Salespeople & Strategy are like Cooks & Recipes

Understanding the different roles involved with sales is a lot like understanding how to operate a kitchen in a restaurant. This can be a useful way to look at sales teams when trying to understand what is, and is not, working. If things are going awry with your sales results, one of the first places to look is at your cooks and their recipes. In our series on how salespeople are like cooks, we are going to explore that analogy along with the analogy of how your sales strategy is like your recipe.
A cook is in charge of knowing what the diners (customers) want and putting it all together with the right ingredients and recipe. Just as there are a lot of different kinds of cooks, there are also many different kinds of salespeople. You have fast-food cooks that operate like your low ticket B2C salesperson. You take the order from a limited menu off the screen, heat up the preassembled ingredients, and serve it to the customer. There’s not a lot of room for error and not a lot of need to explore this analogy. You also have the mid-level cooks which can be found in both the B2C and B2B world. These salespeople sell low to mid-level ticket products and services from a bigger menu, but a menu that doesn’t change that often nonetheless. There needs to be some level of skill and responsiveness to be a short-order cook/ salesperson, but repetition is usually the driving factor for success. Salespeople who sell small power equipment, common technical internet services, venue spaces, cleaning, painting, and other similar services sell like short-order cooks. Once you have mastered that skill over a year or two, success in that field becomes rather easy.
Now we move up the chain a bit to boutique restaurants. The ingredients are fresher, the expectations are higher and the menu can change from week to week or month to month. This requires a new level of skill and versatility and the ability to create some new dishes occasionally. Salespeople at this level tend to operate in sectors such as real estate, job shop & OEM manufacturing, or large scale remodelers are a good reflection of this type of cook. The average sales ticket is larger and the sales cycle is longer and a lot more room for customization. It takes longer for this level of a salesperson to learn the industry because the opportunities don’t come along in rapid succession and there are very few orders that are identical. It involves a higher understanding of learning a customer’s needs while being able to educate them to the right solution for them.
At the top of the chain we find the master chefs in the high-end restaurants that have a 2 hour wait period just to get a seat. This is the kind of cook we all would like to think we are or would hope to be, but few are chosen. These cooks have mastered their craft and know what a customer wants before she asks for it. People will go out of their way to eat their food based on their reputation and constantly refer others to indulge as well. These cooks do not advertise and have a real passion for what they create. These types of salespeople can have additional duties as well; most common that of a designer. And isn’t that interesting because that is what we as salespeople should be doing; designing the perfect fit for our clients and not just making the presentation and closing the deal? These can be architects, high-end custom cars, or prime real estate development. Like the master chef, they carve out their own section in the marketplace and own it.
How one becomes the master salesperson is much the same as how someone becomes a master chef. You find something rare and you work at it for a long time and make it valuable. The process is easy but the work is hard. So, what kind of cook are you and what kind of cook do you want to be?
No one can become a successful cook if they don’t have good recipes to use. Just as a salesperson can’t get good results without a successful sales strategy. You can have a good cook with all the right ingredients, but if you don’t know how to put it together, the meal won’t taste good and the sales will not come. Most struggling sales teams can be understood in this manner. If you are not getting the results you want, you must first ask if you have the right cooks and the right recipe. If you have a great sales strategy but you are not getting the results, then you have the wrong cooks. You can’t expect a short-order cook to start preparing fresh fish right away, even if you give him the right recipe. Perhaps you have some great cooks, but you gave them a terrible recipe. How would you expect your salespeople to close deals if you sent them with the wrong sales process or, worse yet, no sales process at all?
Do you have a great set of cooks using great recipes with customers lining up outside your door? If not, ask yourself if you really have the right people out there representing your company. They may be nice and well-meaning, but if they can’t cook then they have to get out of the kitchen. But, if you know they are good cooks based on their past experience, then chances are that you gave them a bad recipe. Even if you have a sales strategy that was once successful, perhaps it is no longer relevant and it is time to update it. No matter which situation you face, use this analogy the next time you are trying to understanding a deficiency in your sales.
Scorecard Sales has a great recipe for sales – the One Page Sales Plan. It’s easy to follow and sure to please using ingredients you probably already have. Should you need sales training, we can help with that, too. Contact Aaron Jacobs to get cooking.

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