Saturday, September 24, 2011

New York City In A Bottle!

OK, I love NYC. Bernice and I have had amazing vacations in the "Big Apple" over the last thirty years. Again, we love it. But, $8.00 for a $1.50 bottle of water? Each time I come to NYC it just amazes me how they price things - and they (and I) pay it at will because it is NYC!

If you ever need a boost to get your confidence up to raise your prices in your catering, just make a visit here the day before you are going to make your decision on how much to raise your prices.We're having fun but I just wanted you to see the $8.00 bottle of water in our $400.00 per night hotel room. I wish you could have seen my $26 hamburger at lunch today. Bernice enjoyed her $7.50 cup of tea. We do love NYC and will be back soon!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Ways To Get The Shopper To Buy Today!

Here are some concepts that salespeople can use during a sales presentation to create excitement about the advantages that the shopper might lose if they don’t act quickly (today!) to book their event.

1. Price. Price is the most powerful and critical tool to create concern for lost value by a shopper, when thinking about postponing their decision to buy. It is easy to do if you start creating seasonal pricing i.e spring prices, summer prices, fall prices and winter prices. When a buyer is speaking about an event that will happen in the “summer” of the next year, the salesperson can offer, as an incentive, the current “fall” prices, which are lower if they make a quick decision. Purchase now.

2. Date. This is especially strong with celebrations like weddings, showers, birthdays, etc. An advantage is gained by the salesperson when they point out that the day the client has selected is a popular one ... and that most caterers will be getting booked very quickly. Purchase now.

3. Prime space. Banquet facilities use this to create urgency and excitement by offering a special room, on a “first reserved basis”. If they wait, they might lose this great room! Purchase now.

4. Discount. One needs to be very careful with this one. Some caterers call it an “early bird” discount. It is offered for those who make a quick decision so they can close off a date. It is explained that all caterers like to get their dates filled as early as possible, so they give better prices for those who buy early. If you wait, you usually pay a premium price for the catering. Decide now and purchase now.

5. Special staff. In this scenario the caterer explains that by booking quickly, the party can be staffed with their greatest staff. If they wait, they will get just great staff! Purchase now.

6. Menu. Often caterers offer additional menu items for early booking. The shopper is told that if they come on board now, they can get two more appetizers and a special presentation of their dessert.

7. Equipment. Caterers explain to the shoppers that during peak seasons the best tents, chairs, glassware, etc. are rented early, so waiting too long can have an effect on the appearance of the event.

If these seem negative to you, remember that they are all out of context. Also, one would probably not use them all with any one client. The point is that the salesperson needs to emphasize reasons for the shoppers to make a positive decision quickly. The only way to break the promise of “not buying today” is to explain that there are wonderful reasons for buying now to gain super advantages.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Handout From My Speech At NACE Baltimore

On Monday I flew to Baltimore to give a speech to the NACE Chapter in Baltimore. It was great to meet some of my longtime friends. Here is the handout that each person received:
A $ymphony Of Sales Secrets Revealed

A. Some First Thoughts On Making Sales
Sales success and growth results from your inbound marketing tactics, the user-friendliness of your people and systems plus the shopper’s overall “first impression”. Shoppers can get your products and services from lots of different (and less expensive) vendors. The goal is to impress the shopper so they quickly realize that while they can get what they are looking for from many other vendors, you seem to demonstrate a unique professionalism and concern that will increase their success.

B. Inbound Marketing
Inbound marketing deals with your procedures for receiving and handling a shopper’s info requests from phone calls, emails, internet requests, or from walk-ins. My view is that the shopper’s first contact with your company is simply what makes or breaks the sale. Let’s think about what goes through the shopper’s mind before, during and after the first contact.
1. Shoppers call many vendors to shop… that’s what shopping means!
2. They learn and adapt as they contact different vendors.
3. They soon discover the “sameness” of each vendor and learn their weaknesses.
4. They feel “interrogated” by vendors from endless and “sameness” questions.
5. They’re told to wait to get their questions answered.
6. A bell goes off in shopper’s minds when they finally make contact with a “different-unsame” type of vendor.

