Selling (Sustainable) Packaging: Sales Manager Tips to Source New Customers

We interviewed three sales managers on how they source and acquire new customers with sustainable packaging. Here are their biggest tips. (+ free sales acquisition checklist!)


Zazala Quist


October 30, 2023

Key insights

Sustainable packaging means business. Very good business.

The demand for 'eco-friendly' packaging options continues as consumer demand increases and sustainability reporting legislation (like the EU’s CSRD) goes into force. 

The result: an increasingly growing pool of companies search for support on reducing the carbon impact of their purchases. "Is biodegradeble packaging really what we need?"

We interviewed three sales managers on how they source and acquire new customers with sustainable packaging. Here are their biggest tips.

Download our free Checklist for Sustainable Sales Acquisition here.

Sales Acquisition Checklist for sustainable packaging sellers_Pickler.

1. Understand Your Prospects' Sustainability Goals

Understand your potential customers' sustainability goals and priorities. Why do they commit to sustainability? This helps you tailor your pitch and offering.

Often the reasons are:

  • Compliance with Legislation
  • Enhancing brand reputation
  • Meeting their customers’ demands (e.g. requirements in tenders)
  • Reducing their own carbon footprint (scope 3 emissions)

Read their sustainability page, report - or ask questions to dive deeper into their needs and ambitions.

- What sustainability aspects matter most to them?

- What packaging qualities do they look for?

- Do these qualities actually help them reach their sustainability goal? (E.g. would biodegradable materials actually help them reduce carbon impact?)

- How far do they want to go in terms of impact reduction?

This enables you to tailor your pitch and provide packaging solutions that align with their specific needs, making your offering more compelling. 

Make sure you know the background information necessary to understand and help with these reasons (tip #2). Do your research, and always bring credible proof and insights (like carbon footprint data) to the table, your prospect or customer could, in turn, use themselves. Win-win!


2. Added service value: Offer Sustainability Insights and Advice

Sustainability is education. To stand out as an expert in the field, equip yourself with a solid understanding of the various aspects of sustainable packaging, including materials, (realistic) end-of-life scenarios, recycling processes, carbon footprints, and industry regulations.

Create a solid foundation by educating yourself on:

For example, based on your client’s wishes, you can tailor materials, processes, or even product options- and reflect the effect of these changes using footprint calculations. Add potential long-term impact savings and improved brand reputation in the mix - and you have a solid science-based impact reduction strategy for your potential client. 

Having scienctific evidence to back up your sales, ensures your advice is correct and that you actually help your customers reduce or meet compliance with legislation like the CSRD. Even if this sometimes wasn’t their main goal. It makes your service unique to that of competitors.

Read how Pack Company helped a customer reduce packaging impact by 40% here.

“Sometimes just switching to packaging with less print can reduce its total carbon footprint by 40%, plus you reduce printing costs. I also often compare products, or even product groups in Pickler to enable my clients to choose the product that best serves their purpose. Data is rock-solid in sales.”

Pack Company

3. Take small steps that make a big difference

Potential customers might not be ready to make the biggest steps yet. Find out what’s most important to them, what their preferred expenses are, and find a balance. Focus on how they can reduce the most impact, with the least work/costs.

Product Footprint calculations can help you find this focus, by presenting the biggest impact reduction potential for your customers. It might be that something as simple as a production location or a material used - can cause a packaging's biggest impact.

Small differences can already make a difference here in terms of impact reduction. It makes sustainability an added value next to costs.

“If a customer wants to make steps, but isn’t ready to switch their whole business around, I use Pickler to calculate the carbon footprint of the products they currently use, and analyze where the biggest impact comes from. 80% of a product's total impact often comes from 20% of its materials for example. It’s where you make the biggest difference in terms of impact reduction. That’s your focus and sweet spot to offer small, cost-effective alternatives.” 

Moonen Packaging

4. Start Early, Make Sustainability Strategic

As regulations such as the PPWR, CSRD, and EPR evolve, it's essential to stay ahead of the curve and introduce your customers to long-term helpful sustainable packaging solutions.

Be a proactive partner that guides your customers through the changing landscape of sustainable packaging. This helps you build long-lasting relationships and secure repeated business.

90% of a sales manager's job in packaging is often maintaining, and retaining existing clients. 10% is active outreach. This means two things:

  1. Existing clients: Start with small sustainability steps to guide your existing customers. Make sure you have footprint information ready to answer sustainability demands from frontrunners/large customers with tenders.
  2. Active outreach: You stand out from the crowd, use it. Strategically reach out to sustainability oriented companies (like B-corp certified or SBTi committed companies) with science-based footprint result for your packaging. Make yourself their go-to long-term impact savings partner.

“Especially with the CSRD, I expect 2024 to become the year when a lot of companies realize footprint data is crucial. I recommend you encourage your customers to embrace sustainability sooner rather than later. Emphasize that taking steps- even if they’re small- towards packaging with lower carbon footprints can position them as market leaders and set them apart from their competitors.”

You need credible data, for credible sales.

Selling sustainable packaging isn’t about pushing a product. It's about understanding your customers' unique needs and offering them valuable insights and guidance. 

The bottom line? Environmental data ensures you can answer- and/or build a case for any sustainability demand from clients. Pickler is easy footprint software that helps sales professionals do exactly that. Want to learn how? Book a demo with one of our specialists here.

Zazala Quist

Head of growth

Hi, I'm Zazala - Head of Growth at Pickler. I've worked in impact measurements for many years and experienced first hand how difficult it can be for businesses to start. My goal: share my practical knowledge to make environmental sustainability accessible and understandable to business. Have questions about this topic or just want to chat? Reach out to me via email or LinkedIn!