Last month, I presented the first of two articles describing my favorite quotations and statements when preparing and presenting to a prospective customer. This second article will be better understood if you read the first. You are preparing your presentation, and the biggest challenge that you have with the buyer is...? Stop and give this some thought.
Your biggest challenge is to convince the decision-maker that what you have to offer is going to be better than what the prospect is currently using to provide coffee breaks. Most of time, the buyer is happy with the results of an earlier choice, and he or she may have a legitimate fear that if a change takes place, the rest of the management team and the staff may be unhappy with the new system. This fear is what you must overcome in the mind of the potential new customer.
The "key to the vault" is in this statement: "If I can show you a much better system of brewing your coffee, that will enhance your coffee break for your employees and deliver a better cup of coffee, without increasing your costs, would you seriously consider switching to this brewing system?"
Wait for the answer, and say nothing until you hear a response. The answer most likely will be "yes." Now it is up to you to prove what you both just agreed upon.
Note that "without increasing your costs" does not mean offering a cheaper price, but rather showing value-added services (time saved, less wasted coffee, increased productivity, etc.) All of these value-added services will lead to a more profitable company.
If you sell by low prices, you will lose by low prices. A buyer who is only looking for "cheap" will not be loyal to any service. His or her loyalty is to anyone who offers a lower price. Sell value, not price, if you want to keep a customer.
During the interview process of fact-finding, the one question that you need answered very accurately is:
"How many full-time employees do you have working at this location daily, and how many part-time employees are working here?" Do not ask, "how many full- and part-time employees work for your company?" The company could have 75 employees, with only 15 working at the location you are trying to sell. You always want to install the proper equipment for the number of employees to be served. Your return on investment could take years, if you install brewers that are not warranted by the number of staff to be serviced.
While discussing the quality of the coffee that you will be offering, a good statement to make is the following: "Mr. Decision-maker, the most expensive cup of coffee is the one that no one drinks in the office. If the coffee is not being consumed because of the taste, then you are defeating the reason to have coffee in the office. The reason for having coffee in the office is to control the coffee break by keeping your employees in the office to do their work.
"Mr. Decision-maker, for just a few additional pennies per cup, you can have high-quality coffee in your office. This will lead to a better work environment and increase productivity. The end result is a more profitable company. Isn't this what you want, Mr. Decision-maker?"
If you are planning to do a taste-test between your coffee and the coffee that the prospect is currently using, it is extremely important to make your coffee first, and let it sit while you make your competitor's coffee. Let the buyer taste your competitor's coffee first, while it is very hot and then have him/her taste your coffee. The reason simply is that cooler coffee will have a more distinctive coffee taste than very hot coffee. Your brand will win out most of the time.
Lastly, assuming that you have landed the client, it is essential to make friends with the receptionist at the front desk. She or he -- the gatekeeper -- is the one who decides who gets in to see the coffee buyer. If they like you and your company, you will be protected from competitors knocking at your door and trying to get the buyer to switch services. Many times, the receptionist makes the decision about which refreshment service the firm will use. Find out what this gatekeeper drinks. Whether it is tea, coffee or hot chocolate, give them an assortment of that beverage to take home. The holidays are a great time to remember the front desk, to protect your accounts for the coming year.
Nothing ever happens in business until something is sold. Selling is an art that can be learned, and it is your responsibility to create programs for your sales and customer service personnel to keep old customer happy and to bring in new accounts to grow your company.
I can be reached at (516) 241-4883 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, to hear your ideas for future articles.
LEN RASHKIN is a pioneer in office coffee service. He founded Coffee Sip in 1968 and after 22 years merged it with Dell Coffee, of which he became president in 1991. Sales at Dell topped $7 million dollars. Rashkin is also a founder and officer of Eastern Coffee Service Association and National Beverage Products Association. His industry honors include NCSA’s (now NAMA) Silver Service Award and NBPA’s Lifetime Achievement Award; he was inducted into NBPA’s Hall of Fame in 1996. His marketing excellence earned him NBPA’s Crystal Bean Award and three NCSA Java Awards. He is a frequent speaker at national and local trade conferences, consults on OCS sales and marketing and has is the author of two OCS training programs.