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How a global dairy producer grew sales by 273% despite the pandemic and lockdowns

Martin Müller

Content Lead

In a nutshell:

  • 273% sales growth during the most challenging times for the channel
  • 115 new customers during 2021
  • Tailor-made flexible support from SharpGrid, reacting to changing priorities
  • More efficient sales reps due to accurate, easy-to-use and actionable data
  • Direct market entry without middlemen, increasing portfolio value

DISCLAIMER: Our client, a global dairy company, agreed to share the case study anonymously for competitive add strategic reasons. We will therefore refer to them only as “the company” or “our client” to honor this agreement.

The Challenge: Enter the market and get the most out of it

After its success in the off-trade channel, our client - one of the biggest global dairy companies with a revenue in billions of € - decided to enter the on-trade market in Czechia. It chose to do so at one of the most difficult moments in the industry's history when the Covid-19 pandemic was in full swing. But against all odds, it ended up growing 273% during the 2021's winter and spring on-trade closures (one of the biggest on-trade crises in history). The support by SharpGrid was an integral part of this success.

  • To get the most out of the on-trade market, our client needed precise and exhaustive information about the market as a whole, as well as about each individual outlet.
  • With a small team at his disposal, our client needed the data to be accurate, easy to work with and clean to ensure maximum usability.
  • Both the sales reps and their manager needed to pinpoint the outlets with the highest potential to use their time as efficiently as possible and prepare for negotiations.
  • With the arrival of the big lockdown in spring 2021, they had to immediately change their focus to the outlets that were still operational.

In the end, we made it possible for our client to directly enter the on-trade channel without relying on middlemen such as wholesalers. As a result, the company was able to get the most value out of its portfolio of brands and products even during the most challenging times. How did we go about this? 

The solution: precise and crystal clear on-trade data to plan your commercial activities

Our client needed precise, comprehensive and up-to-date market data to help its sales team pinpoint the most attractive outlets. This is when our products Outlet Census and Market Meter came into play by describing every single outlet in the market in rich detail with dozens of qualitative indicators allowing the sales team to evaluate each outlet, find opportunities like hidden outlets and prepare for negotiations. In addition, we have updated the target list as the pandemic and lockdowns impacted the channel severely.  

"I open the map and immediately see all the customers including every detail, allowing me to tell my sales team: Let's go here, this should be our focus," explains our client's Senior Area Sales Manager SharpGrid's benefits for his team. 

The key for our client was the ability to find and target the right customers and get as much information as possible about them to increase the chances of closing the deal. By working with us, the sales team was able to determine the size or growth potential of the targeted company, or if there are other outlets operated by the same company. In other words, understanding the overall potential of clients and correctly identifying major opportunities.

"Thanks to your data, I know 80-90% of the time how the meeting will go, how difficult it will be, who I'll be talking to, how they'll behave and what I need to prepare for. It's much easier for us to build relationships with customers because we now go into meetings knowing the customer in advance," adds the manager.

In this case, our data was also useful when approving acquisitions through our client's international headquarters. For example, a single hotel alone would not be of interest to a company of this size, but thanks to our data, a sales rep or manager can uncover ties to a much larger chain of outlets, therefore making the customer much more relevant to the company's core business.

Although retailers and their managers usually have some data, it tends to be incomplete, inaccurate and outdated, as the on-trade channel is constantly changing, outlets come and go, brands' positions shift quarter-to-quarter and so on. But thanks to us, our client now has the market covered down to the last outlet without collecting data manually.

"The most impactful benefit is time-saving. I can find a lot of things on my own, but time is getting scarcer and scarcer. With you, I have all the information in one place and can access it very quickly," says the manager, adding: "It's also great for sales reps who have their entire work stored on a tablet and can plan their travel and acquisition activity accordingly."

Flexibility is also crucial. During the lockdown, we helped our client to quickly move from traditional on-trade outlets to the social sector such as schools and hospitals. This way, he managed not only to keep the business up and running but actually grow it several times over

The Conclusion: Massive growth during the most challenging times for the on-trade channel

"Tomorrow we are delivering goods to a client we have been trying to win for 2.5 years. We succeeded thanks to you," notes the manager. "The doors were closed to us at the beginning, but thanks to your data we managed to get in touch with the right people and got our foot in the door. The approval in France was also very quick. Normally it takes about 14 days, but with your data, it was done in an hour."

Despite the unprecedented disruption of all activities in the on-trade channel, the complete closure of all restaurants, bars and other outlets, the collapse of many customers and the caution of those who survived the whole lockdown ordeal, our client managed the following:

  • Grow 273% during the lockdown to May 2021. 
  • Bring in 115 new customers in 2021
  • Go from 39 tonnes of goods sold to 190

"SharpGrid is responsible for 35-40% of the acquisition assistance and 80-85% of the negotiation preparation. In addition, your data is so clean that it doesn't hold me up in my work, which is a key factor for me. You have definitely helped us to acquire customers that we would have never found without you," says our client's manager, summing up the benefits of SharpGrid's products and our successful cooperation.

READ MORE: Heineken successfully implements a data-driven sales transformation in the on-trade channel

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