How Frost Popsicles Crushes its Virtual Buyer Meetings 2/25/2021
Suppliers looking for a great in-the-trenches example of how they can ace their virtual buyer meetings will find a great one with Natasha Fagri, Co-Founder of Frost Popsicles, who has participated in two virtual sessions last year and is already seeing success from her meetings. What's more, in each session she participated in Discovery Hub meetings, which are only five minutes in length. So how is she able to create a quick pitch that get's her full value proposition across to buyers, and still leave time for questions? In this interview, she shares the steps she took to execute these successful meetings.
Frost Popsicles offers a range of seven all-natural alcoholic popsicles, or “poptails,” as Fagri likes to refer to them, as well as several non-alcoholic popsicles. She and her business partner launched the brand in 2016 in South Africa after seeing a similar concept in Europe and knowing she could improve on it. “We undertook 13 months of product development,” she says. “Neither of us came from a food science background, but we have that entrepreneurial sort of spirit where you see something, and you automatically start thinking on how you can improve on it.”
After seeing success in South Africa, her goal was to expand into the U.S. retail market. She moved operations to California, which she viewed as her “springboard state” to establish her brand presence in this country. However, just as she started building steam, the pandemic struck.
Fortunately, as a RangeMe member, Fagri learned of ECRM’s virtual programs, and since her products straddle two categories, she decided on participating in both the Frozen Foods and On Premise Adut Beverage sessions, each of which were having concurrent meetings during the same week in August. “COVID impacted the way vendors could meet and interact with buyers,” says Fagri. “But ECRM was pivotal in assisting us in getting in front of them with limited travel options.”
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Here is how Fagri made the most of her ECRM Connect experience:
Leveraging ECRM’s tools and resources
During the entire prep process Fagri worked closely with ECRM’s Client Success Managers (CSMs) to make sure that she was familiar with all of the tools she would be using during her preparation and meetings. This is something we highly recommend for any participants; they are THE experts at ensuring a great virtual experience on ECRM Connect platform.
“If you are going to be on a platform that you’ve never used before, and using a process you are not familiar with, you need to take advantage of any resources at your disposal, and the live coaching call with the ECRM staff was very beneficial,” she says. “They hosted a run through on the platform where they participated as the buyer, and took me through all of the platform tools, made sure my settings were optimized and answered any questions I may have had, and showed me how to load up my profile so the buyers could get a good sense of my products and business before we meet.”
Following the 5 steps
A few months ago, we posted a blog titled, “5 Steps to a Perfect Virtual Buyer Meeting,” in which CPG food and beverage expert Alli Ball provided recommendations for suppliers crush their buyer meetings in today’s virtual world. And Ball knows what she’s talking about; she is a former buyer and host of the Food Biz Wiz podcast, and in her consulting business works with emerging food and beverage brands to help them succeed at retail.
Fagri is a member of Ball’s Retail Ready online course, and actually applied these five steps in her preparation for her ECRM Connect buyer meetings. Here is how she did it.
Step 1: Identifying her ‘Why’
This was the foundational part of the entire prep, according to Fagri, not only identifying why she developed her products, but also why it should matter to the buyer. “My why was bringing a unique product proposition to the market that would leverage its aggressive global growth in what is basically a fairly new category,” she says. “I then needed to articulate to the buyer the reasons that my why benefits their bottom line.”
Step 2: Preparing her materials
As Fagri was participating in both the Frozen and Off Premise Adult Beverage programs, she needed a presentation for each. And since she was participating in the 5-minute Discovery Hub meeting option, her presentations had to be concise and impactful. Her goal was to present for three-and-a-half minutes and leave a minute-and-a-half for buyer questions. This requires a lot of research on the buyers she'd be meeting with.
“You have to have the key information that speaks to the buyer,” she says. “Not what your mom thinks is cool, not what you think is interesting, but what actually speaks to the commercial objectives of the buyer, because that’s all they care about. You also want to give the buyer an opportunity to ask any pressing questions.”
To learn the needs and objectives of those buyers she would be meeting with, she spent lots of time on the ECRM Connect prep site, which provides detailed information for each buyer as well as their goals and objectives for the category. Armed with this information, she created a short slide deck with general information that would address most of the buyers and sketched out plans on how to tailor her presentation to select buyers’ more specific needs.
“You have to do your homework,” says Fagri. “You need to have some knowledge around what the buyer’s objectives are, because while my presentation deck was the same for everyone, I’d throw in key extra nuggets for one buyer that might be different from what I would say to another. For example, you might be presenting to a frozen buyer, but all that buyer might be interested in is private label for the Southwest region."
Once her slide decks were completed, she took the extra step of soliciting feedback by sharing them with other brand-owners who are members of Alli Ball’s private Food Biz Wiz Facebook Group to solicit their feedback.
Step 3: Setting the scene
For her meetings, Fagri kept her background simple, yet visually effective, making good use of the space around her. For her setup, she sat in front of a white wall on which she affixed her products using double-sided tape, so it appeared as if she were surrounded by floating popsicles. “It immediately gave viewers a sense of my product lineup,” she says.
Step 4: Scripting it out
Since Fagri only had five minutes for each presentation, she had to be sure to nail all of her key points in three and a half minutes to leave time for Q&A with buyers. She scripted out her pitch and then condensed it to simple bulleted notes that she kept on either side of her screen so she could glance at them during her presentation and make sure that she stayed on track, without leaving out any vital information.
Step 5: Practice! Practice! Practice!
Not leaving anything to chance, Fagri practiced her pitch over and over again, timing it to make sure it was kept within the time frame she allotted herself. “My business partner got the pitch, my boyfriend heard the pitch,” she says. “Even my dog got the pitch.”
Strong prep is the key to success
The key to Fagri’s success is that she put in the work beforehand, researching the buyers and constantly honing her pitch during the prep stage so that during the live meetings everything flowed smoothly and naturally. Buyers were pleasantly surprised that she knew their needs and objectives and tailored her pitch around them, and that even with the 5-minute window of time they were able to ask questions. The results speak for themselves; in the coming months, her products will grace the shelves of several retailers.
In addition to the Alli Ball interview, ECRM has created several pieces of content to help brands get the most from there meeting experience. The following blog posts are available in the Education & Training section of the ECRM Connect Prep site, and we recommend that you check out each as you begin your meeting prep:
- Best Practices for Buyers & Sellers Participating in ECRM Virtual Programs
- Virtual Engagement Tips from a Three-Time Emmy Award-Winning Journalist
- Delivering Awesome Virtual Buyer Presentations: How Total Cluster Fudge Does It
- Delivering an In-Person Experience, Virtually: How Herbally Yours Does It