Sales

Continuing Education

Eat. Drink.

The best salespeople ask endless questions, stretch beyond their comfort zone and are continuously on the quest to learn more to be the best they can be. The elite sales managers I mentor and coach push their teams beyond the scope of the 9-5 job. Sure, we can all do our job but after a while, it becomes the same & we want and crave more.

So how do we mix it up? How do we reboot after a busy season and want to start all over again? How can we be inspired to learn new things?

Through continuing education.

We are fortunate to be in an industry that provides an abundance of educational resources that are affordable, accessible and practical. We can join associations that provide relatable webinars, peer networking and regional workshops to teach us more. (Tip: Check out internationalcaterers.org). We can attend conferences to give us that annual boost to inspire us to think differently, hear fabulous speakers, attend trade shows and network with our peers. (Tip: Check out catersource.com). We also can dine in our respective cities, watch hospitality-designed programs, read magazines, engage in social media and travel.

 

Inspire.

I participate in several outlets to continuously educate myself and keep “my” industry and business fresh. I am honored to be on the ICA board for my sixth year, presently as the President’s Council Chair. I am an active Advisory Board member for Catersource. My coffee table is stacked with magazines to keep me inspired. I invest in travel to open my eyes to other cultures, foods and people.

Due to the geographic jackpot, I was able to spend four working day and nights in Lyon, France prior to meeting travel companions for a driving tour from Geneva, Switzerland to Munich, Germany. Lyon has always intrigued me as a city who’s people live and breathe food & wine with a passion. I had to invest the additional time, money & my curious and adventurous spirit as a solo traveler in order to educate myself on this historic and fascinating city. 

 Bouchon- Le Un, Deux, Trois

Bouchon- Le Un, Deux, Trois

 Quenelles de Brochet (Pike Quenelle in Crayfish Sauce)

Quenelles de Brochet (Pike Quenelle in Crayfish Sauce)

 La Basilique Notre Dame de Fourviere

La Basilique Notre Dame de Fourviere

To say the Lyonnais are passionate about food is an understatement. Each evening I dined at a typical Lyonnais bouchon, which are warm, cozy restaurants serving regional, hearty specialties. I enjoyed local red wines, served in “pots” or “fillettes”. Paul Bocuse’s (may he rest in peace) love for his town and influence is felt everywhere. I visited his namesake culinary and hospitality school as well as the magnificent food hall, Les Halles de Lyon- Paul Bocuse. I grabbed my book and shopped with the locals at the Saint Antoine Market for fresh fruit, cheese and a baguette to eat a simple lunch along the Rhône. I signed up for a fantastic four-hour walking food and wine tour through Vieux Lyon that started with tasting local Saint-Marcellin at the fromagerie (cheese shop) and included stops for pates, local wines, authentic Jésus de Lyon (dry cured sausage), incredible ice cream, local craft beer and ended with the famous tarte aux pralines.

 Paul Bocuse Mural

Paul Bocuse Mural

 Les Halles de Lyon - Paul Bocuse, Chocolate

Les Halles de Lyon - Paul Bocuse, Chocolate

 Lyon Food Tour- Tasting Cheese (Saint-Marcellin)

Lyon Food Tour- Tasting Cheese (Saint-Marcellin)

 Lyon Food Tour- Bouchon Stop

Lyon Food Tour- Bouchon Stop

Throughout my journey I took photographs, notes, menus, asked questions and was an inquisitive “student”. I wanted to better understand the beautiful culture that celebrates the “joie de vivre” lifestyle and that approaches food and beverage as a significant moment in every day life. This was important to learn and be able to bring back to clients back home.

As leaders in our industry, it is imperative that we encourage continuing education. We must provide inspiration, guidance and financial resources for our teams to get out there, explore new ideas and then share with the entire team. I know traveling to France is a fortunate and once-in-a-lifetime experience,  but it is up to you to find your “France” in whatever outlet you can. It can be a road trip an hour away from your home as much as it can be a new restaurant in a different neighborhood in your own town. Just go out and start exploring. Get excited to get out there, be willing to learn, share your findings and continue to be the best you can be.

