Key Takeaways from the Why Foodservice-First CRM is a Better Bet Webinar:

  • A foodservice-first CRM is critical to the go-to-market process
  • How to implement a CRM solution
  • Wins that Idahoan Foods gained through Blacksmith CRM


Webinar Hosts 🎙️

Teddie Granville, Director of CRM Product Development, Blacksmith Applications

Christine Walker, Sr. Account Manager, Blacksmith Applications

Craig Gentry, VP & General Manager – Foodservice Business, Idahoan Foods


There are plenty of CRM tools out there. Most serve as a storage repository for customer and prospect data. The trick is finding the CRM that optimizes sales. This is especially important in the world of foodservice. With so many processes and players, the way of doing business is anything but straightforward.

Benefits of CRM

Customer relationship management (CRM) technology manages all your company’s contacts. This system improves relationships and grows business because you have a whole picture of the sales landscape. The biggest advantage of CRM is that it houses all your company’s important data in one place.

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  • creates a location for internal and broker sales teams to access marketing assets
  • provides your sales team with tools to plan and execute sales calls
  • builds an opportunity pipeline based on sales call outcomes
  • centralizes and increases accuracy for corporate reporting
  • has analyzers that help leadership parse performance results for better planning
  • helps and mentors sales team members on goals and execution


Foodservice Sales Process and Roles

While storing your contacts information is important, there are many other equally critical data points to capture. A single operator has numerous delivery locations, with products approved by the contract management company, others via a GPO, and some straight from a distributor. These are things you need to know.

A lot of software systems provide customer-centric functionality, but a foodservice-first CRM really understands all the players in the mix. All of the parts should collaborate. It shouldn’t be a challenge to keep an eye on how they’re making sales in the market.

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Foodservice Sales Process - Players

There are a lot of different roles and sales processes in foodservice. You have different types of customers – and when they’re already set up in your system, you can show the relevant products to the relevant customers at the right time. If your CRM system doesn’t know the details, how will it work?

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Foodservice connections come to life


Foodservice-First CRM

Integrated foodservice CRM brings your go-to-market together. It’s built to understand the complex and often overlapping industry relationships. It can integrate with your other go-to-market tools to simplify the sales process for your internal and broker sales team.

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Sales Call Management

  • Enter sales calls with preloaded foodservice data and information
  • Associate relevant products with sales and marketing assets
  • View customer sales activity and purchasing history
  • Empower your brokers and sales teams through clear communication on targets and initiatives
  • Build your pipeline by doing what you already do, making sales calls

Opportunity Pipeline

  • Filter opportunities by product, budget or marketing category, rep, broker, and territory
  • Help teams focus on their top opportunities
  • Understand the reasons behind product no sales and quickly react to market conditions
  • Recycle “lost opportunities” into prospects
  • Expedite your sales cycle by automating sales initiatives and opportunity pipeline


Successful CRM Implementation

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For Idahoan, implementing a CRM system meant implementing a true business system. “We knew we needed our CRM to be based in managerial accounting – that’s what made this implementation successful from the get-go,” explains Craig. He continues, “Financial accounting doesn’t work for running sales and go-to-market. I experienced that in my past. When we looked to implement a business system, we knew we needed a management accounting based software. That’s what’s helped make this so successful.”

The biggest takeaways Craig has from CRM implementation is the importance of out-of-box functionality and the ability to run business in totality. “Typically in the software world, there’s more functionality than you could ever need. Translating strategy to development of software almost never works,” notes Craig. He explains that while you end up with an amazing model –  you only know how to use part of the system. And that’s a problem. He adds, by the way, that he had worked with a non-foodservice CRM… a pretty well-known name across many industries; a system that can do anything. “What I found, it was a well-financed effort, it really was designed for a short-sales cycle. It wasn’t designed for activity, sale, and tracking. In our world, we’re looking at a longer sales funnel with a lot of backup data.”

Another huge benefit to the foodservice CRM? Dashboards. “These dashboards are readily available and help focus the team’s time,” Craig says. The data lets the team know how to act; this dashboard reminded me to address this or act on that. The importance of dashboards can’t be underestimated.



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The most important measurement for the Idahoan team is efficiency. “There’s a lot of people who simply measure sales activity but, we evolved from that mindset to thinking critically about efficiency,” Craig adds. Idahoan adopted an operator-centric strategy; where the opportunity funnel is top priority. “We’ve gone from sold/movement in funnel – to being all about conversion – not what I sold, but what I shipped,” Craig continues. When it comes to foodservice, you can’t rely on sold. You have to look at shipped. Which is why the integration to trade is critical.

Remember, “simple activity KPIs will get hit, but you probably won’t get to the ultimate business result,” Craig says. “It should be about funnel efficiency. With the CRM tool, we can measure by market… how much we’ve shipped into the market vs. what our distributor and/or broker partners sold into that market.”

Christine mentions that Idahoan leadership has always been involved in the CRM success. She adds, “The team is heavily involved in how the tool is used. That’s very important. At the beginning of your journey, we can tell you everything you need to know, but you can’t back into your KPIs. You have to know what those metrics look like. You have to want to use the tool, and see the value in using the tools.”

Having sales data built into the platform has “been one of the keys to success,” Craig says. “The integration of sales data really provides value as a business.”

Start small.

If you try to do everything at once, then from an engagement perspective – any process that you implement breaks the previous process. With a new process or tool, the things the sales team is comfortable with are gone. The slower you go at the beginning, the faster you’ll get where you want to go.



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Integrations are important. “You can integrate your TPM, your operator claims data, you can pull in distributor sales information,” Teddie explains. “Bringing all of your information together gives you the why behind the by.” Our current system doesn’t have social-based features so you may not get ‘chatter’ like Salesforce, but you get a lot of sales-specific data.

As for system evaluation, Craig says to set your strategy – figure out your top three deliverables. Use those points as must-haves when you evaluate CRMs. You might not need everything, but you need to look for those three things. When a system delivers on that, then you’ll hit your strategy.

Because our focus is foodservice, we know what the industry needs.

We know your pain points and think of solutions to alleviate any challenge.

We’re in the business of collaboration to make it a win/win.