Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Arm Chair Sales Manager

This is an experiment. I get many questions regarding what it would be like to do business in Argentina. For those of you who do not know our story I will give you a short summary.

We started baking cookies out of our home after I begged my wife to try it just for the hell of it. I would go around with a Tupperware in hand visiting the local bars and cafes of Palermo Viejo.

The demand and interest soon started to grow for our homemade cookies. We soon rented a small space in Palermo Viejo and started to serve delicatessens, wine stores, and cheese and meat shops. We also noted that we would outgrow our new location quickly so we started to look for a new place.

Now we have a state of the art baking facility consisting of 600m2. We supply the same type of small independently owned shops that we did from the beginning but we also supply some bigger clients as well. Some of our clients include McDonald’s, Falabella, Aroma Café, Freddo, Munchi´s, The Coffee Store, Al Queso, queso, etc.

It is impossible to give an exact reason or explanation as to how we got from baking cookies at home to sending out pallets of cookies to major corporations. However, I could give you a glimpse into what happens client to client. This is where this experiment comes into play.

I want to give you the opportunity to play armchair sales manager. I will present you with either a target or new client. I will give as much information to you as possible and either a problem or a goal and you can give me comments as to what you would do or what you think I should do. You can pretend to be my coach, boss, or mentor.

I present the first case. In this case I will with hold the name of the client. I may or may not do that in the future. We will see how this evolves.

The Coffee Store

This is a new client for us. They have a chain of coffee shops throughout the city. For those of you in the States, it would be the closest thing to a Starbucks that we have. Our proposal to them was to present a low priced yummy alternative to what they were currently offering with their coffees in the shape of a cantucci (little biscotti). However, for us that product is a very low margin product and part of the agreement was that they would also buy from us Cookies as well as have our brand in their shelves, which they would buy on consignment (Sugar & Spice branded product). We would also develop new products for them down the line.

Four months have passed by and they seemed to be very pleased with our cantucci. The product on consignment sells well in some stores and in some others it doesn’t. This last point was to be expected. So far, they have not added any other products to their line-up. This, even though, one of their locations even went so far as to open packages that were on consignment to sell the cookies out of a jar. I have had meetings with them and have presented several options.

Our cookies are a high price alternative to what they currently have. My argument is that if they have better tasting, higher quality cookies, even though their margins might shrink a little bit, they will end up selling more.

What do you think? What should be my next move with this company? What would you do? If you need or want more information you could also ask me and I will do my best to answer you.

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