According to Foodservice Equipment & Supplies’ 2014 Operator Purchasing Study, among foodservice operators looking to purchase equipment or food items, 75% conduct their own extensive research prior to making a buying decision.
Fast forward to an update of that 2014 operator survey, the 2016 Operators Purchasing Study, which found that when researching a piece of equipment, foodservice operators use a variety of avenues, but most begin the process on their own before even contacting a dealer or sales rep. They turn primarily to the following resources:
- Trade publications
- Trade shows
- Your website
This ranking of touchpoints by no means signals that direct marketing or webinars are not effective. We’ve seen significant ROI on emails and triple-digit leads for webinars. What is evident is the prevalence of the pre-purchase buyer journey, independent of the sales rep and/or dealer.
Recent research and Google Analytics reports have shown a heavy dose of product research from manufacturer websites and YouTube, the no. 2 search engine next to Google. Peer-to-peer sharing of videos is up, along with mobile consumption for chefs, operators and purchasing agents constantly on the go.
It’s absolutely critical that sales and marketing work together, especially with VIP-based national accounts like chain restaurants or grocery stores. The timeframe from consideration to purchase can last 1 to 3 years, and there are often competitive threats vying for the business. By deploying a steady stream of marketing communications, you can stay top of mind and increase your visibility and ultimate likelihood of closing the deal.
There is no official formula for the mix of touchpoints, but the central nervous system for any manufacturer is a CRM platform that sales reps are required to adopt. From trade show leads to gated whitepapers or videos, the ability to track buyer activity is paramount. It may be annoying at the start, but sales will find it rewarding and profitable, and marketing can better justify its existence.