Time is Money

Eat. Drink.

As a seasoned sales manager, it has been fascinating watching the media coverage of Amazon as it searches for it’s “second city”. Finally, a relatable case study that non-salespeople can understand what we really do! I have been following each step of the sales cycle as many cities have been vying for this big deal.  There are so many steps including the discovery process, delivery of proposals, site inspections, elimination of competitors and the final few cities still standing. Then, the waiting game.

Sales is not cut and dry. It is not just lunches, cocktails and afternoons on the golf course. It really does take time, effort, money, research, creativity and thoughtfulness for a sale to happen. However, it also takes one very important element which is often overlooked, qualifying the business opportunity.

Salespeople often feel the need to bid on every piece of business that comes their way. They cast a wide net hoping for a few fish. They are afraid to ask questions that will save them time and ensure they are the right fit. They make promises with the best intentions of figuring it out if the sale happens. 

No worries, we are caterers, we can figure out anything. By ignoring the qualifying stage, salespeople are wasting their own as well as other team member’s time. This is a true opportunity cost that could be spent on business elsewhere that is truly tangible, attainable and profitable.

Time wasted is money wasted.

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Inspire.

The most impressive news piece regarding the Amazon search was in the Wall Street Journal, May 2, 2018, titled “Hi. It’s Amazon Calling. Here’s What We Don’t Like in Your City”. 

How great is that! 

Amazon is actually calling on some of the cities that have been eliminated to tell them whyAnd kudos to the cities that have actually asked for the feedback. Essentially, these city leaders should be learning from this process for a next time. Were they qualified to bid to be the second city? Did they read the RFP? Were they truly capable of fulfilling all Amazon defined? How much time, money and human resources did they put into the presentation? What can be learned for next time? What changes will they do when the next opportunity arrives? 

Chicago is still a contender in the Amazon bid for their “second city”. Two potential locations for their campus are within blocks of my office on Fulton Market. It will be interesting to see where this lands and if Chicago has what it takes to make this sale happen. For the amount of time, money and effort spent thus far, if we do not get it, I hope the city learns from the loss so they are ready to tackle the next RFP that comes our way.

It’s Time to Get Back to School … Sales School!

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Ah, as an original Upstate New Yorker, there was nothing like this time of year. Crisp autumn mornings. Gorgeous yellows, reds and changing greens of leaves. Apple cider and cinnamon donuts. Football. Jeans and sweaters. Going back to school. Living in the Midwest now, I still get this fabulous change of seasons and September is still my favorite month of the year. I LOVE THE FALL!

There is something else I always loved about this season … it was also that time of year when I would sit with my sales stars to develop next year’s goals, individual sales strategies and plan for the upcoming year. It was that time to recollect on the year thus far, look at what worked, what didn’t work so well and focus on what was ahead. It was mentally “back to school” time to buckle down, strategize and get their individual plans together. As their sales leader, I then collected all the individual plans to develop a company wide annual revenue goal with overall strategic plan. Why did I start this process now? I wanted it to be methodical, well-thought out and “massaged” so the final result would be completed and buttoned up by mid-November. Once the holidays hit, we were all too busy to focus on anything strategic and then boom, it’s the new year.

This strategic goal development process is a daunting task if you have never tackled it before. However, it is imperative for sales and executive leadership to encourage this as they grow their organizations, now. SALESPEOPLE WANT GOALS. They want to be successful, accountable and have defined expectations. The easiest way to start measuring tangible success is writing down an agreed upon achievable numeric goal. This is the first and initial step toward individual sales success that in turn results in team success.

Get your team back to school now. Do not wait until the new year begins. That’s kind of like being the last person in the lunch line.