Not long ago, I received a call from a rather frustrated caterer. He felt as though his sales people were not actively selling, just writing orders. I asked him why he felt that way, and his response was, “they don’t leave their desks to go out and prospect.” It was an issue that caused him concern and frustration, but lucky for him—this is an area I was able to help him with.
Let me share my definition of an order taker versus a salesperson.
Typically, an ‘order taker’ is a derogatory term that is used to describe a person who has a sales job and title, but does not actually sell services/products, etc. However, I have my own definition.
A customer will decide what they want to purchase, and will then contact the business in question so that they can place their order. What the order taker will do is process the order, and may suggest a few add-on items if they are applicable. However, they mostly cover the four Ws: who, what, where, when. Once this has been done, the sale is complete.
If the customer knows what they need, then an order taker is generally all that is required. The main issues with order takers, however, are that they by and large offer commodities. These are, for the most part, identifiable by cost, delivery, and the simplicity of ordering.
Some people think that because their salespeople don’t actively prospect and instead only handle the phone and email inquiries, they are order takers. However, my definition of the term does not agree with this. They are inside salespeople.
A company will spend a good deal of time, energy, and funds in branding their business to get the phone to ring. However, the same time, energy and funds aren’t always used to train a salesperson to handle the calls.
The events industry
The events industry is a powerful one. It evokes emotion in people and is, in many ways, an emotional purchase. This relates to events such as weddings, galas, and retirement celebrations. It is also a unique industry, as most people are in the field not because they excel in a certain area, but because they are passionate. They are passionate about cooking, passionate about design, passionate about planning.
Unlike some industries, we ask our people to do the following:
These are skill sets, and our people have to be trained in all five and then they need to master them. The thing is, an order taker can be a salesperson. It is all about having the right skill set and knowing when to use it.
Making the change
So, how do you turn your order takers into salespeople? The process is not always a fast one, and it can take time for your team to fully transition. Here are the ways in which you can give your team a push in the right direction.
• The first thing to do is make sure you take things slowly. You need to have realistic expectations of your team and cannot take things too fast. Patience is key when it comes to transitions like this. Seventy percent of order takers will make a good and smooth transition to salespeople given enough time and training.
• A great sales tool that many of us tend to overlook is personality. Personality plays an important role in sales and in the workplace. Anyone might be able to sell if the price is cheap enough or if what is being sold is something that people cannot live without, like air. The truth, however, is that neither of these luxuries are part of the scenario for a vast majority of us.
• A salesperson is engaging and hunts for prospects. They develop relationships with their customers that are built on trust, as well as a pleasant attitude. They have strategies in place for the clients they want to sell to, and often they will sell six to 12 months in advance. They are passionate, skilled, and know what their clients want and need. Plus, they are continually prospecting.
• A salesperson spends time planning the future, and they aren’t always about closing the deal and moving straight into the next call. While they do listen to what the customer wants, they also make suggestions and help them to find the best deal and product for their needs. Unlike order takers, they don’t rely on low hanging fruit.
There are six stages in sales:
– Ask and listen
– Know the client’s needs
– Present solutions
– Gain trust
– Close the sale
Moving from an order taker and into a more well-rounded salesperson also helps them to become more conversationally fluid with a prospect. Generally, an order taker will use the same script over and over as they go between calls and clients. A salesperson is able to bring it up a notch and mix up their questions and responses, creating a unique experience for each client.
Those people who are booking an event—remember, an emotional, celebratory, and personal event—want to use businesses that employ people who are passionate, eager, and ready to work with them. Clients want people are friendly and eager to please, but also provide a solid representation of the business that they are working for. The events industry is one that is exciting and alive, and the people working for it—especially in the sales sector—need to be the epitome of that.
See Meryl at Catersource! Meryl Snow will be presenting three seminars March 12-15 in New Orleans, LA at Catersource.