How Food Inspires My Sales Game

And How It Can Deliciously Transform Your Sales Process

When it comes to improving your sales game, there’s no shortage of anecdotes and expert advice out there. But it can be challenging to assimilate every suggestion or remember every rebuttal, especially for business development reps who may be newer to sales. To overcome these sales training and learning obstacles, managers and business leaders will often look to more real-life analogies to help bridge gaps in understanding and application best practices.

Some of the best sales leadership I encountered in my 20 years of pounding pavement came from managers who made the sales process relatable in a memorable way. And some of the greatest gurus will always find a way to take complex concepts and present them in tangible and digestible suggestions. What you might find amusing is how I infused my own sales language and understanding with the use of food analogies. Being a foodie with a deep appreciation for all things baked, fried, sautéed, simmered, nuked, or seared, I discovered early on how food could inspire my sales game.

Here are some food analogies you may find helpful to inspire your sales training initiatives or to improve your techniques as well. Feel free to grab a snack, too – enjoy!

Meat and Potatoes

When sales representatives and BDRs start building client relationships, they often use small talk, general business topics, and pleasantries. But sometimes, target customers are pressed for time and very busy. Training should include ways for teams to get to the “meat and potatoes” of the conversation when they recognize the shooting the breeze approach doesn’t make sense. By meat and potatoes, of course, we mean the substance of the offer, the reason for the call, or the call to action being asked.

Meat and potatoes can also be a great food analogy for building an impactful client proposal, too. It’s recommended that reps not fluff or pad a presentation or proposal with unnecessary or well-known details that don’t support the ultimate call to action. Focus on the meat and potatoes, with every other aspect of the proposal providing credibility, support, or solving key problems.

The Whole Enchilada

One of the most significant challenges you might face with your sales teams is confidence. It’s not uncommon for new reps to feel uncertain with their footing and forget to find ways to take control of conversations for more favorable outcomes. As a result, sales professionals will sometimes only ask for part of the sale or offer a solution to one problem instead of addressing the big picture objective or the entire sale. In these cases, remind them to go for the whole enchilada!

In coaching a whole enchilada approach to sales, reps will remember to not get lost in the minutia of the discovery call or blurred lines a client might offer. In the end, the goal is to solve the big-picture problem with a broad-stroked value proposition and solution. Remember, the big win is going after the whole enchilada and not being hesitant to ask for it.

Nuggets of Information

Who doesn’t love a good nugget? In sales terms and in my foodie-loving mind, providing nuggets of information can refer to supporting elements of a presentation or proposal. They can also be statements or metrics that lend credibility to your intended solution. When a salesperson offers nuggets of information, there should be a strong element of value either in the deliverable to the client or in positioning the salesperson as an authority in the space.

Have Your Cake

Mr. Customer, you’re going to spend this dollar amount on XYZ anyway. You might as well invest it in the wisest solution providing the most ROI. In other words, Mr. Customer, you’re going to pay for the cake; you might as well eat it, too. This is a great analogy when it’s time to overcome price point objections with a client. By not taking any action, there will be a negative outcome. By taking the wrong or least effective action, they’re essentially paying for the cake. Your job as a top-notch salesperson is to show them how your solution will uniquely allow them to maximize their investment decision. When they realize it’s best to eat their cake too, you can reap the just desserts rewards, too.

Apples and Oranges

In any sales conversation, a salesperson needs to recognize when there is an uneven playing field. As a sales leader, you can express the importance of identifying apples to oranges comparisons. When competitors try to position themselves ahead of your core offering, coach your teams to redirect by focusing on the unique differentiator your company provides that no one else can. Your price and the competitor’s price reflect different solutions. The apples-to-apples versus apples-to-oranges technique involves a top-notch sales assassin who can quickly separate the value propositions of both and sell your solution as the best of both worlds.

Slice of the Pie

Some sales pitches can’t bring in the whole enchilada. And depending on the services or products your company offers, getting your slice of the pie is just as big of a win. Some clients will engage multiple vendors for certain projects, meaning there’s no point in trying to pitch them on a single solution they won’t agree to adopt. Company policies, in some industries, mandate that businesses use multiple solution providers for key outsourced services. Instead of wasting resources to go after more than is possible, effective sales strategies should target the value proposition for your target slice of the pie in a relevant way. Now, how big your slice actually becomes is entirely reliant upon your sales teams’ ability to demonstrate that undeniable value.

