This month, we listened in on the webinar, “Spring into Success: Simple Steps You Can Use to Take Your Sales and Marketing to the Next Level” presented by first-time ICA Board Member Jonathan Jennings. Jennings has been with CT Wedding Group for 20 years.
During the webinar, over 80 people listened in to learn how to become better salespeople. “If you think on, reflect and implement some of the things we’re talking about, I promise you will be a better sales professional.”
Under the basic assumption that anyone who reaches out is going to buy a wedding, Jennings said, so it really comes down to selling yourself. “If we work harder and smarter, more of them will buy from us, and we will be more successful,” he said.
Reasons why people lose sales
When it comes to losing a sales, “it’s almost never the price,” Jennings claims. Here are some tangible ways to prevent the loss of a sale:
- Talk less. The customer should do more talking than you do. They are looking for someone who wants to know what they’re looking for, while understanding what they want.
- Listen more. As a society, when listening to someone else talk, our faces oftentimes betray us be looking like we are listening, but that we’re also thinking ahead to what’s going to be said next. When you listen deeply to what the customer is saying, they are going to reveal to you how to close the sale.
- Build a real connection. People can buy food from a lot of different people. However, they’re not really buying the food, they’re buying you. People are more inclined to buy food from people they like and have a connection with.
- Find the middle ground. We all know what it feels like to encounter a salesperson who’s disinterested or over the top exuberant.
- Keep on top of your product knowledge. They don’t know any more than you do. That’s one of the reasons why we don’t generally hire outside salespeople. We grow our own. They start in production, learn food and planning, and by the time they get to sell for us, their experience has grown. They deeply understand what it is we sell.
- Pay attention to the buying signals. This includes both verbal and non-verbal. We miss them because we’re talking, not listening, so therefore we’re missing what is happening before our eyes.
- Ask for the sale. It’s amazing how many salespeople don’t ask for the sale.
- No follow-up. Make sure to check back in with a potential customer. Maybe they have additional questions, maybe they misplaced your contact information. By following up, you’re demonstrating that you’re there to help, and want to work with them.
During the webinar, Jennings also discussed actionable ways to become a better salesperson:
- Honestly evaluate yourself and write an improvement plan for yourself. Be a little bit better every day, and as time passes, you’ll see big changes in sales.
- Organize your workflow. Organize your space, your desk, and your files. Put together a daily planner. You will be more effective and less stressed.
- Write a script and regularly rehearse. For all intents and purposes, you’re an actor — you’re putting on a live performance. Rehearse it so much that it becomes internalized and you can deliver it without even having to think about it. Because you need your brain to be able to do other things.
- Roleplay. There’s no better way to perfect your craft than by roleplaying. If you roleplay regularly, you will become better at your job.
- Improve your connection. Improve the quality of your connection with the customer. Get them to fall in love with you and what you do. Remember, they can buy catering from anyone.
- Follow the “5 time follow-up” rule. Follow up five times before a lead is dead. There are plenty of reasons that people don’t get back to you that are perfectly legitimate. If you’re willing to put the work in, the sales are there.
- Don’t be afraid to try things. Don’t let yourself get stale. Freshen things up.
- Ask for the sale. Even if you don’t think you have a shot in the world of getting it, ask for it anyway. Some people ask at the very beginning. The worst they can do is tell you no.
There are also eight ways you can become a better sales manager:
- Recommit to your team. Meditate, go on vacation, wipe the slate clean. If all you’re dealing with are the problems, you’re going to look at the sales team and only focus on the problems.
- Make sales meetings better. Ask for honesty in their evaluations. What can we be doing better? Give your salespeople the training and love they need.
- Mystery shop yourself. Qualifying is happening in the shadows. See places where you need to correct, and also see what best practices arise.
- Mystery shop your competition. How can you prepare to compete against the other team if you don’t have any idea what the other team is doing?
- Ask better questions. Dig deeper; be a detective.
- Measure individual and team performance. How were you measured? The number of people that can’t answer that question is astounding. If your sales team doesn’t have goals, then they have nothing to aspire to and you can’t really effectively measure if they are performing or not.
- Set goals. For the team, for yourself, and for all your salespeople. But remember to make sure they’re realistic. For example, if the maximum number of weddings you’ve booked in a month is 15, then your goal for the following month shouldn’t be 40. Goals that are blatantly unachievable and unrealistic are unmotivating.
- Make your celebrations public and critiques private. Celebrate the successes of your team by taking them out, or showcasing what you were able to accomplish. But if something didn’t go perfect, discuss it with the individuals involved in private. No need to draw attention to every mistake.
Stay up to date on all of ICA’s monthly webinars by checking out the full list of recent webinars, and be sure to stay tuned for upcoming ones.
CT Wedding Group is a proud member of the ICA. For more information, visit internationalcaterers.org.
Photos courtesy of ICA