Last Friday night my wife and I went out to our local Italian restaurant. As we sat perusing the menu I was struck, not only by the fine cuisine on offer, but also by the number of different sales techniques that I could see being put into practice.
In particular, I realised that many of these techniques have some relevance in B2B sales, despite being used in an entirely different sector and aimed at a very different audience.
Menus are crucial selling tools for restaurants and help influence the customer’s buying choice, guiding them to specific dishes which the restaurant wants them to buy – much like a good salesman would.
And like a great B2B sales pitch or brochure, they reflect their knowledge of their customers’ tastes, show a deep understanding of their product and feature excellent design that not only looks great, but purposefully draws the eye to key selling points.
Here are a few specific comparisons I made:
They Don’t List Prices
Most modern menus hide their price by not using a currency sign and discreetly putting the price within the dish description. This puts the focus on the description and, therefore, the quality of the meal, rather than its cost.
While this isn’t directly applicable – the idea of including prices in B2B sales brochures seems laughable – the concept of focusing on the product or service itself rather than the cost has long been a hallmark of B2B sales.
Successful Menus Limit Choice
A long and busy menu takes time to read, makes decision-making harder and leads to buyer regret as diners think about what they could have had.
A good salesperson is there to help their customer by ensuring that the buying decision- making process is as quick and satisfying as possible. Simplifying the number of options available to them is an important first step in achieving this.
They Up-sell and Cross-sell
Up-selling is common in menus for chain restaurants that focus on driving increased revenue. Their flashy menus are often adorned with offers that seem great value: ‘Add an extra topping for just 50p’ or ‘add an extra scoop of ice cream for £1.00’.
Cross-selling is, though, less common in menus – for example, some restaurants may recommend a wine that complements a dish.
Both of these techniques are a staple for B2B sales teams who should always be looking for ways to expand the suite of products or range of services that they provide for their customers. A key difference here is that while a menu choice is instantaneous, many B2B buying decisions are longer term and related to factors like relationship building and so customers may need time before they are willing to expand upon their purchase.
Placement is Key
Successful restaurants have an in-depth understanding of the profitability and popularity ratio of their dishes and will design their menus accordingly.
For example, many menus will put the most expensive dish first, followed by cheaper ones to make customers think that they are getting a good deal, when in actual fact, those meals are probably low cost to make and lucrative for the restaurant’s bottom line.
Restaurants will also highlight these more profitable meals by, for example, putting them in coloured boxes.
What Can B2B Sales Learn from Menus?
One thing which struck me overall about the menu was the extent to which it guides the customer towards making a predetermined decision.
When ordering, most people will be unaware that they have been subtly nudged towards a specific dish – but could it be that this subliminal support in making a decision actually improves customer satisfaction?
I think so, and believe that there is a lesson here for salespeople. B2B pitches traditionally involve the salesperson talking at the buyer, convincing them that their product is the best thing for their company.
However, research published by the University of Memphis found that there is a major disconnect in the way buyers and sellers view knowledge in a sales presentation.
While sellers thought product knowledge would make their sales pitch more effective, buyers wanted sellers to talk about how the product would help their company. Essentially, they want sellers to produce ‘adaptive’ presentations that respond to their exact needs, rather than give general presentations on the benefits of the product.
Sales teams need, therefore, to first anticipate their customers’ questions and concerns before using this information to subtly guide them towards a profitable solution.
This obviously involves research and salespeople need to first find out as much information as possible about the buyer and their needs.
At Red Flag Alert, we specifically try to find out why a lead is interested in our service as well as the problem they are hoping our product will solve. This information can be found through lead generation forms or simply by contact with the lead before the pitch.
Once we have this information, we gain further intelligence by looking at our data to find out information about their company that could help with the sales process.
For example, we could use knowledge about the number of employees at a company to offer specific advice about how Red Flag Alert data can help a business of that buyer’s size. Alternatively, knowledge of the company’s financial situation could help us offer a solution at an appropriate pricing level.
This kind of research should set you up with an initial understanding of your customer’s needs, allowing you to give a presentation that is empathetic, credible and offers a win-win outcome for both parties.
Back at the restaurant and the waiter has arrived at our table. “I’ll have the Salmon Piccata please,” I say, pointing to the large boxed-out description at the top of the page. The waiter smiles knowingly: “Of course sir…”
For a free consultation about how Red Flag Alert can help improve your sales presentations, as well as your sales efficiency in general, get in touch with Richard West at firstname.lastname@example.org or 0344 412 6699.