In today’s economic climate, businesses are trying to gain the upper hand by taking advantage of every selling opportunity. Smart business executives put together a strategic sales plan that gives the company a competitive advantage. Using social marketing methods in that plan is essential for changing consumers’ buying behaviors.
Explore this issueDecember/January 2011
To create a safe food supply, we must develop a strategic sales plan that includes social marketing methods to sell food safety behavior to our employees. We need to ask ourselves, “Is employee behavior as important to food safety as food science?” Of course it is. For the past two years, every food safety conference has focused on creating a food safety culture and changing the behavior of food employees. This change in focus has been a great reminder that as food scientists we need to put “people” into our food safety management equation.
Let’s dive deeply into different selling strategies that have been proven effective over time and use them as part of our food safety management system. To do this, we’ll need to step away, look at our business from the outside, and think like entrepreneurs.
Believe to Achieve
The first rule of sales is that you must believe in what you are selling. You must move from being committed to food safety to being converted to practicing food safety. The words committed and converted are defined as:
• Committed—com•mit•ted (adjective): devoted, devoted to somebody or something such as a cause or relationship.
• Converted—con•vert•ed (verb): to be changed in character, form, or function.
As an adjective, the word “committed” is passive. It is a decision that you make, not an action. But the word “converted” is a verb, involving action. Once you are converted, you do not just believe in something, you change your behavior to reflect your conversion. Working in food safety is more than a job, it is a calling—a calling to protect your customers’ health and safety first.
When you are converted to practicing food safety, you take action to convert others, too. Converting employees to practice food safety usually occurs over an extended period of time, but conversion can happen more quickly if certain events occur, such as a foodborne illness outbreak, a large recall due to pathogenic contamination, or when employees are given the right tools to make following food safety practices easier.
Selling food safety must start at the top and work its way down. Start with converting your executive team. And be passionate. Passion is contagious. When you have a real passion for what you do, others will join you. Your passion for food safety should show in everything you do. When it becomes contagious, you will see food safety become second nature to all of your employees.
Tactics and Strategy
Develop a strategic plan of selling food safety to your employees. Plan your sales activities, including determining the methods you will use to reach employees, integrating food safety into every aspect of the business, and identifying the resources and tools that are available to you. Your tactics should involve the day-to-day selling of food safety: talking to colleagues, making sure that the message is getting to your employees, and following up on that message.
Strategic plan development begins with research. Learn how to make food safety a driver of business success. Communicate food safety in familiar business terms. Define food safety goals in every segment of your company’s business goals. Remember that food safety is the foundation of any food business. It is what keeps food companies in business, because customers expect the food they purchase to be wholesome and safe for their families and friends. Food safety should be supported across all functions of the organization.