This article is part of a series called “Getting Off-Premises”, which examines how to build an off-premises business.
If you’ve ever crossed paths with a good salesperson, you probably recognize that it’s hard to brush him off. Sales is an art, and some people can do it magnificently. Good salespeople learn the product so well they can tactically market it while chatting up prospects about sports and family. They can persuade customers that the product is in perfect harmony with their needs and wants. Customers who come in contact with them are convinced that they’re much better off for spending their money.
It’s this type of trained professional that you’ll need to lead a sales team for the catering arm of your multiunit restaurant company. Let’s talk about finding that ideal salesperson.
1. Pick a Sales Leader with the Right Traits
Make sure you hire a trained sales professional for this role, not just a brand ambassador from your company. Great sales leaders have the following traits and skills:
- A natural independence to find sales opportunities
- Insight to identify and solve a customer’s problems
- Tenacity to turn a customer’s initial “no” into a sale
- Passion for educating customers on products and services
- A pleasant and relatable personality to build trust
- Fluidity to adapt to the situation
- Great communication skills
- Emotional intelligence to get buy-in
- Interpersonal skills to manage different personalities
- Passion for mentoring and training individuals
2. Hire Experienced Sales Professionals
Finding a seasoned “catering salesperson” can be a challenge because this is a relatively new specialty. But there are many talented short-cycle sales professionals from other industries who can adapt their sales experience to your catering business. In the end, you want a sales leader with a track record of building relationships with customers and staff. Fostering trust in customers is good for sales.
3. Create Shared Company Goals
As I mentioned, salespeople are naturally independent, and some might place their own goals first. You can’t let that happen. Even in a large organization with multiple restaurants and divisions, everyone across the board—operations, finance, marketing, sales, and so on—needs to focus on the same goals despite their different roles. Hire sales leaders who get that. Then, make sure your sales leaders understand what they specifically need to pull off to help you fulfill those goals.
4. Compensation and Competition for Your Sales Team
Create some pressure in your commission structure. Here’s a good rule of thumb: 75% guaranteed salary + 25% commission based on sales. Make sure at least 25 percent of their compensation is “at risk.” The opportunity to earn commissions, perks, and bonuses keeps goal-oriented salespeople hungry to sell more.
Reward them for meeting sales goals. Salespeople are always looking to edge out their peers. Incentivize them with short-term competitions and rewards, sales spiffs, and perks that keep them focused on the targets you set.
Sharing best practices with peers. It’s crucial that your salespeople share best practices with each other. Make sure your sales leaders foster a collaborative environment. Sales teams that work in isolation aren’t nearly as successful.
5. Track All Sales Efforts
Great sales leaders aren’t down in the trenches as much as they’re coaching sales reps and tracking performance. Performance tracking must be done to ensure that everyone is following standard procedures for generating leads, following up, and closing deals. The easiest way to do this is with tracking software hosted on a cloud-based system, which measures performance in real time. If your sales team lags in certain areas, the tracking software will hold clues about where they need guidance.
When you assemble a great catering sales team with the same attention given to hiring restaurant managers and executive chefs, you’ll see revenue rise quickly and consistently.
Are you doing everything you can to grow your catering business? Learn how to get more catering orders.