EPISODE 242: Nestle’s Dominic Strada Shares What Sales Professionals Must Do To Serve the Changing Consumer as Re-Openings Speed Up

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[EDITOR’S NOTE: This is a replay of the Sales Game Changers Panel Webinar hosted by Fred Diamond, Host of the Sales Game Changers Podcast, on June 10, 2020. It featured sales leader Dominic Strada from Nestle]

EPISODE 242: Nestle’s Dominic Strada Shares What Sales Professionals Must Do To Serve the Changing Consumer as Re-Openings Speed Up

Listen to Dominic Strada’s original Sales Game Changers Podcast.

DOMINIC’S TIP TO EMERGING SALES LEADERS: “If you’re not willing to change based on market conditions or whatever changes that day, you’re going to fail. Consumers are shopping different, they’re looking for different things. You’re dealing with different things internally whether it’s on the supply side or the people side so ask what do I need to start, stop and continue with my products, my route to market, my customer communications, my customer interaction and my people interaction.”

Fred Diamond: Dominic was a guest on the Sales Game Changers podcast almost a year ago today, it was one of my favorite interviews, it was almost like taking an MBA class. Dominic, it’s great to have you here. Nearly 50% of the people watching us on today’s webcast said they’re having difficulty connecting with customers. It’s interesting, you guys are on the front line, Nestle.

Again, you’re based down in Rosslyn, Virginia but when everything kicked in you were supplying food to the groceries and the Walmarts of the world. We’re going to talk today about some advice for sales professionals and you’re a top sales guy in the industry. Tell us what it was like, you were right there in the heat of things, you deal with the channel, you deal with supply chain, again you run sales for the Gerber product line and the Boost product line. Give us some thoughts on what it was like when things got started and then we’ll get to some of your advice on how you can be a better sales professional today.

Dominic Strada: I’ll be honest, it was chaotic because all of a sudden you started to see order patterns in frequency that candidly you’re not used to and most companies are built on platforms where you keep a certain number of days of supply in your warehouses to meet the daily demand and all of a sudden you start burning through what you think is 60 days of inventory in a week and a half and you just cannot manufacture and keep up with that. Fortunately we saw what was going on elsewhere and we increased our days of supply by over 30 days and that’s what helped keep our products in line. It’s different industries, if you’re talking of food business, for example our baby lines you can’t just produce and immediately send out, there’s safety checks that you need to go through.

If you deplete your inventory then you’re going to have an out of stock on the shelf for a couple extra weeks than you were experiencing. It was chaotic, it was making sure that you can get enough trucks, enough labor, enough raw material to keep your factories going. You were also concerned every day, “Was there a case of COVID that was going to be in the factory?” Because if that happened you could take out an entire shift, you could shut down an entire factory. That’s really what the major concerns were and our conversations with our customers moved away from things like promotions and price to demand, meeting demand, simplicity. How do we get our trucks in and out? How do we get our pallets in and out? How do we get to the store quicker, that last 100 feet? How do we make it easier for the consumer? Everything was different overnight because of what we were experiencing.

Fred Diamond: Talk about your customers for a second. Again, tell us who the customers were you were dealing with. You don’t sell directly to end users, I presume but you have the channel. One thing that we’ve been talking about over the course of the last 10 weeks that we’ve been doing four webcasts a week has been the types of conversations that you need to have with your customers. In a lot of cases these are customers who might be out of business, some of our people who are watching today’s webcast or who’ve been on past webcasts sell to the entertainment space. We had a supplier who sells food to theaters and obviously there’s not much going on right there. We’ve had people from sports teams who sell tickets, no one’s going to be in stadiums this year.

Tell us what your conversations were like at the time with some of your customers, I’m just curious. Did you have time to be empathetic with the major food distribution channels or were you on the phone around the clock trying to help get supply onto the shelves?

