If the Thermomix sales process were a recipe, it’d feature lots of product demos, in-home mixers and healthy smidges of handshaking and pep talks sprinkled in.
Throw in a pandemic, though, and suddenly you’re left with a recipe bereft of its primary ingredient: in-person sales.
I caught up with the CEO of Thermomix North America Kai Schäffner and the VP of consumer experience Ramona Wehlig to talk about how a company famous for direct sales model has been faring at a time when people can’t get together.
According to Schäffner, the company has had to move entirely to virtual sales during the pandemic, a move that wasn’t all that difficult since it was something they’d been thinking about doing for some time.
“We were planning to make a major move next year towards virtual sales,” said Schäffner. “Coronavirus decided for us. So we took two to three weeks to move all North America to virtual. We started in Canada and the US, and are now fully virtual in Mexico.”
The virtual consultations are available by appointment via the website and, like so many meetings nowadays, are conducted using platforms like Zoom.
The company is also using cooking classes, with some led by regional managers on Zoom and also Facebook Live to reach a national audience. Below is a Thermomix demo on how to make keto friendly biscuits.
This transition to a virtual sales process comes amid a worldwide surge in usage for those Thermomixes already in homes.
“Usage has been rising from 30% to 100% depending on the country,” said Wehlig, “We have seen the highest increase in Spain, Portugal, Italy and Poland where usage has been doubling.”
Usage of the multicooker’s digital recipe platform, Cookido, has also surged, with 2.3 million daily cooking sessions during the quarantine period.
With quarantines starting to come to an end and many places around the globe slowly trying to resume some level of normalcy, I asked Schäffner if the company would get back to doing in-home sales consultations and he said yes, slowly, but it would be ultimately up to the comfort level of the sales consultants and prospects.
“It’s a choice,” he said, but admitted the in-home experience will always be better.
“The experience is totally different. The testing, the feeling, the touching. All of those points you can do better in your home.”
“Cooking,” said Schäffner, “is about tasting.”