Use Initial Presentation To Create Office Coffee Prospect's Confidence In You

by Len Rashkin
Posted On: 11/22/2017

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Last month, I discussed the approach to making a sales call when a potential client calls to request a quote for your office coffee service. | SEE STORY

This month, I will cover the kind of presentation that can win over this prospect. After qualifying the decision-maker by asking a series of questions, you really want to make an appointment and set up a personal one-on-one in their place of business. Keep in mind that a caller may be asking for information specifically about your coffee brewer and supplies, but there is always a greater opportunity in providing more than 1,000 other products and services that you offer.

You are now in the buyer's office, and it is up to you to make an effective presentation. Always keep this thought in mind when selling to a prospect: The biggest obstacle you have as a salesperson is overcoming the buyer's fear of change, of their making the wrong decision. They fear having to answer to a superior, or a fellow employee, for making a poor decision that could be detrimental to their careers or reputations.

Opening statement: "Mr. Jones, thank you for seeing me today. I would like you to know something about my company and me, and I would love to get to know you and your firm. Together, we can see whether we have the services that you are looking for. Is that fair?"

So, the first step is to win over the buyer and convince him/her that you are trustworthy to do business with the company. Start by giving some information about yourself, to show that you are an upstanding person who has good values, and that you are vested in the local community. Then proceed to substantiate that you and your company are qualified to do business with them.

To qualify yourself as the salesperson, start by giving your name and reporting how long you have been with the company and where you live - especially if it's in the immediate locality. Talk briefly about your family - how many children you have, and so on.

Briefly describe your involvement with local community, charities and schools, etc.; mention any professional awards or certificates of achievement, and summarize your favorite sports, hobbies and other interests. Similarly, get to know the person with whom you're speaking: duties with the company, years of service, residence, children, community activities and sports, among other interests. Look for pictures on the desk or walls that suggest topics to discuss: golf or tennis, vacations and the like.

Having initiated the relationship and qualified yourself, proceed to qualify your company. Show pictures of the owners and employees, its headquarters and trucks, and its menu of services and products. This is what the company brochure is for, so go over it with the prospect.

Note: Never give the buyer the brochure when you are reviewing it together because it's distracting. Whatever you're explaining is likely to be ignored by someone who is looking at one area while you are attempting to describe another.

Doing Business With You

Present an overview of your company that qualifies it as a reliable local enterprise well positioned to help the prospect attain its objectives. Describe when it was founded and how many people its employs; mention any charitable work and contributions, its involvement with regional and national professional associations, and mention corporate awards as well as individual honors that you or your managers have received.

Now describe your professional approach to customer service. Talk about maintaining and repairing equipment, exchanging bowls and the other conveniences that only an operator can provide; next-day or route delivery per week, by uniformed, bonded delivery personnel; a flexible billing system that can accommodate invoicing by company or by department; exclusive availability of particular brewers, coffee and other equipment and products. Emphasize the ease of one-stop shopping - "if we don't carry it, we will get it for you" - and your 100% guarantee on all products.

After you've made this part of your presentation, ask to see the break area so you can evaluate what the company presently is doing for their refreshment services. Get out of the decision-maker's office and into the area that you know best, the breakroom.

The Q&A from last month's article gave you lots of suggestions for things you want to find out, but you can ask again to re-qualify. Here are some of the questions: What does company do? How many employees are on the premises daily? Is there more than one area with a coffee brewer/water unit? What are the days and hours of operation? Who makes the coffee daily? Does the company have a refreshment budget? Do the boardrooms have brewers? All of these details will help you formulate your proposal.

Now that you are in the break area, look around. What is being used? If a coffee box, bag or single-cup cartridge is not visible, ask to see what they are brewing daily. If a box of "frac packs" is handy, look at the codes on the box to see the count and the weights of each bag.

Ask to open the refrigerator to see what else you may want to quote a price on. If you see price stickers on items that an OCS provides, you know the prospect is going to the supermarket. Also be wary of coffee purchased from other stores.

The next step is to go over the features and benefits of the equipment you are showing. Make your recommendation to the buyer after confirming the type of equipment and the number of brewers/water coolers you both agree upon, as well as the coffee types (frac pack, single-cup or single-cup multi-beverage brewers).

Now it is time to put together a suggested quote for the buyer. It may take some time to put together a pricing schedule for a larger potential client, but most buyers want a price ASAP. If you are a seasoned industry salesperson, you most likely can come up with pricing immediately and go for the close while you are with the buyer. This also will give you an opportunity to counter any objections.

I personally like to give a one-year price guarantee to large accounts. This may be important to persuade the buyer, if pricing in the wholesale coffee market looks like it may go up in the near future. If you can't close on the first visit, suggest that you authorize a free week's trial of your proposed new equipment, along with free supplies for everyone to sample. If it is a point-of-use (filtered) water cooler, go for a one-month free trial. Once you do the plumbing work, the chance of their saying no after 30 days is remote.

» LEN RASHKIN is a pioneer in 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 national and local trade conferences, consults on OCS sales and marketing, and is the author of two OCS training programs.