Our Take

Musings on the Foodservice Industry

Why do so many foodservice sales people fail?

Why do so many people come into selling and after a year or two they are gone?

Here are the reasons that sound good. These reasons justify, in the failures mind, the decision that selling is not for them. These reasons justify their failure.

“This is not worth it.”

“There must be a better way to make a living.”

“I’m going back to school and get a real job.”

“All the good territories are already taken.”

“The competition is ruthless.”

“I’m going to try selling a different line.”

“They expect too much.”

“How can they expect me to sell anything at these prices?”

The light at the end of the tunnel went out for these “would-be” sales people. They sold themselves on the idea that they were not “cut out to be in sales.” They saw only the glamour of being independent with opportunity to earn “easy” money. Do any of these reasons sound familiar? Yes- of course they do. We have all had these thoughts at some point.

So why does one person become an outstanding success at selling while another, with the same potential, fail?

You are parked behind a restaurant sitting in your car waiting for your appointment time. The person you are going to see is probably much older and more experienced than you. You walk past the dumpster and the smell practically makes you sick.  As you open the door the heat from the kitchen hits you like a blast furnace. The person you are going to talk to is busy working. You know he sees you but he doesn’t make eye contact with you. He is making you stand there as if you are invisible.  At this moment in time the truth will reveal itself – are you, or are you not, going to succeed in a business with such a high failure rate? At this moment, you will know how well you understand the principles and psychology of the buyer/seller relationship, or simply “The Principles of Selling.”

If you DO NOT understand the PRINCIPLES your reaction is predictable. You get humiliated. Upset. Embarrassed. Mad. You take the prospects rudeness as a personal insult. Your ego gets wounded and your mind starts filling up with negative thoughts. When he finally turns to talk to you, your attitude is reflected in your face. You try to get control of your attitude – but it’s too late. The prospect won in the first round!

If you DO understand the PRINCIPLES your reaction is also predictable.  You understand that you are a sales person and the prospect is on the defensive. They are afraid you are going talk them into something they do not want. They are afraid you have a certain power over them and that is why they are ignoring you.

By understanding the PRINCIPLES, you know that the customer is simply setting the stage and sending you a message – a message that says he is important, his time is valuable, he is in control of this meeting. By understanding the PRINCIPLES, you do not let the situation turn negative.

What do you do? You say to yourself

“I really love what I do – I love my profession.”

“I really love playing the selling game.”

“He’s made his first move and he is doing it quite well.”

“When he does acknowledge me, I will greet him with a smile and an attitude of appreciation for giving me some time.”

Do you see the difference?  So, what is the reason so many sales people fail? Here is the reason – read it carefully. The person who fails usually has been thoroughly trained in the products and services they are going to sell – they have NOT been trained in the psychology and principles of selling.

Sounds simple, I know.

Most non-selling managers and business owners believe that successful sales people are born that way. This is simply not true. A sales person needs professional training just as much as a doctor, lawyer, airline pilot, accountant, carpenter or chef. Why should selling be any different?

Successful sales people learn the principles of selling and apply them. Sales people who fail do not learn the principles of selling and rely on their ability to “wing it”, which ultimately lets them down.

Not just having a positive attitude – but managing your attitude under all the various selling situations. Programming your mind to react in a certain way in a specific situation. To manage your attitude, you must monitor your thoughts and feelings under every selling situation. Approach it as if you were doing a scientific study.  When you find that you are reacting negatively to a specific situation, you have found an opportunity to sharpen your skill.

Instead of letting these negative situations defeat you, lean into them and accept the challenge.

Bob Oros is a well-known foodservice sales trainer – you can buy his books ($1.99 each) at http://boboros.com/

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