5 Ways to Tell if Your Rep is an Order Taker or a Value Provider

Risky contractSales representatives (still) play in an important role in our economy. Outside of self-serve sales, they facilitate transactions between buyers and sellers—they are the glue that binds tech, info, action and service together today. Yet most of us dread getting calls and emails from sales people for fear they’ll try to sell us something.

The big question is: Are you getting true value from your sales rep or mere transactions?

Sales Call, Line 2

Unfortunately, a lot of the bad rap came from the telemarketing industry. The statistical geniuses laid out a success plan for the ratio of outbound calls to sales results: the more people you call on will eventually lead to a sale. The funny thing is direct mail had been doing this for years. Send out enough pieces in mass, and you’ll get the coveted 2% return—on a good day. Something always sticks to the wall.

Companies rushed to hire banks of telemarketers armed with auto-dialers to plow through terabytes of databases in a non-stop effort to reach as many people as possible with their spiel. Consumers were bombarded with solicitation calls, usually beginning with the dinner hour and continuing throughout the evening.

It’s been about 10 years now since the Do Not Call Registry provided consumers with the ability to put an end to nuisance sales calls. That, combined with today’s digital channels, has all but put an end to telemarketing sales—unless you’re a charity seeking donations or an existing service provider (banks, credit cards, insurance) calling on your customers to offer them additional products and services.

At work, we’re called on by business-to-business (B2B) sales reps wanting to sell us something they believe will help our business. How many voice mails do you get each week from someone wanting a minute of your time to tell you about the benefits of their product or service? How many of those calls do you return? My guess is almost none of them.

When You Want a Call

When you have a need and want to buy something to meet that need, who do you want to talk to? That’s right, a sales rep …really? Yes, of course, you do, because it’s on your terms and not the other way around.

Ironically, even when we’re open to dialog with a sales rep we do so reluctantly assuming we’ll have to endure the pitch process to get to the information we really want—just a simple answer to our question.

Such reluctance stems from past experience with less than professional (just plain bad) sales reps who don’t listen and never shut up. They are the sales types who smother us with a spiel of what they assume we want and how great their company is. Sales reps worth their weight in gold (true professionals) don’t do this. They earn the trust of their customers first—they are the reps people want to do business with.

Good Rep/Bad Rep

The differences between the types of reps you want to do business with and the kind you don’t is simpler to spot than you may think. Here are the 5 top things to look for when seeking value providers vs. order takers:

1. They do their homework before they meet with you

Professional sales people who deliver real value take the time to do their research on you and/or your company. They spend time understanding your business to be able to explain the benefits of their product or service as it relates to your business.

In our business, we help chefs and restaurateurs with fine meat programs tailored to fit their needs. We take the time to learn as much as we can about our customers and prospects by studying their menus, eating at their venues, reading their customer reviews online and more. When we do our homework first, we can have more meaningful conversations with our customers about their business.

Reps who do their homework make better use of your valuable time and streamline the path to meeting your needs. If a sales rep opens the conversation with something like “…tell me about your business,” they probably didn’t do their homework beforehand.

2. They listen first and talk second

We set our aim to abide by the following expression at Buedel Fine Meats: We have two ears and one mouth for a reason. Meaning, we should listen more than speak.

Professional sale reps deliver real value when they listen first. They ask quality questions (sincerely) about your needs and seek comprehension of your goals before talking about their company. They want to know what drives your company’s needs, your decision making process, how you’ll know if your needs are met, and so on.

Value based sales reps know they must demonstrate how their product or service could benefit you in the context of your needs. The only way for them to do this is by listening first. Of course, there is an appropriate time for the sales rep to do all the talking so you can understand how their product or service can meet your needs, but if a rep is talking more than listening first, it’s a sign they’re putting their commission before your needs.

3. They make it safe and earn your trust

Professionals who deliver real value create a safe environment for you and they work to earn your trust. What I mean by a ‘safe environment’ is they create an atmosphere of accommodation without risk. Value adding sales reps accommodate your needs, not theirs. They work with you on your terms, not theirs. They follow your buying process, not their selling process.

Most sales people are under pressure to make sales, but the sales reps that add real value accommodate you without risk. An example of risk would be something like “… you have to buy it today, or the deal is gone.” Really? I doubt it. Earning your trust involves avoiding ultimatums and high pressure tactics.

We generally prefer to do business with people we know and like—we give them our trust because we find it safe to do so. Earning your trust is a process, not an event. Professional sales reps who add value know how to earn your trust and create a safe, no-risk environment to do business with you.

4. They say, “No” and frame it

Quality sales reps expect a long-term relationship with you. They understand that after they’ve earned your trust and your business there should be more business with you down the road. They also know that saying “yes” to everything you ask for, want or need is virtually impossible to deliver on. Conversely, they have the intelligence to say “no” when necessary to avoid purchase disappointments—in reality, they tell the truth.

The best value providers don’t just say “no” when they know their company will be unable to deliver on something, they also frame it with reasons why and propose “yes” alternatives. This gives you, as a buyer, an understanding of what and why they are able to do things and the opportunity to consider buying alternatives.

