Alright, you may have turned to personal cheffing to follow your love of the kitchen or to escape corporate America. Iím here to tell you that perfecting your selling skills will be far more beneficial to a successful personal chef business than purchasing the newest cookbook or attending the latest cooking class. As personal chefs, we are first and foremost salespeople; for without customers we would still be cooking in our own kitchen for our friends and family.
This series of articles on selling will highlight some of the basic skills that if applied, will make you a better salesperson. The basics never change!
Prospecting: there is a direct correlation between the number of calls made, the number of appointments made, and the number of sales. Think of it as a funnel; the top is wide to represent many calls made and the number of sales is the smaller amount coming through the bottom of the funnel. If you stop making calls the funnel will go dry.
Past Customers: It is often easier to win back past customers than it is to find new ones. After all these people already understand and appreciate the service you offer. There are many reasons why customers stop doing business with you. They may have moved from the area, they may have had a one-time need for your service, or they may have found another source to fill their needs. Try to find out why a customer left you. Contact past customers and ask them: What made them buy from you in the first place? Who are they buying from now? What could you do to get them back?
List a few former customers that you have not seen or spoken to in awhile. Set a date to follow up with them.
Current (and satisfied) customers: Customers currently doing business with you are the most important group to research. They are likely to buy from you again and can be and can be an excellent source for referrals. There is no one better to call on to ask for referrals, testimonials or more business than current and satisfied customers. They already know your product and you know about them.
A careful analysis of current customers can be useful to build a profile of the ideal prospect. Current customers are a good source for referrals but do not abuse this privilege. Customers will respect your approach when they understand that you are trying to expand a market and could use their advice.
Make a list of two or three current customers to call and ask for a referral. Be sure to ask their permission to use their name.
Sources: Make a list of potential places to find prospects then review and refresh it often. Some possible sources for prospects include: referrals from customers, networking events such as the Chamber of Commerce, newspaper articles (ie bridal listings, upcoming events, etc), professional relationships (ie a nutritionist, physician, health club, etc that you have working relationships with).
It is said that the main reason that businesses fail is that salespeople donít spend enough time and resources prospecting for new business. The minimum amount of time recommended is 20% or one day per week. While this level of marketing might not be possible for a personal chef, it is important to continually be prospecting, especially during those times when your schedule is full and youíre busy. Keep the funnel full!