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My definition of a larger vending account would be 300 employees or more. One way to get the larger accounts is to pick them up when they’re smaller and to grow with them. The accounts that are already that size will almost always have services in place. Your job will be to dislodge the existing company from the strong hold they may have.
Getting Beyond The Receptionist
Different sales people have different ways of picking up new accounts. I have my own method, which is like most other vending company salespeople with my own little twist. You will first need to get in the door to speak with the decision maker. Most decision makers of your larger size accounts will not speak with you if you just show up at their door. So the question is how do you get beyond the receptionist.
Most sales people will start by buying a list of the manufacturers in the counties that surround their warehouse. This type of a list will usually cost less than $1.00 per lead. I’m a true believer in these lists because it eliminates the hunting and searching for qualified accounts.
The information that you can expect to receive on this type of a lead is.
Area Of Distribution
A good place to find this type of information is at Manufacturers News
The Initial Sales Call
Your initial vending sales call will in most cases get you no further than the receptionist desk. It is always a good idea to make friends with the receptionist as in many cases they have more influence than most of us realize. What has worked well for me on the first call is to have a sack full of samples. The samples usually end up being passed out to the office personnel. This always makes people in the office a little more receptive to you.
Let them know you are just out introducing your self and your company to area businesses. Ask if you can leave some samples and literature about your company.
The receptionist will accept your product and literature and make sure it gets to the right person for you. In extremely rare cases the receptionist may tell you they can’t accept the samples. In this case ask if you can leave your literature for the person in charge of their vending to look at. I personally have only had one company receptionist refuse to take either the samples or information.
Assuming they take the samples and information, tell them you usually follow up with a phone call in a couple of weeks. Ask them who you will need to talk with when you do call.
Keeping things low key is always advisable at this point in time. Make sure you make a note of when the samples were dropped off. I will usually call between one and two weeks after I have dropped off the information and samples.
The Dreaded Answering Machine
After a couple of weeks have passed give the prospect a follow up phone call. The early to mid afternoon seems to be the most productive time to make your phone calls. It seems you will get the answering machine more in the morning. If I receive the answering machine I’ll leave my name and the name of the company I represent. A good thing to add is that you dropped off some samples and trust that they received them and your company information. You need to keep in mind a lot of people you will be dealing with will hide behind the answering machine so go ahead and leave a pleasant message.
One of the best ways to leave a pleasant message is to put a smile on your face as the phone starts to ring. It’s a proven fact that your smile will go through a phone line. It is harder for a Human Resources manager to dislike a positive energetic voice on the other end of the line.
Before giving your prospect a sales pitch it is always best to build a relationship with them. Try to take them out for a noon meal. If you can get them away from the office it will be a lot easier for them to let their guard down. Once that guard has dropped they will be much more likely to tell you the information you will need to close the deal. You’ll be able to find out the things they want but are not receiving from their present vendor.
The things you find out you will want to incorporate into your presentation. In the corporate world it’s not likely one person will make the final decision. By building that relationship with your client and incorporating what they want into your presentation you are making it easy for them to sell you to the others that will help them make the final decision.
The vending business is all about relationships. Getting to know the client beyond the corporate world is a vital part of you being successful. If there is one thing in this business that makes or breaks the vendor it’s the relationship you have with your clients.
The Presentation History
Getting ready for the presentation is something you have been building information for a few weeks to a few months. It’s time to start putting it all together for your written proposal. I’m going to give you some ideas of the things that will normally go into your proposals content. The opening page should give a brief history of your company and the accomplishments you are most proud of. A contact number and email is also a good item to include for more information. The second page may show territory your company covers.
Something you might want to go into a little more in depth would be your company history. You can list different milestone with dates of when they were accomplished.
Make sure you have enough written proposals to give one to each person attending the meeting.
Now is the time you will start using the information that you have gathered. You will hit the services hard that your contact has told you they would most like to see in a vending company. In most cases they are looking for clean machines. Think about it, nobody wants to buy from a dirty machine. The second thing most venders will want to talk about is that they will keep their machines filled. The third item is your plan on making sure the machine will be kept in good working order.
Give them a brief run down of the types of machines you plan on putting into their location. Don’t go into too many specifics on the equipment you plan on bringing in, such as brand names or models. What they will be looking for is that they will have a snack machine, cold food machine and any other type machine you are planning on bringing in.
Talk about your service. If your drivers are in uniform let them know this. If you are planning on being in their location first thing in the morning let them know. Are you planning on giving seven day service, let them know. Anything your contact has complained about in the service line now is your time to address it.
The Most Important Part Of Your Presentation
Your cold food program is the thing that will make or break your presentation. A good portion of the larger vending companies will have companies that produce their product with their private label on it. Don’t let this hold you back. If you don’t have your own private label tell them you have stayed with the brand names that people who eat from vending machines have loved and trusted for years. These are the people who have been able to grow because of the trust the customer has in them.
You will want to bring along approximately 40 to 45 cold food items to leave behind for them to sample. There are a few companies that will not allow their employees to take samples such as Wal-Mart. You will still want to bring the samples the only difference is that you will take them with you when you leave.
Cold food is the item that people most like to complain about or make fun of. This is also the one item you sell that they will believe can set you apart from your competition. Get this part of your presentation right and you will have a new account to line your pockets with money.
50% Of Your Sales Assuming that you nailed your cold food program it is time to move onto the final stages of your presentation. Every account knows that you are going to sell soda. You will want to tell them about your cold drink program. Milk, juice, tea and energy drinks are the items that they will want to hear about. You will want to give them a glass front cold drink machine and let them know you will be keeping the healthy items in it that most employers want to see their employees drinking.
Keep in mind cold drinks will make up 50% of your sales so this is an area you will not want to skimp on. Your beverage machines will be the biggest source of income, take good care of this area and you will be successful.
Set Yourself Apart
Not too many vendors use the dollar coin and this is a good place to set yourself apart from your competition. Tell them your bill changers will pass back dollar coin and all of your equipment will accept the dollar coin. The advantages of the dollar coin are that when their employees go to get change for a larger denomination of bill they will receive 1/4th the amount of dollar coins versus quarters.
If your company is using some type of new technology let your prospective customer know. One thing you will want to talk about is a bill acceptor that takes credit or debit cards. Another item may be your companies inventory/route soft ware program.
It will be important to your vending customer to know that when they call with a problem that you have someone on call 24/7 to take care of any problems they may have. Make sure they know that meeting and exceeding their employee expectations on reliable equipment is something that is very important to your company. Explain your refund program at this time. All larger accounts know there will be some problems and you are prepared to take care of them.
If your bill acceptors are capable of taking coupons it is a good idea for you to purchase coupons. Explain to your prospective customer that the coupons can be used as a reward when you see an employee doing something positive for the company. They can also be used to pass out to a group or dept that has been able to meet a company deadline or for being on time or not missing work for a specified amount of time.
Another program that is becoming more and more popular with larger companies is a healthy food program. The healthy food program can be viewed as a positive for both the employer and the employee.
Pricing And Commissions
It will be advisable to have a quick run down of what your company plans on charging for the different categories of product. In your earlier conversations you should have found out what type of a commission the account will be expecting and now is the time to include it in your presentation. Summarize Your Proposal And Ask To Be Their Vendor You have explained your proposal and asked for the sale. Now you will need to give them some time to discuss the pros and cons of the two companies. Be patient, Rome wasn’t built in a day, and you have set the stage for a possible change in a few weeks or maybe a change in a year or two.