C. Incoming Phone Calls
1. No “technology handling” during business hours.
2. The selling begins with the first voice they hear.
3. Who answers the call sets the stage.
4. Give your name… don’t ask names and other personal info too quickly.
5. “Sellucate” as you give and get info from the shopper… don’t interrogate.
6. Qualification is important. Are they buyers and can you sell them something?
    a. This is where you ask info and attitude questions.
    b. This is where you decide your next steps assuming you keep going - “go” or “no-go”.
    c. The first 180 seconds can make or break a sale.
    d. Remember: It’s more about how they answer the questions rather than what they answer.
    e. “From what you’ve shared with me so far, I can confidently say that we...”
    f. “I need to locate Bob Smith for you to speak with because he specializes in...”
    g. “Before I transfer you to him I just want to tell you a little about Bob.”

D. Incoming Email & Internet Requests
1. Learn to filter emails to targeted mail boxes.
2. Someone needs to determine their each email’s “importance” - everyone can’t be treated the same.
3. Use an automatic message received response - “Thanks - we’ve received your request”.
4. Send personalized “first-step” response a.s.a.p. to separate your company from the rest.
    a. Attach PDF, Youtube links, Audio Clip, Facebook, etc.
    b. Provide them with advanced fundamental info about your company and team.
    c. Assign a control number to their request.
    d. Give them someone at your company to call sooner if they wish.
    e. Infer the timeline they can look forward to for your response.

E. Uninvited Walk-Ins
1. This does happen with many businesses. It really should be encouraged.
2. Have signage showing the hours and/or directions of where to go.
3. The entire staff needs to understand what to do.
4. Have a walkthrough procedure that staff can execute to fulfill their reason for coming.
5. Qualify, reschedule, or walkthrough!
6. Sometimes it is just incorrect or impossible to take time to tour.

F. Let’s Talk Sales
1. Salespeople are the creators of profit and growth - they create everyone’s salaries.
2. There are no tricks in selling - just words, strategies, tactics and lots of rehearsing!
3. Selling is just making friends in a very short time.
4. Salespeople are developed... not born into it.

G. Don’t Sell Your Products First
1. Make a friend first.
2. Sell “non-embarrassment” not just your products. Boast about your team and what past buyers like about your
product/services. “Mrs. Smith, please let me take a moment and share with you why I chose to work with (your company)...”
3. Learn the difference between “order-taking” and “selling”. There is a need and time for both.
4. Always stay positive, but “correct” the shopper if necessary.
5. To the shopper... sell yourself, the company, the team, and then the product... in that order.
6. Tell the shopper the questions they should be asking and then answer them!
7. Establish the foundations of upselling right from the beginning.
8. Market and sell what your products/services do for clients... not just what they are.
9. Remember: Verbs and adjectives make sales happen. Nouns are shallow.

H. Some Last Thoughts
1. You need to continually present the shopper with “”real-world” scenarios and stories.
2. Selling is not lecturing. Selling is teaching through selling.
3. Sell the result they envision, but protect them from making mistakes or missteps.
4. Continually ask yourself why you do what you do!
5. To most shoppers chicken is just chicken, a white linen is just a white linen, a sound system is just a sound system no matter where they buy/rent it. So, paying less for the same thing is good.

Remember The “...ATE” Concept:
Motivate, Innovate, Aggravate, Communicate, Debate, Educate, Celebrate, Negotiate & Sellucate!


Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Another View On Unwise Sales

Some sales cost the caterer more than others. Say, for example, that you have an absolutely packed day and you take “one more order” even though you are already too busy for that day. Chances are that this last order you took will create some additional costs for your company that you hadn’t thought about.

These costs would include overtime, extra personnel, the rental of an extra delivery truck, and so on. Each of these costs seems innocent. Unless you ask the person who placed the last order to help pay for these extra costs created by taking their order, the only way you can cover these costs is by taking some of the profit away from the other sales for that day!

“I’m sorry, but we’ve closed off that date because we’ve got a full-day. If you would like to place an order for that day, we would need to add an additional charge to cover the additional costs that your order would create for our kitchen. Or, perhaps you can arrange for your catering on a different day?”

While this may seem like a “fantasy” script to many reading this, I can assure you that many caterers have realized that it’s crazy to take certain orders under certain circumstances. The problem is that they often don’t realize it till after the day is done and the numbers come back for review.

