Friday, January 11, 2013

Use A Coding System For Prospects

When prospects contact you to request information, label them with a code that quickly tells others on your staff how important this particular prospect might be to the business. The first part of the code deals with the projected revenue for the information request, such as a letter from A to D, with A being a prospect with a $10,000-plus potential event and D being one with under $2,000 volume potential. B might be $7,000 to $10,000 and C would be $2,000 to $7,000.
Then create a numbering system that reflects the prospect’s level of urgency from 1 to 4, with 1 being an alarm to your staff that a clients needs to be responded to very quickly while 4 says the prospect doesn’t have a wedding date yet and is just gathering information. With this system, all staff members know that a lead with a A-1 code is much more time critical than one with a D-4, so they need to contact the A-1 prospect before the D-4, even if the D-4 lead came in first. If this makes you feel uncomfortable, please challenge your thinking; most businesses use some kind of method to classify their leads and customers.

REQUEST: I'm looking for guest articles offering opinions, education, or whatever from our blog readers. So, if you want a bunch of people to know what you are thinking just forward your article to Articles should be between 300 to 900 words in length.

NOTE: If you didn’t receive this blog post directly to your computer via your email without needing to login to my blog site, then you should take a moment and register to get my posts automatically without going directly to the website. Simply input your email address in the field directly under my photo in the top right margin of my blog site.  You will receive an email to reconfirm and you are done

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Discussion Points

Here are some concepts to discuss and challenge:

1. After making a first-time appointment with a client, send a handwritten thank you note to reach them before your meeting.

2. Think of clients from their point of view... what do they wish?

3. Always sell what your catering will do for the buyer ... not what the catering is.             

4. A great salesperson understands WHY the shopper didn't or couldn't buy from them. They are on a constant search for the answer to "why".               

5. A sales manager needs to track the leads given to each salesperson and maintain a record of each proposal that is sent to clients with respect to what stage the sale is in.

6. Shoppers of catering buy from the salesperson that makes it easiest for them to say “yes”.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Think “Maybe” Before Making A Decision

When a prospect asks, “Can I pay my deposit in three payments?” never say “yes” without thinking about it. When a staff member asks,“May I have a raise?” never say “yes” without thinking about it. When you yourself are wondering about buying a new delivery vehicle, always ask yourself if you really need it or if there is another way to solve the problem. Try thinking, “Maybe.”
Requests for donations of food or money also need additional thought. Saying “yes” too quickly often leads to problems. Owners and managers need to take time to analyze the full impact of any decisions they are about to make.
Perhaps the best use of the word “maybe” is in response to a prospect’s question, “Are you available May 15?” If you answer “yes” too quickly, it may appear that you are not busy and are in need of as much business that you are able to book. It’s better to tell the prospect that business is doing so well that you will need to check your calendar to make sure that you are available, or “maybe.”

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Guest Article: When Does Age Become a Problem? by Melanie Spratford

Finesse Cuisine Marketing Director, Melanie Spratford, shares her thoughts on when it’s OK to talk about your (company’s) age.

Melanie Spratford
I’d like to suggest an experiment for all caterers: pull up the front page of your company website.  Now open the site of the local company you consider your fiercest competitor.  Let’s also look at the homepage of a local company you think is inferior to yours.  Just for fun, pull up the sites of a few caterers in other parts of the country, too.

If my observations are correct, the majority of those sites mention a variation of the following statement (usually within the first couple sentences on the site):
·       For 30 years, XYZ Caterers has been serving Anytown, USA….
·       Founded 20 years ago, ABC Catering Company is proud to be a part of….
·       In 1987, Chef John Smith started Smith Catering….
Almost every caterer uses the first lines of their website to state the age of their company.  It’s a terrible trend.  It does nothing to educate customers about your services and, unless you are the oldest or youngest company in your market, it does nothing to distinguish you from your competitors.

I understand the instinct to “tell the story” of our companies.  Catering companies are families, each with its own interesting history.  As caterers, we pour so much effort into this all-consuming profession, and it’s natural to want to explain how dedicated we are.  Plus, you have every right to be proud of your longevity.  This is a grueling business and, let’s be honest, the past 10 years haven’t exactly been the easiest.

Trumpeting your company’s age, however, doesn’t address the primary interests of people visiting your website.  Customers are interested in themselves.  They want to know how your company can tend to their needs.  That you’ve been in business since Reagan was President doesn’t necessarily reassure a bride that you can successfully cater her wedding.  Don’t assume that a client knows the value of your years of experience.  You need to connect the dots for her: “Our 3 decades in business have given us the operational expertise to create an event you will be proud to remember for just as long.”

It’s a subtle difference but one that will help a client understand how your years of experience have given you the skills needed to deliver consistently incredible catering.  Simply telling visitors to your website how long you’ve been in business isn’t enough.  You need to explain to them how those years set you apart from all the other caterers.  Once you’ve done that, your website will stand out from the crowd.