When you get what you expect, you’re happy. When you don’t, you feel like you’ve been taken.   Professional value based sales reps say, “no” with alternative ways to say “yes” so that you get what you expect.

5. They follow up in a timely manner

Probably the most important attribute of all that distinguishes a value provider from a transactional one is that they follow up in a timely manner. How frustrating is it to you when you’re under deadlines to get things done, and you can’t because you’re waiting and waiting for someone to follow up with you? Very frustrating!

All of us from time to time forget things, lose track of a to-do or without intention let something slip between the cracks. That’s human nature. However, if lack of follow-up by your sales rep is the norm rather than the exception, he/she is not bringing value to your relationship.

True pros are responsive in a timely manner. If they promise to get you an answer to your question by tomorrow, they get your answer by tomorrow, not next week or next month. They do what they say they are going to do. They return your phone calls and emails within a reasonable time frame. They realize that your time is valuable and when you need something it’s important to you. If they can’t follow up in a timely manner personally, they coordinate someone else following up for you on their behalf because you’re important to them.

Wrap Up

Reps who do their homework, listen first, work to earn your trust, avoid false promises and consistently follow up with you in a timely manner are professional value providers. Order Takers are often unprepared, like listening to themselves talk and will say anything to get the sale.

Who would you rather do business with?

From the desk of John Cecala || Website  LinkedIn  @BuedelFineMeats  Facebook

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Meat Picks | 8.21.14

Menu Mayhem

esq-big-boy-081611-xlgAuthor William Poundstone’s four year old book, Priceless: The Myth of Fair Value (and How To Take Advantage of It), is causing a new ruse for the hospitality community. Restaurant News penned a digital lead to a story published in the Daily Mail about it this week and the Food Network also blogged about it.

At task for restaurateurs, is a big reveal on what customers should keep an eye out for on menus—specifically spilling the beans on menu marketing tactics used by many restaurants and why.

One of the main points highlighted in both write ups, cites a 2009 study which showed that leaving the dollar sign off listed menu prices encouraged an 8% spend increase among customers. Which is why, as the UK press put it, “Pound signs are disappearing from menus as quickly as cod are vanishing from the oceans.”

Other coverage highlights included points on why certain items are set off in boxes on menus and why “specials of the day” really aren’t that special at all.

This is definitely one of those posts that any business cringes over. No company wants to advertise why they do or don’t include certain wording or aesthetics in things they publish for public consumption whether it be menus, ads, websites, etc.

Certainly, no one wants a server to say, “I’m going to try to up sell you right now,” right before they suggest more drinks, appetizers or dessert. Consumers are savvy—they understand the art of the deal. (They often try to use it to their advantage too.) Things like this needn’t be spelled out in neon.

Fests & Feasts

sausagefestThe bad news is summer is winding down. The good news is there are still some great festivals left on the calendar. Here a few:

Sausage Fest Chicago kicks off tomorrow at 5 pm in a new location, at St. Michael’s on N. Cleveland Ave. in Old Town and runs through Sunday.

What makes this event a stellar stand out is its “Sausage King of Chicago” competition. Contestants vie for the crown by raising money for charity—this year, for the Wounded Warrior Project. The contestant who raises the most donations for the cause is crowned king. In addition to the royal title, the winner also gets prizes and free food and drink throughout the festival weekend.

BashWabashLogo-300x284Also this weekend, the 11th anniversary of Bash on Wabash takes place between 13th Street and 14th Place on Wabash in the South Loop. The festival offers music, food, drink, vendor booths, arts and crafts, and is jam packed with lots of kid activities, including a 5k Run and 10 mile Bike.

Bash on Wabash brings neighbors and business together to benefit the GSLA (Greater South Loop Association) with a portion of the proceeds going to the South Loop Food Pantry.

Find more festival dates at Time Out Chicago.

From the desk of John Cecala || Website  LinkedIn  @BuedelFineMeats  Facebook

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SOHO Chicago

bldgChicago has evolved as a restaurant mecca of design, dining and overall guest experience. SOHO HOUSE CHICAGO—which opened last Monday—is all these things.

Soho House Chicago is the fourth location to open in the US, joining New York, Miami and Hollywood. It is part of a unique and stunning group of member based hotel-clubs that aim to “assemble communities of members that have something in common.”

Founded in London in 1995, Soho House was built to accommodate people working in the creative fields—film, fashion, advertising, music, art and media—the goal being to “assemble communities of members that have something in common.” Since then, the brand has grown to 13 locations worldwide.

LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION

Nestled neatly near “restaphoto 4urant row” in the Randolph Market District, Soho House Chicago is located across the street from Green City Smoked Meats, on Green Street.

