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Coffee Veteran Mosely Explores Effective Selling And Innovation

Posted On: 6/17/2008

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CHERRY HILL, NJ -- "Today, we need to deliver not only a great cup of coffee," said Jim Mosely, sales manager for Southern Refreshments (Tucker, GA). "We have to provide service beyond the cup, and many different products. We have to raise the bar."

Speaking at the National Automatic Merchandising Association's first-ever OCS Summit, Mosely pointed out coffee service started out with a simple plan: drop off a brewer and ship enough coffee and basic supplies (filters, condiments, stir-sticks) to keep the client brewing. Today, however, competitive operators must be prepared to provide total breakroom solutions, and it can be helpful to look imaginatively at ongoing product introductions in order to find attractive additions.

He noted that technology is creating almost unbounded opportunity. For example, it would be perfectly feasible right now to design a "coffee terminal" that would respond to voice commands, and perhaps "read" programmable mugs that store their owners' preferences in memory. It is useful to imagine things like this, he suggested, so one can respond quickly when something new enters the market.

Mosely showed the audience a novel paper towel dispenser, about the size of a toaster, that loads with recycled-paper wipes feeding out a hold in the front. The number of sheets in a single load is equivalent to five rolls of conventional paper toweling. Operators can sell this, he emphasized. "Green' is the future."

The products and services to be sold are done so in the context of the operating company's vision, the speaker observed, and sales training consists primarily of imparting that vision while sharing proven methods of communicating. This requires the salesperson to understand the prospect's needs and expectations, and to determine how the company can meet them.

"Use a form that can accommodate all the necessary information," he recommended. "That includes the name, address and phone number of the company, the county or municipal tax rate, the name and title of the decision-maker and the qualification: the number of people, the hours and days worked, the number of shifts -- the night shift will drink more coffee -- and the average age of the clientele. It used to be that the 'older crowd' drank more coffee; that may be changing now. What is the ratio of male to female patrons? Is it a white-collar or a blue-collar location? Is the coffee free? What's the ethnic balance? A predominantly Hispanic population will tend to use more sugar; an Asian clientele often prefers tea to coffee. How many breakrooms are there, and what kind of access do employees have? What's the lunch schedule? This is important for vending, too," Mosely continued. Asking the right questions at the outset makes it much easier to come up with a program that will please the account.

It's also very helpful to ask about the prospect's present service. "Ask, 'How would you rate it: Average? Fair? Poor?' Don't suggest 'good' or 'excellent' as choices," the speaker advised. "And ask, 'If you could wave a magic wand, what would you wish for as the perfect service?'"

The next step is to propose a visit to the breakroom. This, with the information already gathered, will enable the sales rep to make a recommendation: "You qualify for our single-cup system; let's see whether one can be installed in the available space...OK, I'll leave you this one for a couple of days; play with it."

Mosely observed that, in this presentation, he has not mentioned price, nor asked for a demo. And, he said, that scenario is just one of many that can be envisioned, along with other questions that might be asked. One would be, "Do you have a 'green' program?" he noted, and invited the audience to suggest others.

There were many replies, ranging from whether the location receives regular visitors (like a medical office), presently pays rental on a brewer or a water dispenser, presently pays with a credit card and/or orders online -- and, "What do you buy, other than coffee?"

The questionnaire is the key, Mosely summarized. "It's my garden; it lets me plant the seeds, and control how they grow. It can be updated regularly with ongoing order information, and used as the guide to truly personalized service."