Dominic Strada: A lot of that was driven with conversations with our customers because we needed to make sure that we understood what their needs were, we really saw what was going on from their warehouse to the store. A lot of it had to do with there was stuff in the warehouse that wasn’t showing to the store because of labor which is why you’ve seen a lot of retailers condense their hours. I would say the level of communication with our customer base dramatically increased during this window because you’re working together at that point. It was as I said earlier, “How do we get the most product to you with the frequency that we need?” We’ve had various conversations so you look at scaling down your product lineup, less but being stocked with those, a lot of conversations went in there.

With some of our product line that has a government subsidized component to it like baby formula, making sure that that’s available for mom because she comes in with that voucher, she needs to buy that product, it needs to be in store so you can’t miss on that. Making sure that we met those needs really drove a lot of our conversations and I’ll say this, the retailers were really focused on, “How do I meet the demands of the consumer in a scenario that I haven’t experienced before?” I don’t remember anytime that I went into a store and saw entire gondola shelves clear from one end to the other unless they were stripping it to redesign. The other side of this was you were also trying to deal with e-commerce, you saw a lot of consumers switch to different platforms.

You said we don’t market directly to the consumer, we do, we have the Gerber store dot com where consumers can buy directly from us and that dynamic was taking shape at the same point. There was a lot of things about ultimately the consumer had a new demand or a new perceived demand and everybody from the retailer/manufacturer was trying to figure out, “Exactly what do we do to optimize all the assets to meet the need of today’s consumer which changed?” Today’s consumer was totally different than the consumer 24 hours before.

Fred Diamond: One of the reasons why we wanted to have Dominic on the show is he truly understands buyer behavior, he truly understands what intrigues and what motivates the end consumer for things and again, you also have a great understanding of the channel as well. Someone says here, “Talk to us more about the conversations you had with your customer then versus now.” One of the interesting things is we’ve seen things evolve and we were talking before the show about what it’s like to go into a supermarket. Four, five weeks ago it was horrible, people were afraid, the people who worked there were afraid, some of the smaller supermarkets cut back on their staff, like you said, there were rows and rows of products that weren’t available and limitations and court wasn’t available and then it was available. Tell us how the conversations with your channel, the people who sell your product and they do online as well but the critical channel that you deal with, how have those conversations evolved over the last couple weeks and what are they now?

Dominic Strada: I think the conversation in regards to dealing with the customer really hasn’t changed, the topic has changed. If you think about a historical relationship with the customer, you’d be going in there and talking a business plan from promotions, pricing, so on and so forth. When the pandemic hit and the mass buying started there was only one real focus, it was logistics. They didn’t want to promote, it wasn’t about dragging more consumers to my box which is really what most retailers want to talk about all the time. This was more about, “How do I make sure I have the most product I possibly can have so I meet the demand of my consumers that are walking in today?

Now we’re starting to go to phase 2, shopper behavior as changed as you referenced. What the consumer was looking to do six months ago is different from today, today it’s really about value and convenience. You now have 38 million + people who are out of work that weren’t six months ago so your conversation six months ago was premiumization. A lot of the conversation today is value and simplicity, “Get me in the store, get me the best value I can at the best price and by the way, I don’t want to have to come back to the store more than maybe once a week, once every other week.” I know from myself, from a personal standpoint I used to go to the store every couple days, whatever I felt like that day I was going to the store and buying. That mentality is changing because a lot of people want less physical contact or minimize physical contact and that has dramatically changed shopping behaviors along with the impact of supply chain.

The pressure on raw materials, ingredients is enormous right now, you see all the things in the news about beef and pork and so on and so forth, those trickle down to everything you buy. Your availability as a company to be able to source raw material that’s converted into your finished products is one of the other things that’s going to ensure supply and that’s still an ongoing conversation. First it was, “Ramp me up, meet my demands”, now we’re getting to, “How do we optimize?” We’re starting to see things simplify but there’s these certain categories or certain items that we’re seeing surge and staying. What’s our plan to address that and keep a higher level of inventory on those? Now as the consumer mindset is changing, how does our business plan need to change from what we built in January to what we need to build in July because consumer is different in July than they were in January? That’s really where the conversation has changed.

