There is a traditional notion within the sales community that a sales team should focus on their company’s best customers. For us at Qualifirst, this creates a paradox. Our best customers are already in the habit of ordering from us and consequently the best time for us to talk sales with them is usually when they contact us. Concentrating our sales effort on this group is much more complex than simply contacting them when it is time to place an order.
Instead, our sales strategy is to redefine marketing. To us, marketing is not flyers and advertising. Marketing is the support we give our sales team so that when they contact our customers, they don’t simply ask for an order, they reinforce and strengthen the Qualifirst Habit.
Qualifirst Foods is all about repeat sales, and repeat sales are all about habit. When we drill down on this topic, all of our sales activities should be focused on habits. Habits, from a psychological perspective represent activities that are repeated, ostensibly without thinking, and generally based on positive reward.
The clearest example of this would be finding a $50 bill on the street. If a person finds a $50 bill by chance one day, he or she would likely say, â€œHey it’s my lucky day.â€ If, the next time the person walked the same street, another $50 bill appeared in exactly the same place, the thought would be â€œI’m on to something good here.â€ Positive reward is taking effect. If the person discovers another $50 bill on the next trip past the same location, the habit will be formed and the individual will likely change routine in order to walk past that location regularly. The person will continue to do so long after the $50 bills stop appearing. The habit has been formed. It has traversed from a thinking action to a non-thinking action.
In business, habits are formed through the same type of positive reward. A good experience with a retailer will make a customer return. This is the essence of brand loyalty: a consumer feels good about buying a product due to a positive shopping experience, an enjoyment of the product, a sense of belonging to a particular group, a sense of comfort and convenience, or a combination of these. Repeat buying soon turns into an action that requires little or no thought.
The Qualifirst Habit:
Repeat business in the retail or food service/hospitality markets operates the same way. Certainly price does factor in, but a significant amount of the purchase decision will be based on comfort, good feeling, confidence and a positive prior experience. This requires that â€œsales and marketingâ€ be broken down into three habit-based objectives:
- Maintain and reinforce positive habits: How do we ensure our customers continue to buy from us and how do we make sure that stay happy about it? It is not done by contacting them when it’s time to place an order. It is achieved by giving them that perfect level of service that makes our customers want to work with us and keep on buying regularly.
- Detect a change of habit: Has something happened that could affect how a customer buys from us or what they are buying? Are we in danger of losing them? What negative experience may have broken the spell? Or is the customer being attracted by a â€œbetterâ€ positive experience offered by a competitor? Do we have new business opportunities? This is where our sales team steps in. We need to stay connected enough to our customers to know, for example, when a purchaser has changed, when a new menu is being planned, or when a store is renovating. We have to know this so that we can adjust our positive experience triggers accordingly. This is also when sales analysis techniques come in, to alert us as soon as a customer has stopped buying a product.
- Create a new habit: What new products could the customer purchase? What new business could we develop with a customer? What new positive experiences could we send to the customer? This includes direct positive experiences such as a new food ingredient or a favourable price point, or it could be an indirect positive experience such as a 15% increase in restaurant reservations based on an improved menu.
Sales at Qualifirst is about creating and reinforcing habits in our customers. The role of marketing should be to give our sales team as much useful information as possible so we can focus on keeping customers that may be at risk while developing as much new business as possible.