So, I can now ask another question. With respect to your business, are you a “dog wagging its own tail” or a “dog that’s being wagged by its tail?” The answer is a crucial one for all caterers. As one caterer told me recently “If I’m making a clear profit... I book it. If I’m not going to make money with it... I tell them unfortunately I’m totally booked on that day.”

Have I confused you? Great! That’s what education is supposed to do... make you think and re-think your current ideas. Remember, complacency is a danger for any business and doing things “just because that’s the way we’ve been doing it” is also foolish, especially if you don’t stop once in a while to rethink the validity of your actions. Many caterers have more unwise sales than they think.

While it’s very hard not to take a “every” order, often it’s the best, and wisest, course of action if quality profit and less hassle are your goals.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Examples Of Closing Questions #1

A salesperson uses a closing question to start the close and/or to check to see if the shopper is ready to go into the closing part of the sale. Here are some examples:

1. “Mrs. Smith, I noticed that beautiful wood table in the family room. On the night of the party, may I move this table to the foyer and use it for place cards?”

2. “Mr. Jones, from what you’ve heard so far, is my company going to be one that you consider using for your event?”

3. “Mary, would you like me to put our ideas in writing?”

4. “Jim and Alice, our presentation is about two-thirds completed. Usually, at this time, I make my clients aware of the different pricing packages we have. This will also give you the information that explains how our deposit policies work. May I present this important information to you now?”

5. “Ms. Franklin, I’m concerned about the date that you’ve selected for the Christmas party because it’s such a busy one for us. Would you like me to take some shortcuts in giving you my sales information so you are able to decide quickly if you like our policies and menus?”

Just give me your email in the field directly under my photo on the right. Then, just confirm/reply your request once you get your confirmation email and you are ready to go! Thanks.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Age Old Question: Prices Over The Phone or Not?

Each and every salesperson is faced with this decision each and every day of their selling career. If we polled caterers, we would find that many of the salespeople believe that giving prices over the phone is perfectly o.k, while others would tell us that it’s crazy to give your prices to somebody who’s not sitting in front of you. So, should we give pricing information over the phone? What do you do when you have a caller ask you the questions below:

“Yes, I’m calling to find out how much you charge for a wedding of 200 people?”
“”What are your prices?”

From the “never give prices over the phone” point of view, the decision would be made to try to set an appointment or to tease the individual calling.

“It’s really difficult for me to give you prices without knowing exactly what you’re looking for. All of our menus are customized to fit most budgets. As a caterer we do a wide variety of menus and themes, so it is best not of project price till we hear exactly what you wish.”

From the “sell over the phone” point of view, the decision would be made to give the caller an understanding of what price range they might fall into.

“With respect to price, I can only give you an example because I don’t know the particulars of your event. We have wonderful wedding packages that sell for $78 per guest and some that sell for $129 per guest. The main difference between the two is the type of entrée our customers select and the day of the week they wish to have their catering.”

Are you starting to see the dilemma? It’s really a personal decision by each and every salesperson as to whether they give price information over the phone. Of course, it could also be a management decision. I wish to suggest that in either case, it’s probably better not to treat each and every caller in the same manner. In other words, it’s best not to have a hard and fast rule about giving , or not giving, prices over the phone.

Let’s take a moment and think about this from the caller’s point of view. How will they respond to either of your approaches? Can we raise their curiosity, or will it just make them angry? Think about this... you walk into a jewelry store and begin to look at some watches in the showcases. Do you look for the price tags? When you look at a restaurant menu in a new restaurant do you look at the prices?

Most of us would certainly look. We want to know about prices. We wish to know the type of store, or restaurant, we’re in. We don’t want to be embarrassed by being in the wrong buying situation. We’re not suggesting that having a policy of giving prices out over the phone will get you more sales. I’m suggesting that in certain cases, with certain buyers, it is best to give them an idea of what type of “store” they’re in.

On the other hand, I can also share with you, what most caterers have found that when they give pricing information over the phone, they tend to give ranges of price or price examples. In this way, they get the best of both worlds!

NOTE: This is a great topic to discuss with your team!