Grocery Guru Episode #35: How to Become a Supplier to a UK/European Supermarket Using S.E.L.L.I.N.G.

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Making Business Matter (MBM)
Making Business Matter (MBM)
Grocery Guru Episode #35: How to Become a Supplier to a UK/European Supermarket Using S.E.L.L.I.N.G.
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Become a Supermarket Supplier with S.E.L.L.I.N.G

Join Andrew Grant and Darren A. Smith in the thirty-fifth episode of the Grocery Guru. They discuss how to become a supplier to a UK/European Supermarket using their acronym of S.E.L.L.I.N.G. that helps you to get ‘a foot in the door’.

Plastic vegetable and fruit crates in a row on supermarket shelves.

Use S.E.L.L.I.N.G. to help you become a supermarket supplier

You Can View the Full S.E.L.L.I.N.G Transcript Below

Darren A. Smith:

Welcome to episode 35 of the Grocery Guru. We are here with that guru. Andrew Grant, how are you?

Andrew Grant:

Morning Das, yes, very good, thank you.

Darren A. Smith:

All right. Good, good. You’re off to buy a house soon. So we’re going to make it snappy and grab a bit of your time.

Andrew Grant:

Yeah, maybe we should do negotiate. I think whether it’s all about selling, maybe you should do negotiation based on what I’m up to today.

Darren A. Smith:

All right. You and I were together yesterday at the Algerian trade conference. How was that?

Andrew Grant:

Well, virtually. I don’t think we were actually in Algeria. I didn’t notice, but yeah.

Darren A. Smith:

We were. We were. And what came out of that was there was an audience of about 200. There was the minister of trade on the top table. You and I were virtually there as well, offering advice on suppliers who want to become suppliers to UK and European supermarkets. And you and I found a whole bunch coming out of that from the questions they asked. So I’m going to drill into your head and see if we can bring some of that back for viewers today.

Andrew Grant:

Yeah. Well, what struck me was just how desperately keen overseas buyers are to get into Brexit Britain.

Darren A. Smith:

Yes.

Andrew Grant:

They really see us as a land of new opportunity and yeah, they’re desperate to do trade with the UK.

Darren A. Smith:

So thinking about your years in supermarkets, what made you want to select this supplier as a supplier and not this one?

Andrew Grant:

Yeah. Now that’s a good question. Because I still remember. Particularly when I did produce and a lot of those Algerian suppliers were produce suppliers. I’d get faxes every week with, “Oh, we can supply your melons for X.” And it was always half what I was currently paying, but I never did business with them. Because you’ve got to be able to trust the supplier. And you’ve got to know that they do the basics in terms of technical and logistics. So can they get the stuff to you? And is it not going to be full of harmful chemicals and stuff when it gets out? Are the two most important things. But what always struck me and I know I’ve used the analogy before is very often new suppliers, particularly those from abroad would just not do their homework.

Darren A. Smith:

Yeah.

Andrew Grant:

And I would sit there thinking I was almost like a travel agent. “How may I help you today? Yes. Let me guide you through the process of S.E.L.L.I.N.G to me and let me write the tickets out for you and the itinerary. And here’s your seat number. And would you like a drink before your meal?” Honestly, it was… Some of the basics they didn’t do was scary.

Darren A. Smith:

It was. And when we work with current clients and some are suppliers… Who want to become suppliers to supermarkets. One of the things we’re trying to share with them is they’ve got to do their homework. And that’s blindingly obvious, yet we are still surprised by how many that don’t. How many that don’t know how many depots Tesco have or Sainsbury’s have and how the supply chain works.

Andrew Grant:

Well. That’s… I think it’s common courtesy, especially in this day of the internet, to know how many stores a supermarket group has, what fascias they operate on, what their advertising timeline is. That is really basic stuff. If you or I have gone for an interview, you actually bother to find out who your prospective employer is, what they make, how they operate. And it just stick in me because effectively a new supplier is going for an interview when they’re meeting a buyer.

Darren A. Smith:

Right.

Andrew Grant:

So I think that’s common courtesy. And if they don’t even know how many stores a retail has, they should be shown the door instantly. But then another level down, one of the common things I find particularly in chilled food, is they don’t understand just how sophisticated and just in time the chilled supply chain is in the UK.

