional product. Most people can grasp what a shirt will be like without actually having to hold the shirt in their hands. Food, however, is much harder to conceptualize.

What’s the first thing you think of when you hear the word “chocolate”? Is it a brand name chocolate bar? Belgian seashells? Swiss truffles? Chocolate chips? Whatever it is, it’s probably not the same as what the person next to you envisions, or the person next to them.

Because chocolate is such a mainstream item, your clients may not realize that not all chocolate is created equal. The chocolate they buy off the shelf at a big-box store is not going to be the same chocolate that they can buy through you.

(A brief aside: I enjoy macarons. I would try different brands whenever I could find them (usually frozen, sometimes from local bakeries), but I didn’t fall in love with them until I had the opportunity to try macarons from Ladurée. I’d expected them to be nicer than the frozen ones, but the actual quality difference was night and day. Forget seeing—tasting is believing!)

This is where the preparation comes in!

Success, thy name is knowledge.

You can’t know everything (much as we might all wish to be able to), but knowing where to get the answers is just as good. If you plan on presenting food gifts to a client (whether they know they’re interested yet or not), familiarize yourself with the basics. Maple Ridge Farms sales consultants are always happy to walk through any information you may need to sell food gift programs, whether it’s product suggestions, pricing, extra service information, special requests, or something else!

Time is money. So is timing.

November is the biggest month of the year for food gift orders, followed by October and December, but you can’t wait until then to start marketing food gift programs. Bringing up holiday food gift programs in late-October is a great way to give your client time to have already fulfilled those programs elsewhere. Plant the seeds earlier— give them catalogs and samples, discuss food gift program needs, even send some self promotion gifts yourself—and you’ll be able to cultivate a nice holiday program. (Need advice on planning? Maple Ridge Farms sales consultants can help with that, too!)

Show, don’t tell.

I could write for pages about the virtues of Maple Ridge Farms food gifts (and, honestly, have), but would you be convinced by my assertion that ours are the best? Wouldn’t you rather form that opinion for yourself? The same goes for your clients.

Tasting samples are a great way to get a foot in the door, especially when you haven’t yet presented food gifts to your client. When you walk into a sales meeting, take a tasting sample along with you. At the beginning of the meeting, open it and set it out for your client to enjoy as you discuss other products and programs. When they ask about the delicious treat you brought (which they will, because it will be delicious), explain that you can also help them out with a food gift program. Time your meeting correctly (right before lunch or the end of the day—peak hunger times) for maximum impact.

Tasting samples are so successful that we actually offer them in kits! Contact a Maple Ridge Farms sales consultant for more information—and enter here for a chance to win one! (Don’t worry, we won’t tell if you sneak a couple for yourself. It’s easier to sell what you know, after all.)

Not meeting your client face-to-face, or following up after the initial meeting? Don’t despair, there’s still plenty to show. Virtual samples that allow your client to see their logo on an image of a gift are always free, but we also offer samples with random imprints and spec samples. Giving your client the option to not only try the gourmet food but to see the fantastic packaging is another weapon in your arsenal. We can even ship the sample directly to your client with a note from you if you’re not able to present it to them personally.

Want more information? Maple Ridge Farms offers a series of live and recorded webinars with even more advice and tips! Contact a Maple Ridge Farms sales consultant for the link to register and view.