Humble Pie

Part of every sales training initiative should be a chapter on rejection, correction, and how to take a no. This is where the humble pie comes into play. Even your strongest sales members will trip up sometimes. But the key essentially lies in knowing how to rebound, when to admit you’re wrong, and when to walk away. Not every sales pitch will be a home run. And reps who waste hours of time chasing the wrong prospect or the perpetual no will spend less time targeting those potential clients who are more likely to say yes.

In a Pickle

Successful sales coaches know training doesn’t end in the meeting room or with the last page of the sales binder. Reps will take what they’ve learned and rush to the field to apply the new knowledge. But there will still be questions and issues that arise later that might warrant a little additional coaching. That’s why every sales training initiative should include clear steps on how to ask for help when going gets tough. When the reps and BDRs are in a pickle, they need to know where to go for support and reassurance for continued growth and performance.

Eggs in One Basket

Let’s talk about the sales funnel. Do you have sales members who share their weekly funnels, promising to close that one big fish? And yet, weeks go by with no traction or progression on that one big fish. Your rep is excited, enthusiastic even, chomping at the bit that this one massive, game-changing client is going to be a monster success. If this scenario is all too familiar among your teams, they could use a good old-fashioned, don’t put all your prospect eggs in one basket, talk. Reminding your salesforce that wishful thinking won’t close deals and that it’s about keeping those funnels full of meat and potato clients instead of big fish will help refocus their efforts on more productive funnel activities.

The Secret Sauce

Do you know what your company’s secret sauce is? Do you know how to sell that secret sauce? If you know, but your sales teams can’t answer the question with complete certainty, it’s time to revisit your company value and core offering. The secret sauce isn’t about better pricing or faster delivery times for service. The secret sauce is the one element or aspect of your solution that no one else can touch. It might be part of your company’s mission statement or vision statement. Maybe it’s proprietary products or services that allow you to be in a whole new segment, separate from your competitors. The point is that your sales teams need to not only know what your secret sauce is and how to sell it.

Proof in the Pudding

Sometimes, and I know because I’ve been guilty myself, salespeople get really busy without producing results. They might get a little lazy and keep the funnel full. But they’re not executing properly or as they should, resulting in a whole lot of talk and not much moving the needle. The sales proof is always in the pudding, meaning your best salespeople aren’t those who flurry the most with activity or boast the largest personalities. Your best sales ninjas are those who deliver every month. The numbers will tell the story and guide you to which members might need another round of sales coaching or training.

Improving Your Sales Cookbook

When you think about it, you’re not putting together a sales playbook; you’re assembling a sales cookbook, complete with the ingredients and recipes for success. Take another look at your current sales coaching strategies and processes to see if you’re listing out all the very best ingredients or tools needed to be a top performer. Does your training manual provide step-by-step instructions for how to assemble and prepare the recipe? Some ingredients you don’t mix together at once. There are often different steps for cooking or baking for best results, too. If your teams don’t have the roadmap, they’ll burn their pies every time. Make sure your company cookbook provides everything a salesperson will need to prospect, nurture, present, and close clients.

Food as a Literal Sales Solution

These food analogies are great for bringing complex concepts into a more widely understood context. But let’s not forget the important role food can play in sales, literally. For those field sales reps who manage physical territories with in-person meetings, food is a must-use tool in the sales arsenal. Here are just a few effective yet sometimes corny ways food can close deals.

Gatekeeper’s Candy Jar: Bring the gatekeeper a candy jar full of his or her favorite treats. Each subsequent visit, you can bring refills and build the relationship with the front desk that will lead to more favorable conditions to meet the decision-makers.

Pizzas for Lunch: Pharma reps will often show up to doctors’ offices with lunch for the whole staff. While the medical professionals, including the doctors they want to talk with specifically, are gathered to enjoy a free meal, the reps then take the opportunity to casually discuss their products or services to the captive audience.

Refreshments on a Hot Day: If your target prospect is out on a job site or similar outdoor environment, don’t go empty-handed. Bring coolers of bottled water or Gatorade to offer workers and demonstrate your understanding and appreciation for the work your client does.

Closing Deals Over Dinner: Of course, if you’re able to treat your client to a meal, think upscale and high-end, but within their meal preferences or restrictions. You can always look to close a deal over a great dinner.

Whether you incorporate food literally or figuratively, the goal is to improve sales efforts and maximize engagement impact. What food analogies do you find yourself using often? Can you apply some of these to your current sales training platforms? Not every style will work for every sales rep or BDR. But there’s a better chance you’ll connect with them on an unforgettable level if you can translate techniques and strategies into fun, food-related contexts.

If you need help translating your company’s secret sauce into incredibly engaging content, don’t forget you can always call on us to help. From web content and e-books to traditional blogs and sales collateral, our writers are ready to help!


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