Pictured left: Fresh lunch counter

Soho’s club/hotel accommodations include separate dining, bar and lounge areas, a rooftop pool, 15,000 square foot gym (with a boxing ring), an ultra plush screening room and more. Add to this, three restaurants open to the public located at street level which are dedicated to local sourcing, prime quality and casual cuisine:

photo 5Pizza East Modern wood-fired oven pizzeria: open B/L/D and brunch on the weekends

Chicken Shop Just free range rotisserie chicken (and sides) sold by the whole, half and quarter: open 5-11 M-F and 10-11 on the weekends

The Allis Bar & Lounge serving B/L, Afternoon Tea, cocktails and small plates  Pictured above: Homemade Porchetta

One other standout about Soho is the rich history of their location—and the fact they took the time and care to document it on their website:

Soho House Chicago is located in the Allis Building, a historic five-story industrial warehouse…The building was commissioned in 1907 by Charles Allis, an influential industrialist, art collector and philanthropist from Milwaukee, as the headquarters of the Chicago Belting Company. Close to the city’s Union Stock Yards, which supplied the raw animal hides for its products, the Allis Building is one of the city’s best examples of concrete industrial loft design.

More history here.

RAVE REVIEW

When you work in a business auto-tuned to all things restaurant, hospitality and food service, the next “latest and greatest” is often met with great scrutiny. But that wasn’t the case when James Melnychuk from Buedel took in Soho’s opening this week. Here’s how James describes the experience:

The atmospherePicture1 is that of relaxed sophistication, without the fussiness and pretense often encountered in downtown Chicago. They have activities (seminars and classes) posted daily. It’s not limited to the constraints of an exclusive club—it’s also a meeting place.

The Allis feels like a lounge, where you can have drinks and a selection of great fresh food from the café counter for a relaxing midday or afternoon work break. At Pizza East, the platters of the day’s offerings surround the open kitchen in an absolutely enticingly display.

The atmosphere and deliciousness of the food speak for itself. I’ve been back twice already since the opening for lunch!

We wish Soho House Chicago much success in the Windy City.

From the desk of John Cecala || Website LinkedIn @BuedelFineMeats  Facebook

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Retaining Pride & Passion in a Conglomerate World

Companies make acquisitions for a number of reasons; often to gain new market share, intellectual property, additional products and new revenue streams. Most of the time however, mergers and acquisitions are driven by a desire for higher stock prices under shareholder pressure.

We’ve seen plenty of consolidations in the food industry over the past year. The largest pork producer, Smithfield Foods, sold to the Chinese group, Shuanghui, Sysco is acquiring US Foods, Hillshire Brands moved to acquire Pinnacle Foods and then Tyson is acquiring Hillshire Brands.                                                        meat-knife-colorado-premium 

Lost in Transition

Acquired companies frequently lose their identity when they’re “synergized” into the large acquiring companies. (That’s code for grabbing the customers, products and profits while eliminating everything else that already exists within the acquiring company.) In essence, much of what made the acquired company valuable in the first place is tossed out, ultimately forcing the customer base into a commoditized system of doing business.

The not so synergistic trail has played out more than several times over in the meat industry. In recent years, privately held Chicago meat companies have been gobbled up by multi channel food industry companies. US Foods [now being acquired by Sysco as noted above] bought privately held Stockyards Packing and New City Meats and Allen Brothers was acquired by Chef’s Warehouse, a publically traded specialty foods distributor.

What would happen if two family run meat companies combined?

Buedel & CPF

Up until now, privately held meat companies have been largely acquired by food conglomerates with multiple lines of business. We are excited to share news of just the opposite: Colorado Premium Foods, a privately held family run fine meats processor, has acquired Buedel.

Buedel Fine Meats & Provisions will now operate as a wholly owned subsidiary of Colorado Premium (CPF). Other than the change in entityPicture1 backing of our company, Buedel Fine Meats continues to operate with business as usual – abiding by our commitment to listen to our customers first, and deliver premium quality meats with professional services.

This marriage makes Buedel Fine Meats stronger than ever and gives us increased size, scale and capacity to continue to develop new offerings, expand into new markets and lead by example into the future.

Our profile now provides:

  • A complimentary customer base to serve larger multi-concept owners
  • Additional product lines, with more buying power benefits to our customers
  • Geographical expansion of the distribution footprint for both companies
  • Mutual growth potential to reach new customers with our value nationally
  • Additional capacity to support growth in both businesses across geographic markets

Wrap Up

Retaining value is a top priority for Buedel and CPF. Our respective customers will not experience the pitfalls of commodity service but gain the opportunity to reap new benefits from a combined product and resource pool solely dedicated to fine meats.

Unlike many of the acquisitions before us, Buedel will continue to operate with pride and passion in a conglomerate world – merging old world family traditions with the best modern practices of today.

From the desk of John Cecala || Website LinkedIn @BuedelFineMeats  Facebook

About CPF: Colorado Premium Foods is a family run, privately held premier value added manufacturer of premium beef products focused on serving major U.S. retailers, restaurant chains and co-packing of specialty items for packers across the nation. Colorado Premium custom processes over 100 million pounds of beef annually, operates 2 production and 2 storage facilities with approximately 500 employees and over 100 customers nationwide.                                               Read more at: www.coloradopremium.com

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