Fred Diamond: Someone said, “I’m not really familiar with the food distribution channel. What is the relationship typically like between a manufacturer such as Nestle and the channel?” Not online but typically I know you mentioned premiumization, you talked about things like that but is it a partnership, is it a tense relationship historically or is it teaming?

Dominic Strada: Most from a product supply standpoint is probably your most integrated relationships with your customers. There’s the commercial teams that are all about pricing differentiation, things of that nature but the logistics operations all have the same goals which is, “Let’s get the most product to the store, to the consumer so we meet all of our goals and satisfy the shopper.” Those relationships usually aren’t tense, there is pressure when as a manufacturer you’re unable to meet those needs. Then yes, because ultimately a consumer going to retail not finding what they want, there’s a high probability they’re going to leave and go somewhere else. Shopper goes somewhere else, has a good experience, there’s a good opportunity, they continue to use that channel for more other share of wallet than they did if they were able to find what they wanted in store #1.

That’s where the whole dynamic comes to play, if everything is operating and you’re meeting the KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) that you established with your customers from a supply chain, everything’s good. Fortunately as I said, we, because of our size and scale, put a lot of time and energy on logistics and it is and continues to be one of our separators. You and I talked to this before we got on, the world has changed, six months ago e-commerce provided a platform for anybody who wanted to sell something to be able to sell something, now the challenge is can you actually get the ingredients and raw materials you need to be able to build a sustained pipeline to meet the needs that I’m going to help you create? If you can’t answer yes to that, your access via an online platform doesn’t matter and that’s where I think you’re starting to see a shift a little bit too, it used to be, “Big companies are bad.”

There are benefits to big, there are benefits to small too, but it’s starting to come back to, “Big companies do provide value from a reliable supply chain with reliable ingredients tested in many different facilities to make sure they’re safe for everybody.” That’s helped us out tremendously in the last couple of months.

Fred Diamond: I want to also let people know that for a long part of your career you were running sales in North America for the Purina product line. What are you focused on right now? It’s interesting, when we started doing these four webcasts a week, the challenge was the pandemic. Everybody’s home, a lot of people weren’t used to working from home, we just talked about some of the global challenges, a couple weeks ago we’ve had some new challenges in our country as well and we’re having to be sensitive and different as business and sales leaders. How has that affected you and what are your priorities right now as a sales leader? Right now, this week of June 10th.

Dominic Strada: I don’t think it ever changes when you’re a leader of any kind, people are your #1 asset and I think situations like the last three months – and there’s two different situations we’re dealing with there, we’re dealing with the pandemic and then we’re dealing with some of the social unrest issues, and you’re dealing with everything in an environment that’s totally different than we used to have here. Not in an office environment, you’re remote, being in contact, keeping that cohesiveness, that is the biggest challenge for us as an organization. You went through phase 1, how do you deal with a different business dynamic which as we just talked about what was going on at retail, when your people are no longer able to communicate the way they used to either with the customer or internally?

They’re dealing with a lot of things on the home front that are completely different especially if you’re caring for an elder, a child, you have school aged kids, whatever. Then you have all the issues of the last couple weeks which bring some more social issues and what that does to part of your population that makes up your sales organization. We’re really focused on making our environment where people want to work. Ultimately we’re only as good as our people, it’s a time for organizations to actually prove that and that’s really what we focus on every day because nothing else matters. If I don’t have the team focused, committed and where they feel they can do their job, especially with all the noise that’s going around them, we’re going to fail.

Fred Diamond: Dominic, we have a question here from LinkedIn and the question says, “What’s been the biggest surprise for you or something that you’re most proud of that’s come out of the situation that we’ve been dealing with?”

Dominic Strada: I’m proud of the way our organization has stepped up and met the needs of our associates and of our consumers. I’m proud to say I work for Nestle, I look at all the different parts of our organization and Nestle has quite a diverse product lineup and you probably touch it every time you go up to every single aisle of a grocery store or of Walmart. We haven’t lost sight of who we are as an organization, we haven’t lost sight of our people and we haven’t lost sight of how we meet the needs of our consumers. I’m probably most proud of that. From a personal standpoint it’s being there for my team because again, you and I were talking about this briefly, this would not be the year I’d want to be a brand new people leader because you’re getting all kind of things thrown at you that truly challenge you as a leader to think, react and treat much differently than we probably would have historically.

