4 Elements Of A Standout Go-To-Market Pitch

May 18, 2023By Views

By Dave Wendland, for Forbes Agency Council, as appeared on Forbes.com

Preparation is critical when bringing a product to market or introducing it to a retailer — especially considering that most new products fail. From my 30-plus years of CPG experience and helping brands go to market, I have seen my share of triumphant, compelling pitch presentations and total flops.

In today’s marketplace, getting the pitch right can make the difference between earning space on the shelf (virtual or physical) and being left in the cold. Here are some important things to keep in mind.

Tell the right story
Once you have determined which accounts you’d like to target, your research should focus on understanding their business goals. This way, you can customize your presentation to cover what you know is important to them. Additionally, you should become familiar with their culture or “personality” so you can illustrate how your products would be a perfect fit.

For example, one retailer may be embarking on a major initiative to make their stores more customer-friendly, and you could point out how your bold, clean packaging supports that initiative because it is easy for shoppers to spot.

As another example, perhaps a retailer has deployed an aggressive multichannel strategy. In that case, you could outline how your products support and align with that strategy — maybe you’ve developed SEO-optimized content or prepared web-ready text and images that could help them build their online or e-commerce presence.

Once appointments have been set with the buyers you’ve targeted, you can start creating your presentation that illustrates the business case for carrying your product(s).

The details matter
It is essential to have a presentation prepared to convince buyers that your product can generate category sales and increase profits—and therefore, deserves space on their shelves. What should your presentation consist of, and what will help you stand apart from your competitors?

You’ll need more than a PowerPoint or a couple of sell sheets to make a strong impression. You need to zero in on the key business imperatives of each individual account. Your business case should consist of:

  • Description of your product.
  • Features and benefits.
  • Go-to-market plan.
  • Pricing and margin strategy.
  • Compelling rationale of how your products fit into the overall category.
  • Merchandising strategy, including accurate and professionally produced planograms showing where on the shelf your product will perform best with supporting industry sales data and objective category insights to build your placement rationale.
  • Market basket analyses showing the incremental sales potential with your product included, and the consumer decision tree supporting your proposition.
  • A summary of your marketing plans that demonstrate how you plan to promote your product to drive sales.

Deliver the ‘wow’ factor
After assembling your information, reviewing the data and creating a strong, balanced presentation, you need to work on the “wow” factor. What will make the buyer take notice? How do you stand out from the rest of the competition?

Foremost, be sure to outline the specific consumer needs that your brand meets. Your product may offer significant innovation, and that in itself will be the basis of your story. Maybe you have a sales projection that will make you stand out. Or perhaps your marketing plans are really strong.

Throughout your pitch, be sure to listen to the feedback the buyer provides.

Build a relationship
After the event, don’t neglect to follow up with the buyers to either keep trying to reach an agreement or to start working together. If you were not able to convince the buyer at the event, you should have heard reasons why your product doesn’t align. Once you’re back at the office you can meet with your support team to determine how to modify your offering to meet whatever the buyer identified as shortfalls.

Whether you forged a business deal or are still working toward one, continue to build on your relationships with the buyers. In addition to understanding their organizations’ business goals, fostering a relationship can be rewarding in many ways. At the very least, getting to know the buyers will help you better customize your next presentation.

Here are four key takeaways from this article that will give you a much-needed competitive advantage when meeting with retailers:

  • Step up to the plate. To gain distribution in food, drug and mass, including wholesalers/distributors, it is essential to dig into the account and gain the necessary knowledge (as I discussed above) about their operation.
  • Make the call. For the majority of retailers and wholesalers, a once-a-year presentation opportunity is all that is available. Being prepared and making a great impression matter.
  • Focus on your delivery. Approaching pitch presentations with the buyer’s objectives in mind is part of a winning formula. But emphasizing how and where the brand will be a partner in the relationship can be a tipping point.
  • Follow through. Remain in contact with meeting participants and ensure that all bases were covered during the presentation.

The most important lessons I’ve learned throughout my career of helping brands come to market is to know your audience, be prepared, and speak competently and confidently. Taking the right steps toward a brand introduction can help you achieve success.