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4 Key Steps to Take to Build Your Business

When it comes to selling your food and services there's no one better suited for the job than you. You have a growing wealth of knowledge in your field and it's your job to bring it all together in one offering to get more business. Here are the 4 steps you need for success.

Discovery
Listen
Interpret/Suggest
Follow/Direct


DISCOVERY
In your discovery process you're basically getting to the heart of your clients' needs. It's all about asking the right questions to get the right answers, learning your clients and harvesting the foundational materials necessary to build the best informed professional relationship you can offer. Ask as many questions as needed to get crystal clear on where they're coming from, where they want to go and how you're going to get them there. Without effectively going through this process you are totally lost when it comes to getting an understanding of who your client is and how to grow your relationship with them.

Keep this in mind while going through your discovery process. You want to answer these questions for yourself:

Who is this client?
What do they want?
What do they need?
How can I get them both want and need?
How can I add the most value and make myself indispensable?

Answer those key questions and you should have a client for life.

LISTEN
The most important thing you could ever start with to increase your business is LISTENing to your client and prospective clients. In your discovery process you can learn their likes/dislikes, organic aversions [allergies] and all the reasoning behind them. This is all valuable information, that if taken to heart, can preserve and cause your business to flourish. Make sure you're not only listening for what they're saying, but more importantly... what they're not. You may be able to pick that up in their inflection, body language, inferences, etc., so stay alert and don't miss a thing. You may also want to incorporate taping the session and reviewing it to make sure you've got everything down for reference at the drop of a dime, if need be, later.

INTERPRET/SUGGEST
Here's where it can get interesting. You have to take all the information that you've gathered together and translate/interpret it and respond with your expert recommendations. You may find that your client says they love the flavor of shrimp creole, but can't stand the look or chew of shrimp. That sounds like a visual/textural challenge. What's the translation? How about a nice shrimp bisque as an alternative. You'll provide the flavor without the look or chew of the creole.

How about a client who loves lemonade, but is allergic to lemons? Find out if it's the whole lemon or part of the lemon. I knew a lady who was just allergic to the oil from the lemon peel but the juice was just fine. Does their allergy incorporate anything else or would lemongrass and lime work as a drink? If they can take those last two without a problem create a lemongrass/limeade and call it a day.

You have a client who grew up on meat loaf. They love the stuff, but their doctor has restricted it from their diet due to health issues. Try offering them meatloaves composed of salmon, mushrooms, tofu or lentils, etc. as alternatives.

FOLLOW/DIRECT
When I was growing up I had a serious aversion to cherries. My grandparents had a tree and I had one too many. Needless to say I couldn't stand them; until my wife came along. She never tried to get me to eat cherries, but instead she watched my habits, learned my likes, made suggestions that panned out and followed my process. After all of that, she began to direct. My trust in her ability to know what I would like was solid, because she was batting 1000, so when it came to her making suggestions, I was more than open to them. I figured that she was a 'me' pro by that time and would know what I would like, even if it didn't sound like something I thought I would ever consume. She had my ear, much like you will have your clients' ears, if you build your credibility through well informed, on target suggestions. The more, better quality and consistent your recommendations are the more leeway you'll be given to follow/direct.

Keep in mind that you're the expert in your field. Chances are that as their trust in you grows the more your follow will turn into direct.

Because flavors, textures, colors, aromas and appearance all play vital roles in the acceptance or rejection of food, not to mention allergens, belief systems, folklore and the like, you'll have to gain and use your knowledge on how to overcome the obstacles you'll most assuredly face. It's all possible starting with the four areas you need to focus on:

Discovery
Listening
Interpreting/Suggesting
Following/Directing


As always, it's been my great pleasure sharing these business elements with you. Until next time...

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