If you look at things just from a pay perspective, we handle things where even if you had the most remote symptom, immediately you’re stay-at-home and it was paid stay-at-home for the extended period of time. It wasn’t about, “You’ve got to take your pay time off”, it was, “We want to do what’s right for the organization, we want you to be the safest because we want you back.” That to me is why I’m proud of to work for the organization that I work for because of the way they handle the people.

Fred Diamond: How have you changed as a sales leader in the past couple weeks? Have you seen an things that you’ve noticed how your interacting with people differently, how you’re leading the team, how you’re dealing with customers? Have you changed at all in the last couple months?

Dominic Strada: You can’t get comfortable in a style or a way of doing things, you have to be nimble and be able to react. I don’t think I’ve changed per se, the things I do and the way I may go about getting a result are probably different – in fact, they are because I’m dealing with a different dynamic with the way I interface with my customers and my team. The way you take a look at just assessing every day every moment of the day, “What do I need to do to win?” If you think you’re just going to keep repeating what you do day in and day out, you’re going to fail at some point so you have to be able to react. My old mentor used to always say – it’s a military statement – “No plan survives first contact with the enemy” and that’s just the reality. Anything you think about day to day you may think you’re going to go in and do X, things happen and when things happen if you’re not able to adapt and change, you’re going to fail. I think that’s been the mentality that I’ve had for years so the way I go about doing things may change but I don’t believe the way I’m approaching what needs to be achieved has changed.

Fred Diamond: The question comes in here, “What does Dominic expect of his salespeople?” Like you just said, the world’s changed, it’s different than it was and you said a couple of times that a lot of it goes back to a lot of the standard sales leadership strategies and techniques but again, you have a sales team around the country in North America. What do you expect from them today?

Dominic Strada: I expect the same thing I expect from them every day, do their jobs. How you do it in the time frame you’re able to do it, you have the flexibility. A lot of folks are now because of their childcare things working later at night doing things with their kids during the day, that’s fine. Make things work, all of us have things we’re responsible for, you get paid to do a job. I get paid to deliver very specific KPIs within the company, I have people hired to do very specific jobs with very specific KPIs, I still expect you to do it. Now, you may need different resources, you may tell me, “I need help here, here and here” that you didn’t in the past, we’ll work through that but the expectation of what the end game is doesn’t change.

We need to win in the market which means grow market share, we need to deliver against our growth numbers and you need to do that in a financially proper way while meeting the needs of our customers and our consumers. Those don’t change, those are like your commandments. The way you go about things can modify and change but I don’t expect anything different of them, I do expect my leaders to be a little more engaged, a little more hands-on because keeping that contact between the team and the cohesiveness is critical at a time like this.

Fred Diamond: How long has Nestle been around for? Over a hundred years, right?

Dominic Strada: Yes.

Fred Diamond: Well over a hundred, but again on March 12th all of a sudden everyone’s had to deal with new things. What has the company done or how have you helped your sales professionals? It was probably a pretty fast-paced intense experience to be a sales professional in your organization prior to this but now people have kids at home and we’re approaching summer time and every camp has been cancelled. Companies are starting to open the doors back to bring people in but there’s a lot of things out there. How are you helping your sales professionals deal with the additional stress or anxiety? They may not be showing them to you.

Dominic Strada: I think that goes back to some of the things we talked about, flexibility, empathy and trying to help out any way you can. I think it also exposes another thing when you look at it and you say, “What do we need to do going forward?” I think the work environment is going to be changed, I don’t know if we want to say forever because nothing in this industry is ever forever, but I think the dynamic of remote working from home or office-based, whatever office-based means is going to change at least for the next few years dramatically. I think as companies, everybody is evaluating that. What is the new norm going to be, what is the new level of flexibility going to be? Jobs that you thought were office-based or needed to be office-based, how has that dynamic changed if say, the key individuals can no longer come in because they’re dealing with things that you just mentioned?

