What’s the difference between selling and order taking?

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In this Vlog, Grant explains how to overcome the problem of encountering customers who believe they know what they want to order, long before you walk in the door.

A man walks into a restaurant and, having looked at the menu, the waiter comes over to him and says; What would you like? He says; I’ll have the vegetable soup to start and the steak and chips for the main course. The waiter walks away, says; very good sir.

Let me give you a second scenario. This time the man looks at the menu and again he orders the vegetable soup and steak and chips. But this time the waiter says; It’s a very good choice sir, but I must tell you that chef has a wonderful piece of lamb in the kitchen that I saw earlier, you might want to consider that. And the guy says; Actually yes, I won’t have the steak and chips, I’ll have the lamb.

In the first scenario, the waiter was merely an order taker. In the second scenario, the waiter made a sale, because he changed the person’s criteria of purchase.

[In style of old black and white movie] Influencing the criteria of purchase, many years ago, was relatively simple. Sales people were told to sell the benefits and not the features, and simply describing the advantages of a product would influence somebody’s criteria of purchase who was fairly ignorant about what was on offer. As we developed into a service economy, consultancy selling emerged.
The reason being is that services are intangible. By questioning a customer and understanding their real requirements, you could mould your services to suit that customer exactly and, therefore, make the sale. Today, with so much access to knowledge, people are undertaking most of the purchase journey on their own online and, therefore, when a sales person just tries to explain the benefits of their product or service, or ask a load of questions around someone’s challenges, they’re actually offering no value whatsoever.

Increasingly, sales people are walking into customers who already have their criteria of purchase and, therefore, those sales people are just becoming like waiter number one – showing that they can tick all the boxes. In that scenario, the person who ‘drops their trousers’ is the one who gets the deal because price becomes the only differentiator. So how do you change your customer’s criteria of purchase, when it’s already fixed?

The only way to do it is to provide insight. For example, as an expert in your field, are there any statistics, pieces of legislation or trends, that may alter someone’s view of a situation? Sales people always did influence the customer’s criteria of purchase by giving them information of which they were unaware. But today when we’re dealing with such knowledgeable customers, the bar has been raised. Now you need to give them real and proper insights in order to achieve them. Or, you’re still struggling to sell, just offer them a piece of lamb!

There may be small changes to the spoken word in this transcript in order to facilitate the readability of the written English

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  1. Great metaphore and good advice Grant! Taking an interest in and showing you care about the client, stakeholder, user, patron is key to building trust and success. I always strike up conversations or add humor with restaurant staff so that they know I see them as human beings. As a result, they take an interest in me and the service is better.

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