Combine a lazy and very rainy afternoon and an extremely entertaining YouTube clip of some very bad meals and you get a four-hour binge of Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares. Somewhere between the restaurant serving chicken wrapped shrimp and the undercooked lamb with chocolate syrup, I started thinking this is a show about sales.
Most sales companies don’t have problems as immediate or dramatic as you might find in a kitchen, but hidden problems are often more difficult to spot and address. It is pretty hard to ignore a freezer full of rotten fish, but a sales funnel full of rotting leads is wasted money all the same. They may smell a little different, but the challenges of achieving business growth are universal.
When asked, most of the restaurant owners say their main problem is lack of customers. The issue is that lack of customers is a symptom, not the root of the problem. Everyone is after sales growth, but not every team is set up to win. So, let’s roll up our sleeves and take a look at four common sales nightmares and the best practices for cooking up sales success.
1. You don’t have a process.
In a restaurant, consistency is key. If I order my meal on Tuesday when Pam is cooking, it should taste the same as if I ordered it Friday during Dave’s shift. Sales works the same way. Repeatable processes and routines are at the heart of any winning sales team. Start by adopting a sales methodology if you don’t already have one. If you do have one, re-commit to working the program step-by-step. Using a sales method keeps opportunities flowing through the sales funnel.
Also, review CRM use regularly. The entire team should be using the system in the same way. You should be able to view anyone’s opportunities and know exactly what is going on simply by reviewing the notes.
2. You don’t invest in training and development
The owners and managers of many restaurants work extreme hours. These poor over-worked souls are really doing the best they can, but there are only so many hours in the day. Often, people are put in roles based on need instead of skill and there is little to no training for their new position. The managers are frustrated by their team’s performance, but can't do much about it, since there just aren’t the resources needed to develop the staff.
When it comes to sales, even companies that do extensive new hire training can have these issues. Training can be overwhelming and only so much can be retained at once, limiting the benefits of that initial investment. On-going training and coaching have been proven to be much more effective in providing real professional growth.
3. You don’t measure the right things
Most restaurants and sales teams measure productivity, but don’t always capture the big picture. Whether you own a bistro and count ticket times or you’re a sales manager measuring call volume, you might be incentivizing the wrong things if you focus too much on volume. A steak should take more than 5 minutes to cook properly and a quality call takes a lot longer than a halfhearted voicemail. While there is value in measuring ticket times and number of dials, out of context, they can mean very little. Keep your metrics aligned with company values and you won’t be sending the wrong message about what's important.
4. You aren’t keeping your “regulars”
Maintaining and expanding existing relationships is more cost effective than attracting new customers. If you are losing your existing customer base, satisfaction surveys can be a good way to determine what is at the heart of your retention problem. Being proactive about nurturing relationships and tracking and addressing sales variance can prevent market share loss before it starts. Other key factors will be keeping yourself aware of changes that may impact your industry and researching your competition regularly.
While most companies aren’t experiencing problems as severe as the ones on TV, implementing new practices can seem overwhelming when time or resources are limited. Outsourcing sales and/or marketing services can be an affordable and effective option, but don’t bother trying to convince Gordon Ramsey to trade kitchens for boardrooms. While his rants may make for compelling TV, a majority of the restaurants he “saved” have since closed. At The Alias Group, we work collaboratively, acting as an extension of the businesses we serve. We have many successful partnerships with companies that appreciate that no one grows alone. If you need a little consulting or a full-service solution, don’t wait until you have a nightmare on your hands to reach out.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Melissa Moss is the Corporate Sales Lead at The Alias Group. She manages the process that tracks, monitors and reports on sales strategy and activities, conducts sales trainings and is the go-to person for lead generation.
Before coming to work at The Alias Group in 2017, she primarily worked in financial services. She says, “When I decided to move away from banking, I made a list of 17 qualities I needed from a company to have kind of career I wanted for myself. Things like a strong sense of culture, commitment to developing employees and community involvement were very important to me. The Alias Group checked all my boxes. It is easy to dedicate yourself to a company when it is everything you wanted in a place to work.”
Melissa’s greatest joy is her family. She is also a self-proclaimed nerd, passionate and prepared with fan theories for everything from Star Wars to superheroes to sci-fi. She is currently unsuccessfully petitioning George R.R. Martin to add House Moss as a contender for the Iron Throne. Her house words? “Sales and Skywalkers”