I’ll be honest, that’s a challenge we’re all dealing with right now and I’ll give you an example. What we call our commercial development team is a link between the sales teams and the marketing teams and product supplies, so on and so forth. I call them the heart, all the information comes in and gets pushed back out. Not sitting in a hub with all those different disciplines nearby makes doing their job difficult because their job relies on communication between different groups and you’re seeing a stress of added conference calls. Because you’re not face-to-face you can’t have quick conversations to solve quick issues, they turn into 30 minute conference calls so the pressure on the time of your day because you have to add all these topics to get things done and they become more and more 30 minute calls layered on top of each other is going to be one of the things we’re going to have to tackle as an organization really quick. That for me is one of the major changes.

Fred Diamond: We have a question that comes in here which is, “What type of salespeople are you looking to hire right now?” We know that travel has decreased over the years and we know that people have been going more to virtual, everybody now at least understands virtual using Zoom and GoToMeeting, Webex, etc. If you were hiring new sales professionals – again, it’s the middle of June, 2020 – what would you be looking for in a sales professional moving forward?

Dominic Strada: I don’t think that would change, Fred, to be honest. The examples I may be looking to see how you would deal with something might change. For example, teamwork is one of the key things, working within team environment. That might change in the way we ask some of the questions in what we’re looking for because it may be, “How do you deal in a virtual team versus your personal interaction?” Customer communications, you’re going to have less time more than likely, at least in the short term, to be able to say, sit in front of Walmart and have a conversation. Everything we’re doing is like we’re doing today via video and you have less time to get your point across so your ability to communicate, you look at sales professionals, give me somebody who’s got the ability to work in a team, is driven, can think – thinking outside the box is an overused term.

What I like to say is, “If I give you a blank sheet of paper and I said I need us to win at customer X, could you fill in the plan or do you need the plan filled in and then you’re an executor?” I don’t want executors, I want thinkers, I want people who are passionate to win, committed to the company being better who can work in a team environment and can communicate. Those four things, they’re not going to change. I don’t think all of a sudden because of things that are going on skill sets, people you’re looking for, that doesn’t change. If anything, you could say, “Do the issues of the last couple of weeks put a little ore spin on diversity?” but as an organization that’s been a focus of ours for years. I honestly don’t see anything changing. I might want to pull very specific things out related to the new work environment when we actually get into an interview process.

Fred Diamond: Someone just sent me a quick question here and said, “How is Nestle practicing diversification?” You just mentioned a second ago that it’s not something you thought about three weeks ago, it’s something you’ve been working on for years. What are some of the things that Nestle is doing in that area? A little bit off topic here, but just curious.

Dominic Strada: I think if you’re in a major organization, if you haven’t been thinking about this it doesn’t mean you’re going to do everything right so let me be honest here. Does Nestle have room for improvement? Absolutely. Have we been actively engaged in trying to be better? Yes, we’ve made major leaps. For example, my old division in Purina started Women in Leadership which has become a hallmark of all of Nestle and you can see the number of women who have dramatically risen to higher levels in the organization because of programs like that. Our support for specific social causes and the way we as a company are loud and proud behind that. We can get into various debates whether that’s an area a company should be a part of or not but to be active to say, We want to look more and more like our consumer base so we have what’s important to our consumers built into our future plans” has been and will continue to be a key platform for us as an organization.

Fred Diamond: Someone asked a question here, I don’t know if it’s joking but I’ll ask anyway. “What are your recommendations for treating pets right now with products?” Again, I mentioned you led sales for Purina for a number of years and I feel so sorry for the dogs who are getting walked 6-7 times a day and it’s probably less now.

Dominic Strada: The pro of this was all the dogs were in shelters, from everything I’m reading most of the shelters are wiped out of dogs. I was with Purina for 28 years, my dog is a Pro Plan dog, I highly recommend Purina Pro Plan or Purina One for your dog. I think the new innovation that Purina just came out on the cat food side, Pro Plan Clear where if you’re allergic to cats this food will actually help either to lessen the severity or may eliminate that completely. You’ll see cat ownership be important going forward, I’m very proud of that organization and what they’ve done for pets and people for years.

