All Staff Must Understand The Essentials Of Selling

by Len Rashkin
Posted On: 12/9/2019

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Over the many years of writing my sales and marketing column, as well as personally training over 200 sales, customer service and route drivers to sell more professionally, I created a “must do training list” for all of them to learn in order to be more effective and profitable in their job performance. Space is limited, so I simply will list my favorites:

• Ask, “How many employees do you have on premise daily? Full time and part time?” This may sound simple, but if you ask, “How many employees do you have?” you could be given an inflated number. The buyer may not inform you that the 25 salespeople and 10 service staff only come in one day a month. Without this knowledge, you will have installed more expensive equipment than is warranted for the 15 employees who are there full-time. But if your remove some of it at a later time, you will most likely lose the account.

• Remember, the buyer’s biggest fear of changing services has to be overcome. That fear is “looking bad in front of the boss and the entire company’s employees if the equipment, products and services do not meet their needs.” A salesperson must convince the buyer that the decision to change will be a good one.

• Ask, “On a scale of 1 to 10, how would you rate your current coffee provider, with 10 being the highest?” If answer is not a 10, ask: “What would you want to make it a 10?” The prospect’s answer will give you the key selling points to focus on when selling that decision-maker.

• Explain: “Mr./Mrs. Buyer, the ‘coffee break’ was designed to keep your staff in the office! If you are spending money for your employees’ coffee and they are still leaving your office for a better cup, then you have defeated the purpose of providing free coffee to your staff. “I can provide higher quality coffee and equipment for just a few more pennies per cup to keep your staff on site. Would this be of interest to you?”


• During your presentation, never hand out literature for the buyer to read. Why? Because once they have something to read, they may keep glancing at the entire piece while you are making a point, and they won’t hear you. You can refer to a piece of literature and show it, but hold on to it. Give out your literature just before you leave.

• When reviewing the buyer’s current brewing system, never criticize the choice of equipment. The buyer may be the one who chose that system and he/she may be offended if you belittle it. Say, “The coffee brewer you currently have was a good choice at that time. New technology has been developed in the past few years that will further enhance your refreshment break experience.”

• Get the buyer out his of her office during your presentation and into yours! Do your best to move the conversation to the breakroom – your office – so you can see what brewer is installed, who is your competition what products they are using. Staying in the prospect’s office gives them full control, and interruptions may occur with phone calls and employee walk-ins.

• Know your customers! Once you install a new account, sit down regularly with the buyer and ask questions about their needs throughout the year. Find out whether they celebrate birthdays for employees, entertain clients, have in-house holiday parties, etc.

• Exchange or upgrade equipment before the account requests it, in order to keep out competition! This is a hard one to do for most refreshment services, but you should do it for your more profitable accounts, before the competition gets in the door and offers something new.

•  A sale is not a sale, until it is paid for! (See the next item.)

• Sometimes the best account is the one you do not take. There are times when you must walk away from a potential customer, if it looks too good to be true. Be cautious when a decision-maker rushes you and accepts whatever you suggest and pricing is not an issue. You have to check out their credit standing! Your competitor may have stopped supplying them and be planning to pick up all of their equipment the next day, so the account is desperate to get a new supplier immediately. This is business you want a competitor to have.

• Know your competition! Do they make deliveries on a scheduled route, or the next day, or do they ship by common carrier? Do they charge for delivery, clean equipmment on each delivery and exchange glass bowls, thermal servers and airpots?

• If you sell by low prices, you will lose by low prices. If a buyer is so intent to get the lowest price as to ignore quality and great service, you could easily lose this account to the next competitor who lowers prices even further.

• Make friends with the gatekeeper (front-desk receptionist), once you have landed the account. They will protect you from your competitors getting in the door to see the coffee buyer, or at least alert you if one does get through.


• Do not hire just a route driver, but hire a sales route driver. This is the key to selling more allied products to your accounts. Drivers must be able to communicate effectively and be very presentable. Your company image is at stake each time a delivery is made.

• Salespeople must make a closing statement to get the first order. “Miss Buyer, you acknowledged during our meeting that our single-cup system would be great for your staff to have many choices of hot beverages to drink, and that no one has to consume burnt coffee that was sitting on a hotplate all day. Also, you liked that there is no wasted coffee and messy pots to clean, thus saving valuable employee time. Would Monday be a good time to get started to enjoy all of these new benefits?”
There are many closing statements that can be used, depending on the progress of each of multiple selling situations. I will save these for a future column.

If you have favorite training suggestions, please call me at (516) 241-4883 or email me at I am available for personalized sales training at reasonable rates, or see my full page ad in this issue of VT for my OCS Sales Training CD programs.

LEN RASHKIN is a pioneer of office coffee service. He founded Coffee Sip in 1968 and later merged it with Dell Coffee, of which he became president in 1991. Sales at Dell topped $7 million. He also founded the Eastern Coffee Service Association and National Beverage & Products Association. He is a speaker at trade conferences, consults on OCS sales and marketing, and is the author of two OCS training programs.