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Domenick Celentano

How to Sell to Whole Foods? I want to hear your story?

By August 23, 2012

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Whole Foods CaliforninaEvery client that comes to my consulting firm wants to know How to Sell to Whole Foods. There is something aspirational for start-up and early stage food companies... it is akin to a badge of sorts validating the brand and the entrepreneurs hard work. So, do you have experience selling to Whole Foods? Do you know someone who has? Are you a food broker, brand manager, food entrepreneur?

I want to Interview You

If you answered yes to the above, I want to interview you for a feature story. Why? Selling to Whole Foods is far more than having a great tasting product that is natural or organic. It requires understanding how to pitch your brand in a way to show you understand how to meet their Merchant needs as well their Marketing needs? You are not sure what I mean? That's why you need to learn how to sell to Whole Foods and why I am writing this series of articles to help you get prepared for that first buyer appointment.

How to Sell to Whole Foods Article Outline

The article on How to sell to Whole Foods will focus on learning what it takes to get on the shelf and get on to consumers plate. This is a general outline for you to consider, HOWEVER I will be interviewing you so DO NOT write an article. Only send a brief one-pager to me which helps me determine if your story can be published. Send me an email at foodbeverage.guide@about.com with a brief outline of your experience at selling to Whole Foods.

Investing in Food First

What did you do in your new product development to make your product attractive for the Whole Foods customer?

Selling to Whole Foods is Aspirational

Why do you set your goal to sell your products in Whole Foods?

Hurdles

What hurdles did you overcome? Some hurdles are finding the right team leaders and "local" coordinators. How to approach them? What do they need to hear? How do these people get you to the right person at regional? How will it get to the shelf such as working within the DSD requirements at Whole Foods? Distributors you move to as you get larger?

Potential Rejections

Every sales call has potential areas for rejection... hurdles that can stop the discussion with the buyer. It happens to the big guys as well. Did you get rejected for issues related to Whole Foods requirements for ingredients, claims, flavors, label, nutritional facts, etc? Did you incorrectly enter key information into the Whole Foods Vendor Portal, which many of you say has numerous and complex questions you may never have considered?  has lots of questions and it is a complex decision tree.

Certifications

What were the certifications you obtained, such as Fair trade, Rainforest Alliance, TransFair USA, Kosher, Organic, etc. How did you conform to shipping specifications, logistical requirements, where is the product produced, warehoused? How about shelf life, storage and handling requirements, insurance?

Portal Info You Need to Know

What was your experience with the Whole Foods Vendor Portal? Were you fully prepared the first time or did you need to go back multiple times before approval?

The Whole Foods Sales presentation

How did you create your presentation balancing the merchant needs and marketing needs? What was missing that the buyer was looking for? How did you learn to create the correct sell sheet and specification sheets? Did you investigate your finished package to insure it will confirm to Whole Foods specifications before your buyer pitch?

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