Properly onboarding your food broker is a crucial step in your journey toward sales growth.
This process requires:
- Pre-Training Preparation
- In-Person Training
- Customer Service Team Training
- Broker Ride-Withs
- Objective Planning
Let’s first discuss the training part…
This is one of the most haphazardly planned areas of onboarding a new food broker. A broker must learn thousands of sku’s across multiple brands, so if the training isn’t done right, their results will reflect that.
Front loading your time and resources to properly train your food broker on day one will reduce the need to constantly re-train your broker forever.
After the contract is signed, it’s time to send in samples and get a training date on the calendar.
Every broker’s schedule is different, so it’s important to be proactive… First come, first serve!
As your training day nears, you’ll want to prepare the following in advance:
- Stocking Guides: This is the most overlooked training tool that most don’t provide. Brokers must know where your product is stocked locally.
- Powerpoint Presentation: Build out an interactive presentation. The shorter the better.
- Pricing: Prepare updated FOB pricing. For your core items, determine the average portion cost with a 20% distributor markup.
- Flash Drive & Dropbox: Upload everything to a portable flash drive or a Dropbox account so they can have it in one place.
Putting in the time to be prepared is time consuming, but the most prepared usually get a better return on investment… Especially early on.
In-Person Training Day
Do NOT do a virtual training over an in-person one. Virtual trainings are easier and more cost effective, but the amount of distractions that exist make it hard for everyone to stay engaged. In-person trainings should be interactive, engaging, and full of the most pertinent information. Focus on what questions customers typically ask and train your brokers so that they can confidently answer those.
After you conclude your Powerpoint presentation, sample your core items. This can be done in 2 ways:
- On Its Own
- Incorporated into a Recipe
The best trainers cut against their competitor’s products. Your brokers will face the competition eventually, best to prepare them with you there.
Customer Service Team Training
This is an oft neglected group when it comes to training. These are the people who will be working in the trenches for you daily handling customer complaints and questions. They’re customer facing and it’s best to ensure they are trained.
At Portillo Sales & Marketing, we take great pride in our Customer Service Team. For each of our clients, we require the following:
- Current Distributor Info & Contacts
- Warehouse Locations
- Manufacture Contacts
- Ordering Procedures
- Sampling Policies
- Updated Pricing
Take the time to sit one-on-one with the broker’s customer service team. They’ll be your lifeline when it comes to problems and communications.
The most value your broker sales reps will gain comes when you meet with customers together in the field. They can witness how you make your presentation, overcome objections, and close the sale. However, I would NOT recommend asking your broker to set up ride-withs until AFTER your in-person training is done. Brokers need to be properly trained first instead of rushed out to set appointments for products they know nothing about yet.
Allow them time to digest the training, get out to see their customers, and then follow up with a ride-with.
Once training is complete and the team feels comfortable with your product line, it’s time to meet with the broker’s leadership team and establish mutually agreed upon goals. This should be a collaborative effort. It’s ok to take the first quarter or two of your relationship together to set easier, attainable goals to get a feel for each other’s capabilities.
I hope you found this guide helpful and just remember, the more time and effort you put in to onboarding your next food broker, the greater return on investment you will get!
The very best,
P.S. in case you missed my last article, make sure to check out the 7 Steps to Hire Your Next Food Broker.
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