Making food, making money and Rock 'n' Roll - Part 2

A 6-part series depicting the events of a salesperson selling to a global food manufacturer without a business case or value-selling approach.

Stephen Jackett
November 24, 2022

DISCLAIMER: this is a true story. The events depicted in this story took place in the United Kingdom in 2018. At the request of the subjects, the names have been changed and some events dramatised. Out of respect for the customers, the rest has been told exactly as it occurred.

Jim has been in the food industry all his life; he is a well-respected, family man and widely regarded as a financial genius. He has averted many company disasters and navigated some very tough times in a business that was originally family-owned but has now become a global power in the food industry.

Jim is a firm but very fair man and was looking forward to retirement, having recruited an extremely gifted replacement for his position. After 5 years of intense training, Sally was now ready for the role. In fact, it had been Sally who had questioned the investment in the new system for the processing plant and accounts teams. Her point had been that the investment case study put forward was great, well-structured but it was just a case study and had nothing to do with justifying their investment in a new system. So, whilst it was an 'interesting read’ from a respected consultancy, it had no relevance to helping them make an investment decision for their business. Jim was delighted!

Billy the operations director, had requested a meeting with Sally and Jim to discuss the new proposal for the accounts team and processing plants, Sally knew exactly why he wanted it. Monday afternoon, on the final week of the month was never a good time for a meeting with Finance, but Billy had a requirement because the processing operations were on their knees and needed to be fixed. Sat around the boardroom table, Billy asked if there were any hold ups to approving the spend on the new system, Sally said “yes”!  

“Billy, we must present a case to the shareholders of this business that shows the system meets our technical and operational requirements and will solve the problems we are experiencing in production. We also need to present the current financial pain the business is suffering because of these failures, what the investment is needed to fix them and if the benefits outweigh the costs of doing it. In other words, we need a business case.”

Frustrated, Billy replies, “But Sally you have all this information in the pack I provided.”

“Billy, your case tells us we will save 25% of our stock waste, we deal mainly in dried ingredients – we do not have a problem with stock waste.”

Jim has not said a word and is sitting back reviewing the papers for the impending board meeting.

Billy asks, “Jim surely we can all see the problems we have; we need this urgently.”

A cool Jim replies, “Billy, please ask your vendor to have a think about how they are presenting this case from a financial perspective. Ask them to quantify solving the problems we currently have and not present some generic case study and throw it over the wall. If you can work with the vendor on this, I will make sure it gets into the board pack for the next quarterly board meeting."

Billy is not happy and leaves the office, not the result he wanted. Feeling a little uncomfortable about what action to take next, Billy does nothing, hoping the problem will go away. But the plant does not stop and the constant firefight to keep orders fulfilled continues. Friday comes and Billy is looking forward to a game of golf with Jon but at the same time is not looking forward to it. Then his phone rings…its Jon.

Tune in to part 3 to find out how what happens next!

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At Shark Finesse we have developed an enterprise-grade cloud application to help businesses standardise and simplify their value engagements across the entire customer journey.

Shark, a business value engagement platform used by 1000’s of customer-facing teams globally (e.g. pre-sales, sales, value teams, and customer success) is easy to use, intuitive and usable directly with the customer to negotiate the likely business returns from investing in a solution.

By adopting the Shark approach you will fundamentally transform conversations with new and existing customers, close more business, and differentiate from the competition.