How to Become a Sales Superstar

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If you could ask one question of an event sales superstar, what would it be?


During the 2014 Catersource and Event Solutions Conference & Tradeshow, I had the rare opportunity to ask several burning questions of the top sales executives in their respective markets: Ronnie Davis of Great Performances, New York, NY and Joel Wolke of Occasions Caterers, Washington, DC.

Here are some of the best (and most applauded) answers they shared during the session.

On sales fundamentals

“Learn to shut up and listen to the client. The client is telling you what they want. You have to assure them that you will do what they’re asking you to do. That’s it, cut and dry, no tricks. If you think about the sales you’ve lost, you’ve probably gotten in your own way.” ~Davis

“If they’ve been with another company or are new to your company, you need to learn how that company works. Understand the high points and the low points of the organization. Ask a lot of questions. Be sure you go to your client with a lot of information.” ~Wolke

On culinary excellence

“Over the years I’ve developed a very good relationship with the meat guys, the bread guys, the fish guys, all the people who are central to our trade. You’re only as good as the last meal you put in front of somebody, so work on your relationships with vendors. They are your partners and they want you to be successful.” ~Davis

On figuring out the client’s budget

“Start by asking, ‘How did you hear about us? What brought you to our services?’ That gives you a frame of reference. Ask ‘Where do you vacation? What’s your favorite restaurant? If you could have 150 people in your backyard and cook for them, what would you serve?’ Never ask what their budget is — but by asking other questions, you can ascertain what their budget is going to be.” ~Davis

On perseverance

“We talk to clients, take a tremendous amount of time to develop a menu, talk to them again, sometimes we have them in for a tasting, and then we might hear nothing. In that case I will usually try three times and then take the event off the books.” ~Wolke

“You can’t take rejection well and also succeed in this business. From 1980 to 1985, I called one potential client on a daily basis for about five years. Finally, she gave me a chance, and I kept that account for 14 years. But after I’ve sent them the proposal, I won’t reach out again. I’m here to make you happy. If I can’t do that, then I’m not going to beg.” ~Davis

On getting to the next level in sales

“What have you done to be successful so far? Think about what you do and what you don’t do. Think of something that will set you apart from your competitors and start presenting those ideas. Something different to offer your clients than what you’ve been offering them all along.” ~Wolke


eNews September 2014

About the author : Meryl Snow

Meryl Snow

Meryl Snow has emerged as a true leader of the special events & catering industry. As co-founder of Feastivities Events, Meryl has spent the last 26 years creating events throughout the Philadelphia region featuring creative and well-executed menus, dramatic presentations, outstanding service and extreme attention to detail.

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