Darren A. Smith:

Yeah.

Andrew Grant:

They’re staggered when you say you’ll get day one for day one orders. “What do you mean day one for day one?” “Well, you get an order at 8:00 AM and you’ll have to be in [RDTC 00:04:21] by 4:00 PM that afternoon. Oh, and by the way, they’ve got 28 of them.”

Darren A. Smith:

Yes.

Andrew Grant:

And you can see their heads just exploding.

Darren A. Smith:

And the other point I heard came out of the conference yesterday, you made a very good point around adding value or a USP. Would you just share more with these guys around what you were talking about at the Algerian-

Andrew Grant:

Yes. That’s probably the third level for me. So level one, common courtesy know how many… Yeah, know who you’re S.E.L.L.I.N.G to. Level two, get the technicalities right. So can you deliver, do you know what safety standards and hygiene standards they insist on? Do you know what the logistics operation is? But then it is about how can you add value to their business? And that’s the sophisticated way of selling that we train, it’s needs based selling. So who are their shoppers? What do their shoppers want? What are the needs that they’re trying to deliver for their shoppers? So on a really basic level, are they going to need to go up market, are they going to need to go down market? Are they value driven? How important are promotions?

But on a much more sophisticated level that we spend a lot of time with UK suppliers on, it is what is the biggest strategic challenge facing an Asda at the moment or a Tesco at the moment? How do they stop the erosion of their shoppers to the likes of Aldi and Lidl? That’s probably the biggest strategic challenge for the big four is how do we range, price and promote to stop the inexorable bleed to Aldi and Lidl.

Darren A. Smith:

You just reminded me of a wonderful story. I think his name was Ronnie [Owlback 00:06:08] , but I’ll have to check that, the founder of Goo. And he said that he created some packaging or his design team created some packaging, he put it on a shelf in Waitrose, it was just a piece of packaging. There’s nothing in it but you wouldn’t know. And he checked from up to the aisle to see how many people picked it up to see whether he might be able to sell it. And every time he put it there, it got picked up within 10 seconds. When he put it back, it obviously went to the customer, it’s fake pizza packaging. Put it back in, someone else picked it up. And he thought, “Actually, I’ve got a good business there.”

Andrew Grant:

Yeah. Yeah. [crosstalk 00:06:40] yeah. In terms of standout and impact. Yeah. So it was at different levels with different suppliers, but as far as the very busy people, they’ve got their own businesses to run, but it does often surprise me. But they don’t treat it like it’s a personal job interview. Anybody that goes for a job interview, that’s a big thing in your life or your career. You spend a lot of time prepping and covering the questions you may get asked, the challenges that may get thrown at you. And yet, you and I have both been staggered over the years at the lack of prep and almost the ignorance that is sometimes shown.

Darren A. Smith:

Yeah, it is shown. Just finishing up, we’ve come up with this mnemonic S.E.L.L.L.I.N.G with seven parts, just going to start two seconds on that. And then we’ll let you go and negotiate with the state agents.

Andrew Grant:

Yeah. Well, it’s a seven-step pneumonic, is it? Is that what you call it?

Darren A. Smith:

Mnemonic, yeah.

Andrew Grant:

Pneumonic. I call it an acronym. But anyway, acronyms, you, mnemonics, me. Yeah. It’s a seven step and I’m sure you’ll put a link on the end of this webinar. But the seven things you need to do to prepare to effectively sell. I won’t go through each of them, we’ve covered the most important ones, which is shopping knowledge, educate yourself about the customer. What insights have you got that will differentiate you from the rest of the pack? Legislation, do you know how [G Scott 00:08:25] can protect you? And if you do get into a contractual discussion with a retailer, you need to know what supply agreement is written. Supplier agreement and ensure it is drafted correctly. So a nice, simple mnemonic as you call it. But actually if you are planning a meeting with a retailer in the next week or so, that’d be a really good starting point.

Darren A. Smith:

All right, Andrew, thank you very much for your guruness. Best of luck buying a house. I will talk to you next week.

Andrew Grant:

Okay. Take care.

Darren A. Smith:

Take care. Bye.

Take a look at the S.E.L.L.I.N.G video on our YouTube Channel. Also, check out our award-winning blog.

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