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Win Reception's Attention, And Win The Cold-Call War

by Len Rashkin
Posted On: 3/24/2013

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TAGS: Len Rashkin, OCS sales questions, OCS salespeople, cold call sales, OCS presentation, office coffee service, office coffee sales, OCS education, OCS customer service, customer relations, coffee education, coffee business, office refreshments, office coffee service, OCS sales training, vending, vending machine, writing OCS proposals

Those of you who have been reading my articles over the past 20 years are familiar with my belief that in order to be effective in sales, you have to be different from your competition. If you present to a potential buyer and are offering the same thing your competition provides, why would the decision-maker give you their attention? The same holds true when you are soliciting door-to-door. Let's take a look at several door-to-door salespeople and see what they are doing or not doing to get the attention of the decision-maker.

Derek: "Good Morning, my name is Derek and I am with Delicious Coffee Service. I would like to see the person in charge of ordering your coffee."

Legend, the receptionist (she is a legend in her own time): "Oh, we already have a coffee company, but thank you anyway. Goodbye."

Carter: "Hello, my name is Carter and I am with Regal Coffee Service, and I can save you money over what you are paying now. Who does the buying of your coffee supplies?"

Casey, the receptionist: "That person is not in today, but we love our coffee company and will not switch our service."

Morgan: "Hi, my name is Morgan and do you have a single-cup coffee brewer?"

Taylor, the receptionist: "Oh, yes we do have one, and my boss is very happy with our coffee selections. Have a nice day."

Jordan: "Good afternoon, I am with Duke Refreshment and Water Services. Do you have a water cooler service?"

Freawaru, the receptionist: "Yes we do have a water cooler with bottled spring water. I am too busy to speak to you today; have a nice afternoon -- 'bye."
Well, do any of those dialogues sound familiar to you? My point is that you must create an opening that is different and more exciting -- a statement that awakens curiosity in the mind of the receptionist, that gives him or her a reason to continue the conversation.

Let's go back and create a better opening statement. Then I will break it down to demonstrate what we are actually communicating to the decision-maker.

Carrie: "Good morning, Jaclyn." (The receptionist's name was engraved on a metal plate on her desk). "My name is Carrie and I am with Excellent Coffee and Water Services here in Townville. I was just visiting IBM, one of our long-standing customers, and had a few moments between appointments. I want to introduce to you and your company something brand-new and exciting that will make your refreshment break much more enjoyable and more efficient."

Carrie waits for Jaclyn's reply: "What is it?"(Carrie gives a brief overview of what Excellent CWS has to offer her, and adds) "oh, before I forget, here is an emery board for you, I hope you can use it." Jaclyn: "Thank you. I can always use one of these."

Carrie: "Jaclyn, how many full-time employees do you have on premise daily?" She waits for the answer. "And are you the person who orders the breakroom supplies, and if you're not, who does the ordering?"

Jaclyn: "No, I do not -- that's about the only thing I do not do. The person who takes care of the coffee is our purchasing agent, Mark."

Carrie: "Thanks and I can really appreciate your position. You are on the front line of what takes place daily in your company. I am sure you are appreciated by your boss. Jaclyn, could you put me in touch with Mark, please?"

Now, let's take a look at the opening statement and break down each area to see why it is needed.

The first sentence is friendly, and addresses the receptionist directly by name. Always use a name to be more personal, if you can. Carrie identifies herself and her company, along with what her company does, and lets the buyer know they are a local, neighborhood business.

The second sentence creates credibility, so try to let the receptionist know about any branded companies you service. The reason is that if IBM does business with Carrie and her company, they must be good; and "long-standing" suggests client loyalty established by Excellent CWS's good service.

Now, the third sentence is the attention grabber: "introduce ... something brand new and exciting." This statement raises the question in Jaclyn's mind, "what is it that could be brand new and exciting, that will make our coffee break more enjoyable and efficient?" Carrie waits for that question, which will show that her sales technique worked and Jaclyn wants further information.

The next stage is the implied proposition, "Now I owe you an answer -- and a reward for asking." Carrie gives Jaclyn an emery board for her nails. If the receptionist were a man, the small present might be an inexpensive shoeshine pad that will apply a dab of polish, and a buffer that will shine his shoes. Your company logo and phone number should be on each gift. Once the receptionist takes the gift from you, he or she will feel obligated to hear what you are offering, and to answer your next questions, "how many full time employees ..." and "who makes the decision on ordering coffee, etc.?"

Now it is up to you to make a great presentation.

If you would like to share with me how you approach receptionists when making door-to-door cold calls, please call me at (516) 241-4883 or email me at

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.