Dec 18 2017
Kristi Hines
4 Minutes to read

Do you continue to ask your prospect how many people will be attending your sales meeting to no avail? Maybe they’re unsure of the headcount, or they just can’t find the time to share it. Either way, a lack of a headcount makes it difficult to plan for food. When you’re trying to present an effective sales pitch, the last thing you need to worry about is if your audience’s stomachs are growling. Here are some tips for gently nudging an estimate out of your contact and planning your catering order accordingly.

How to Get an Estimate

When you’re having trouble getting a firm headcount for an upcoming sales meeting, there are some other ways to get an estimate without having to ask for it multiple times:

  • Confirm if there are any dietary restrictions. – Ask your point of contact if anyone has any special requests and you may get a better estimate of how many people are coming. Plus, ensuring that you have vegetarian, vegan, gluten free, peanut free, and similar options for those with dietary restrictions will make everyone at the meeting feel welcome.
  • “Our meeting room comfortably seats 10…” – While discussing details, casually drop how many seats you normally have in your meeting room and ask if the number sounds adequate. If you haven’t gotten a solid count from your point of contact, this should at least help you gauge the maximum number of people coming to the sales meeting.

How to order enough food for sales pitches

  • Visit the client’s website for an About Us page. – If your point of contact says that everyone on a specific team, in a specific department, or with a specific title will be attending your sales pitch, look for an About Us or Meet Our Team page that can help you organize your own roster.
  • Utilize the client’s LinkedIn Company Page. – Larger companies might not have an About Us page on their website so try looking them up on LinkedIn. Their Company Page should include a list of the company’s employees right at the top. You can filter this list by keywords or job title to get an estimate of how many people may attend your sales pitch based on their function at the company.
  • Devise a headcount of decision-makers. – Another way to estimate attendance, though less-straightforward, is to determine how many decision-makers the client has in their company. In The Brevet Group’s list of “Mind Blowing Sales Statistics”, they estimate that a company with 100 – 500 employees, has an average of seven decision makers that are involved in buying decisions. Using your client’s website or LinkedIn Company Page, figure out the total number of employees and use Brevet’s formula to estimate the number of decision-makers who might be sent to hear your sales pitch presentation.

How to Order Enough Food

When planning the catering order for an effective sales pitch presentation, you can go about it two different ways. You can err on the side of caution and order more food than needed to ensure that all attendees get a proper lunch (and maybe have some leftovers to share later with your colleagues). Or you can stay budget-conscious and order just enough to feed the people who attend the pitch. Either way, when choosing a caterer, make sure you have a handle on the way they package their food and the portion options.

Handling Catering Portions

Not all catering portions are created equal in appearance, even if they are expected to feed the same number of people. Ordering individual meals like lunchboxes and individual salads will make it more obvious that you ordered too much or too little. If you are unsure about the exact number of attendees, stick to buffet style platters and trays. Attendees can control their own portion size and type of dish, so you can safely order for the maximum number of attendees expected.

Catering Ideas for a Pitch

If you decide to cater platters or trays, here are some ideas to get you started.

  • Go festive with a build-your-own taco platter. You can warm up the group before the main course with an order of chips and salsa.
  • Sandwich restaurants typically offer trays with half sandwiches. If you’re estimating your headcount, order a variety of halved sandwiches that are enough to feed the maximum number of attendees.  Also include a selection of chips, cookies, and apples.
  • Catering packages from Italian restaurants often sell family-style portions of entrees and salads. Include a mix of omnivore favorites, like meat lasagna, and vegetarian favorites, like spinach ravioli.
  • Asian restaurants and sushi bars offer catering packages with assorted sushi rolls that fit every taste and dietary need. Round out the meal with appetizers like edamame or seaweed salad.
  • Greek caterers offer build-your-own trays of marinated meats, vegetables and classic accompaniments like tabbouleh and hummus.
  • Southern-style eateries often sell homey family-style dishes like barbecue or fried chicken. Appeal to vegetarians with salads, fried okra, and assorted steamed vegetable sides.
  • Indian food trays are packed with mouthwatering dishes like Chicken or Shrimp Tikka Masalas, Saag Aloo, and vegetable curry. The diversity ensures omnivores, vegetarians, vegans, and spicy food lovers can all find something they like.

Don’t forget to stock post-lunch beverages like coffee (caffeinated and decaf), water, soda (regular and diet), tea, and juice.

Key Takeaways
  • Get an estimated headcount by asking if anyone has dietary restrictions, telling your point of contact the size of your meeting room, and researching the client’s website.
  • Choose catering portions that will feed the maximum number of attendees and include options for omnivores, vegetarians, and vegans if requested.
  • Try popular dishes and those that have been mentioned as excellent in restaurant reviews.

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Written by:

Kristi Hines

Posted in: Food at WorkSales

Tagged with: Events and Meetings, Food Ordering, Lunch, Selling