Fred Diamond: Dominic, we have a question here. Again, you’ve been with the Nestle organization or the supply chain for close to 30 years.

Dominic Strada: 32 now, Fred.

Fred Diamond: I know that there was an acquisition at one point.

Dominic Strada: I was Ralston Purina for my first 12 years of the organization and then Nestle for the next 20.

Fred Diamond: We’ve got a question here from actually someone who’s from Saint Louis, where you lived for a number of years, thank you, Paul. The question is, “What are your recommendations for new college grads who want to go into sales as they execute their job search?”

Dominic Strada: I would say come on in. Go to the companies’ web pages, all of the jobs are posted. If you go to nestlecareers.com, we list all of our openings. Now, make sure you pay attention to what the requirements are, you don’t want to go out there and apply for a brand marketer job that requires an MBA and years of experience and think you’re going to get it. You’ve got to make sure you understand what are the entry level positions, I started out as a sales intern before my senior year in college and I came out and I did the district sales representative which in our organization now is a territory manager role or retail sales rep, depending which company you’re going to be in. Learn, come in at the ground level and you and I talked about this the last time, build your foundation properly, be patient.

You cannot go from kindergarten to senior year of high school, you have to make your steps along the way and those steps are different than they traditionally use t be. I’m not saying you need to follow a corporate ladder step, what I am saying is you need to build your base of knowledge. There’s a lot of things that go into selling today and I would say selling is a little bit of everything rolled into one. You need to know finance, you need to know product supply, you need to know a little bit of marketing, you need to be part psychologist because you’re dealing with people, you’re dealing with situations and you’re going to be in situations nonstop that require you to think quickly and come up with solutions quickly.

If you don’t give yourself the time to learn and develop and understand the fundamentals of what the consumer is looking for and how a store operates or an online platform operates, whatever the selling media is, you’re going to fail. That’s a challenge and I’ve got my sons in the organization, I’ve got two nephews in the organization. You have to start out at a jog, it’s like anybody who plays sports. What do you do when you start? Practice, usually jogging first lap, loosen up the muscles, then you stretch and then you go into whatever you’re doing. That’s the same mentality you need to bring when you’re coming out of college and starting the career, you need to learn what the heck your business is, you need to learn the company you’re working for, its strengths, weaknesses and opportunities and the same thing with the competition and of your consumer and customer. Give yourself time.

Fred Diamond: There are a couple questions that come in related to that. “Dominic mentioned habits.” Let’s be real specific, Dominic, what are some of your sales habits that you’ve inculcated over the years that you would strongly recommend that the sale professionals – I notice we have some people here who are not necessarily sales professionals but want to get better at sales. What’s a habit or two that you’ve deployed over the years that has helped you? Give us two or three habits that you’ve put into play to help lead to your success.

Dominic Strada: I think one of them I just gave you, don’t think sales is just about executing or one stream of knowledge. The more you know about the total operation, and I think this goes for any role whether you’re in sales, marketing, finance, it doesn’t matter, you have to be more of a general manager. In today’s environment to succeed you have to be more of a general manager than a one stream expert because your career is going to shift and the demands of your position are going to change based on things that are happening in the marketplace. Learn enough to be dangerous, I like to say, in all the areas. Know who to bring in when you need to have a more technical conversation in a specific area but you have to know those things so you can change your plan. This is something we talked about also earlier, do not come to work and think you’re going to just keep executing the same plan day in and day out. Very good book, and I’m not a big book reader, Who Moved My Cheese? is the easiest 90 page read that really just outlines what you need to do. Don’t be comfortable.

You have to go to work thinking, “Somebody is going to take 100% of my business away from me” every single day. What are you going to do to defend it and what am I going to do to grow it? Those are habits I bring to work every single day, you have to be thinking about your products, your customer and how you can service them better and how you can win. Unfortunately we live in a world where everybody wants to get a trophy for participation. For the new people coming out of college, you don’t get a trophy for participation in the business world, you either win or you lose, it’s very clear. So, you have to come to work every day with a winner’s mentality and a mentality that, “I need to do something today that reinforces my position” or take something from somebody else because if not, they’re trying to do it to me.

