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How I sold cookies to the Russian Army, kindergartens, and major network operators

A businesswoman from Khabarovsk bought a tiny line for the production of cookies. I found a recipe, gathered a team and cheerfully got down to business. And after a couple of months, I realized that one enthusiasm is not enough-no one buys cookies. Stanislav Matushevich tells how he got involved in this business, toured the city and surrounding villages, visited dozens of thresholds and brought the manufacturer a contract with a large network for a million
Hi, my name is Stas. I originally wrote this material together with DaData.ru — the service helps businesses get the most out of customer data. But in the end, this article is not about data, but about patience: I will tell you how I got a job as a sales Manager for a tiny production, looked for contacts of potential customers, traveled all the stores in Khabarovsk and earned a contract for a million. But I didn’t get anything out of it.

Half a ton of useless cookies a day

So, a friend bought a shop for the production of cookies. Not a full-fledged factory, but a single production line. The line consists of an oven and fifteen workers who knead the dough, shape the product, and take care of the equipment. The shop stood and still stands on the outskirts of Khabarovsk, an hour away from the center by bus.

The hostess saved on purchases of raw materials, so she put into production a single variety of cookies — sugar. It is very simple, delicious and does not crumble. Produced in strict accordance with GOST, which in our case meant a completely natural composition.
Of course, the cookie was called “Khabarovsk” (sorry for the quality of the photo)

The shop produced 0.5 tons of cookies per day, 15 tons per month. Where this good disappeared, I still do not understand, because I could not sell so much.

Here I come to an amazing fact. The owner of the shop is a well-known business coach in Khabarovsk. Apparently, there was a professional deformation or something like that, because she did not understand sales at all. And not only did not understand, but did not even try to sell. A person just wanted a cookie shop and bought it without thinking about advertising, promotion, or sales. It looks a little crazy, but I’m telling it like it is.

As a result, it produced cookies that no one bought. Scanty sales were given by Sarafan radio, which was based on the owner’s personal brand.
Usually, the production consists of several workshops combined into a factory. We only had one shop and one line

When the situation turned sour, a friend posted a sales Manager vacancy on Facebook. I was looking for a job at the time, but in my previous position, at a TV company, I was just doing sales. They talked, hit hands.

So I became the only representative of the commercial Department in the production. At that time, I was familiar with the basics of marketing and sales: I knew about the benefits, USP, positioning, and other basics. But I didn’t understand the specifics of wholesale trade.

It is interesting that we believed in success on principle. Yes, an important moment — it was April 2014. General economic decline, depression. But experts say that in difficult times, food companies grow in terms of sales. We were surprisingly inspired by this, and the prospects seemed bright.

Without data there is nothing to sell and no one

For a while I sat there, delving into the processes, immersed myself in the environment. Until one day the owner of the shop did not notice: “I spend X00 000 rubles every month for production.” Then it dawned on me-every second of inactivity costs her money! Until I was fired, I started planning sales very fast.

Collected data about potential customers

Information about wholesalers in FMCG knows the reference book “2GIS”. It is useless to search for something on official sites, because most of the potential partners simply do not have them. Wholesalers who work for 15-20 years do not go online. They believe that the established network of partners is enough.

I searched for data on the “product store” query, and eventually identified several types of CA:
small shops “at the house»;
trading network;
wholesale seller.
I did not consider it, because the product is not suitable for HoReCa at all. I seriously tried to sell to the Russian Army, but they buy cookies once a year and through Novosibirsk. So I waved my hand. I approached kindergartens, but they also purchased once a year and had long-established contacts.

I entered the data in Excel and structured it
We didn’t hear about CRM in Khabarovsk at that time. But Excel was enough for me

Identified the advantages of our cookies

That’s why we were stronger than our competitors:
Price. The cost of cookies is 67 rubles per kilogram with an average market price of 120 rubles. Very cheap logistics and low labor costs affected;
The natural composition. The composition gave a great advantage, because buyers are really afraid of food chemistry. The product was suitable even for baby food, it could be sold to mothers;
Local production. I assumed that people would be interested in supporting a startup from their hometown. And Yes, it worked for some.
From this information, I made a commercial offer. There is a huge amount of material about the preparation of the CP, but I recommend the article by Daniil Shardakov.

Armed with all this splendor, I went to sell.

With stores “at home” did not work

I started with small local stores and followed two scenarios.

Called on the “cold” contact, sent KP and called back

And often customers called back themselves, because we made the product, without jokes, good and very inexpensive.

I also went to stores that didn’t have a phone

He would fall like a snowball on the cashier’s head, asking for the contact of the store owner or someone who communicates with suppliers. In most cases, of course, the phone was not given, so I left my number and CP. Then I was talking to a businessman. Or not contacted.

At that time, I got to know the city much better, its alleys and courtyards. Eventually, the suburbs — Then the suburbs. Later — the nearest villages. Worked for almost all potential customers in Khabarovsk and the surrounding area, it was an interesting experience.

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