By FoodStorm | August 18th, 2017
Organisations that adopt a sales-oriented culture create excellence for customers and competitive advantage, regardless of their industry. Sales can be just as important as operations and product quality for rapid, sustained growth and profit, particularly in catering where margins can be low.
While culture is hard to get right, it’s essential to consider if you want to transform your catering company and achieve high customer satisfaction as well as enduring customer relationships.
Successful sales-oriented organisations are aggressively focused on selling products and services, but not at the expense of ignoring the customers’ wants and needs. A sales-oriented organisation seeks to grow profitably through acquiring, developing, and retaining customers.
Sales-oriented businesses will often use intensive promotion, upselling and cross selling, and price-focused strategies. Everything from strategy, processes, organisation, and culture can be positively impacted by adopting a sales-oriented approach.
Culture starts from your mission statement. Your company’s mission and values should be refined to reflect strong customer values. State that you’re a sales-focused organisation and that you grow by acquiring new customers, developing existing customers, and retaining profitable customers. Use your mission statement to guide everything below, including your strategy, processes, branding, marketing and staff training.
A sales-centric business is focused on the customer experience from initial contact to acquisition and post sales. Your sales team should understand your customers and connect with customers at key points or set milestones. These contact stages could involve something as simple as an email offer for a monthly discount before a major event, or feedback requests a few days after a catering delivery.
Every time the customer acts, check whether you need follow up with request for feedback or offers to nudge customers towards conversion. Make use of a CRM system to track behaviours and identify opportunities to act so that you can maximise sales opportunities.
Commit collectively – from management to production staff – to working towards a sales culture. This means basing decisions on the customer acquisition and retention mission, and to everything else that that will support this mission. This could mean refining staff remuneration to align with the sales culture and encouraging everyone from kitchen staff members – who have no direct contact with customers – to customer service staff to keep the sales-focus goals in mind.
Successful sales-focused organisations use appropriate metrics to measure outcomes. Your customer satisfaction, complaint, call resolution, and other related metrics should reflect a strong prioritisation of customer needs. Your metrics should also allow you to refine your sales process for maximum acquisition and retention. You could set up metrics to focus on sales call improvements, opportunities for upselling, and improved account management.
Organisations that are sales focused view sales as a complete process with specified stages for every single transaction. This can vary for every catering operation, but your sales team should be completely familiar with every stage and be able to replicate activities that lead to success. For example, there might be specific stages that your team knows are common opportunities to cross sell or upsell, for all customer account types.
Beyond identifying your mission as a sales-centric organisation, your business should have specific strategies and goals for achieving sales and customer retention targets. Draw on local market knowledge and research trends to set out a strategy for taking advantage of the opportunities that are in the market. Align your goals with your strategy and make sure they’re realistic and achievable.
Remember, your sales process isn’t just about getting the customer on board; it’s an opportunity to add value for the customer. Your sales processes should integrate steps that provide customers with appropriate information and guidance so that they can make the best purchase decision for their needs. For example, your sales team can provide advice that helps customers work out which catering package is the best for their requirements.
A sales-oriented organisation rewards its employees for being sales focused and customer centric. Even behind-the-scenes team members, such as kitchen staff who do not have contact with customers, should be rewarded for any positive customer-centric behaviour.
At the core of your sales-centric processes is a high-performing sales team that adds value during the sales process. A high-performing sales team is led by a capable sales manager who trains your team and acts as a great coach to sales staff. The sales manager should be able to recognise and cultivate talent in addition to administering all aspects of the sales process.
Sales team members should be outstanding relationship builders and business-development people. Motivated and independent, your high-performing sales team members set a great example for the rest of the organisation.
A sales-centric organisation is transparent and trustworthy throughout all stages of the sales process, from providing information to customers about products to the post-sales stage. There are many ways you can build trust, but being accessible, keeping customers updated when necessary, and being responsive tends to build confidence and trust. Knowledgeable staff members who are prompt and fulfil promises also convey responsibility.
Sales-focused organisations are customer focused, but they’re also committed to outstanding sales outcomes and rewarding employees for sales-oriented behaviours. If you build a sales-oriented business by refining your mission and working to develop a highly capable sales team, you’ll likely be able to achieve sustained growth through customer retention and development.