Fred Diamond: Someone asked here about marketing. Nestle is obviously a huge marketer, the Gerber product line, how are you now going to be marketing? I presume you do TV advertising and other places online, maybe you an talk for a second or two. I’m going to ask you for two final things that people can do today but how are you moving forward with the marketing? Again, you’re marketing to ‘mom’, typically, a new mom who buys a baby food. We’ve seen the commercials shift over the last 6-10 weeks and it was the same piano playing through almost every commercial for a couple of weeks there or the violin, potentially. So, talk a minute or two about the marketing of Gerber products for the next 3-4 months potentially and then give us your final thing of what people should do.

Dominic Strada: As I said, know a little bit to be dangerous. You’re asking me to be a marketer, that’s where it’s a little bit to be dangerous. I think marketing has changed dramatically in the last 5 years, the digital changed the marketing, started years ago. You see a move from TV to one-on-one personalization being able to communicate, for us, with ‘mom’ in a one-on-one situation so we’ve moved away from a lot of mass media into more digital targeted campaigns for years and that’s just as accelerated. It’s about being able to instead of shooting with a shotgun you can shoot with a rifle and then just accelerate it. I don’t see us moving away from that, I think you’re seeing a little bit of the mass media sprinkled in because you still need name recognition and you also have people buying your products.

It depends who you’re targeting too, so my Boost product line, that consumer still watches a lot of TV and reads the newspaper and things of that nature, we’re going to communicate to that consumer through traditional media. Today’s mom, millennials, early 30s, digital savvy. I don’t think they’ve ever looked at a newspaper, for one thing so they do things differently. Depending who your target audience is and if I’m a marketer know who you’re targeting and why and how you reach them, then make sure you have a message that’s compelling once you figure that out. It does no good to figure out how to reach them if when you do, your message doesn’t encourage them to look twice at your item, give it a try or understand why they should buy it, that’s the most I can give you on marketing.

Fred Diamond: Curiously, what is the message right now? What is the Gerber message to the young mother marketplace?

Dominic Strada: Our message hasn’t changed, it’s always doing everything for baby. In the short-term that was making sure our product was available for mom when she went to the store. You need that formula, we need to make sure it’s on the shelf. You need your baby food, we need to make sure that’s on the shelf so that doesn’t change. Now it goes back to, “Okay, what does mom want when she gets to the store? If she wants to be in and out quickly then we need to make sure we have the pack sizes that allow her to do that. Help her make her decisions with multi-packs and family-packs that have a wider assortment in there. She can go in and grab one and get out of the aisle as quickly as possible. Meet her needs online whether that’s through a retailer’s site or our site, she’s probably got a lot of questions and so on now that her home environment has changed, w have an online system where she can talk directly to one of our coaches and nutritionists and things of that interest. It’s all about being able to adapt and answer mom’s questions whether she’s in the store, dealing with a colicky baby at midnight, there’s a way for her to communicate with our company.

Fred Diamond: Dominic, you always give us such great information, you’re such a wealth of knowledge. Give us one thing that the salespeople watching today’s webcast or listening to the podcast in the future, give us one thing they should do today, specific, to be more successful as a sales professional.

Dominic Strada: The easiest thing you can do is a simple exercise, the old start, stop and continue. If you’re not taking that type of inventory of what I should be doing, what I should keep, what I should change, what I should modify, based on the new market environment you’re missing big time because it goes to what we talked about. If you’re not willing to change based on market conditions or whatever changes that day, you’re going to fail so you really need to take a look at it’s a new environment, consumers are shopping different, they’re looking for different things. You’re dealing with different things internally whether it’s on the supply side or the people side so what do I need to start, stop and continue with my products, my route to market, my customer communications, my customer interaction and my people interaction?

Fred Diamond: Dominic, thank you so much. To all the people who watched today’s webcast, thank you.

Dominic Strada: Thank you, Fred.

Transcribed by Mariana Badillo

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