Food is the Ultimate Ice Breaker


Many distributors love to hit the streets. They thrive on networking, exhibiting at events, and giving presentations to small groups. They also know first-hand that food is the easiest ice-breaker in face-to-face exchanges with prospects.

Case in point #1: A few summers ago, distributor Harry Parrish attended a regional trade show in Texas. At the end of the show a Maple Ridge Farms rep gave Harry some chocolates to eat – he didn’t have enough room in his cooler to take them home. While Harry was busy savoring the chocolate, the rep filled him in on Maple Ridge Farms’ One Taste Sampler Program. For 35 years Harry bypassed the opportunity to promote and sell food gifts, but based on tasting our chocolate and his conversation with the sales rep, he decided to try the program. 

Good move. Harry’s $125 investment in the Sampler Program ultimately led to the sale of 39,000+ food gift packages (over the course of 13 months) to a nationwide banking chain.

Case in point #2:
Last year distributor John Houser made a dedicated effort – for the first time in his company's 11 years of business – to sell food gifts. One of the steps they took was to feature food gifts in their booths at two trade shows. In their pre-show promotions they alerted buyers that their exhibit would appeal to all of their senses (taste, smell, and so on).

Good move. Trade show attendees lined up to talk to John and his team. They couldn’t get to all of the prospects – and they even had a Maple Ridge rep working the show with them!

Case in point #3: When Greg Pederson was presented with the opportunity to create a thank-you gift for a floral wholesaler to give to 150 retail customers, he knew that creativity as well as overall presentation were key. Ultimately he proposed a 2-pound gold gift box with food products and a holiday CD tied together with a custom foil-stamped ribbon. The buyer thought the package was “darling.” Greg and the buyer then presented the package to the wholesaler’s sales team for their weigh-in, along with samples of Maple Ridge Farms turtles.

Good move. The sales team quickly ate the turtles, and realized they could easily imagine the combination of the great food and the CD being a hit with their customers.

In 2011, distributors presented customers and prospects – in person or by mail -- with about 35,000 Maple Ridge Farms sample packages. Giving buyers the opportunity to sample what you suggest they purchase as gifts for their clients is a surefire way to seal many deals.