Pre-call food service planning
Pre-call planning, if you don’t have a plan, stay in the car.
When we pulled into the crowded parking lot, I asked the DSR the same question that I asked hundreds of other sales professionals,
“Okay Sparky, what are we doing on this call?”
Sparky replied, “We are going to sell something.”
“Great, Sparky,” I said, “But specifically, what is the point of this call?”
Sparky paused and then smiled as if a light was going on in his head, “Let’s go sell you A LOT of something. “
We did not sell anything.
The pity is that Sparky’s in this world rarely sell much because they don’t have a better plan. And if you don’t have a plan for every call you make, your chances of getting where you hope to go … are slim.
Here’s the good news … There are many bad selling habits that affect our results, but one of the easiest to correct is preparation.
Most of what we call “reluctance” or fear of cold calling comes from a lack of preparation. Most of the reasons DSRs don’t add lines to the order is due to lack of preparation. And I’ve heard all the excuses for not planning a sales call. Everything changes once you get in front of the client, I have more luck when I am spontaneous, working on the spur of the moment. “I’ve been at this for years and I don’t have time for all this planning stuff.” In short, the question is: “Could you be better?” and the answer is “Just a few minutes of preparation could make us all better.”
I learned about pre-call preparation from Charlie Walls, KMPL Sales Manager in Sikeston MO. I traveled with Charlie, I saw what he did, and then I thought I could do this sales thing … Well, I quickly discovered that I was not ready. Charlie worked with me on a couple of calls and then explained that my problem was planning.
If you don’t have a plan, stay in the car. I recommend that you stay in the car. By staying in the car, you can’t say or do something stupid!
If you don’t have a plan, stay in the car.
So how can we move the buyer from “Who are you?” to “When can you tell me more?” Here are three steps to take before getting out of the car;
Most of the planning should be done the weekend before the call. Looking at your call planner, ask yourself a few questions:
“What am I trying to accomplish on this call?” (my goal)
“What do I need with me on this call?”
“What’s in it for the customer?”
Plan the questions you will use during the call. “What questions am I going to ask?”
“Apart from the price, what three things do you like best about the product (supplier) that you are using now?”
“What would the perfect supplier do for you?”
Plan Ahead Instead of asking stupid questions like “Who are you buying from now?” You can easily find out by taking a tour of the dumpster or walking through the kitchen. It’s a pointless question, a waste of time, and it alerts the potential customer to defend the purchasing decision they made when they originally decided to buy from their current supplier.
What questions will you ask existing customers?
If you are trying to sell appetizers, you must have some questions about proven winners for you.
“Mr. Customer, you mentioned last week that you want to update your appetizers … tell me, …
“What have you tried in the past?”
“What kinds of things do you have in mind?”
“Where are your snack sales right now?”
“Where do you think the sales should be?”
“Why would the customer / prospect want to move on to the next step?”
The buyer will want to move on to the next step when you have helped them recognize the profit potential. When that happens, you should have a plan for the next step. What is your plan when the buyer says, “That sounds good” or “That is interesting”? You should be prepared with a good question: “Mr. Prospect, what is our next step?” What will you do when the client says, “I’ll have to think about it” or “Let me prove a case”? Pre-call preparation will allow you to be sure of your response.
Before you get out of the car, take a minute to review your plan, organize your thoughts, and your materials.
Visualize your success …
A customer may have given you a bad check and a truck is two hours late.
Those disappointments will send non-verbal signals to whoever is speaking … what we have to do is replace those thoughts to get them out of our mind. The technique that works for me is called visualization.
I can still clearly remember how good I felt with that bank customer I told you about and how rewarding it was when I got his business. I can remember how I felt when we replaced my competitor at each of the bank branches. I can remember how welcome I was from the employees at each of those branches. They knew I was the guy responsible for finally getting them reliable copiers … I was a hero.
So whenever I was about to make a challenging sales call, all I had to do was sit in the car for a few minutes before the call, close my eyes, and visualize the successes I had with that bank customer. .. and those minutes of viewing always revitalized me and put me in a good mood
You can also do this by visualizing how you developed your relationship with one of your best clients.
Make pre-call preparation a part of your sales plan during tough economic times.