As the country moves toward reopening the economy, summer events are expected to gradually pickup. Even though we are likely months away from returning to normal, now is actually the perfect time to work on improving your business. One opportunity is to improve your pitch for lucrative catering clients.

Most years the start of summer means a busy food truck schedule. That means produce lots of outdoor festivals and celebrations. If your schedule is anything like mine most years, it’s jam-packed (pun intended) with events, shows, store demos – you name it, I’m doing it.

Now is a great time to reach out and speaks with fellow food truck owners, customers, event planners, retailers, distributors, area business people, etc. Even if you are only able to make it happen on Google Hangouts or Facetime, it’s better than nothing. At this point everyone knows how to use Zoom, which is another option for remote meetings.

What I’ve learned over the years is you must be ready to sell at a moment’s notice. To help me think through what makes a good sales person (you are the best, you know!), I wrote down a few tips I’ve come across over the past few years.

Built by M&R Specialty Trailers and Trucks.

8 Tips to Improve Your Personal Selling

1. Be Natural

Don’t sound salesy. Be relaxed. “What’s going on guys?” or “How’s it going this morning”. Be yourself. Take a deep breath. You’re just dealing with human beings. It’s not a job interview. Strike up random conversations and see where it goes. Often times, they buy from you just because you’re a neat person. “I’m going to buy from you because I like you” is easily one of the best compliments you can get.

2. Customer First

If customers need a bag to hold their other purchases, offer it to them – even if they don’t buy from you – it’s all about customer service (plus, it draws them into your booth). Fill your bags with marketing materials like recipes and business cards. That way, even if their bag is full of other products, they’ll be reminded of your brand when they get home and unpack.

3. Assess Your Body Language

Body language is everything. Try not to cross your arms. Don’t sit down or be on your phone. That doesn’t create a welcoming booth. Smiling and eye contact are powerful, too. Sometimes, I even do jumping jacks to stay warm (Vermont is 30 degrees in the morning in May and October). The motion attracts people and brings them into my booth (oh, and I burn off the scone I had for breakfast).

4. Find Common Ground & Tell Stories

People like forming relationships with you. Ask questions about a location on their shirt or hat. Ask what they might be doing in town, where they are from. Take an interest in them – don’t even try to sell them anything – and all of a sudden you’ll notice you’ve opened up a pretty nice sales opportunity. Go get ’em!

5. Paint a Picture

Some customers might need some help imagining how they’re going to use your products. Paint a picture for them. Here’s an example for college students who want to know what our mustard goes well with: This mustard goes great on grilled cheese. Get some aged-cheddar and crunchy sourdough. It all just melts together into one gooey mess. So, so good. Are you thinking about grilled cheese now?

6. Be Confident

You’ll sell a lot more if you know you can sell it. Pump yourself up at the beginning of the day and in the middle. Don’t let a no-sale let you down. Get the next guy :p

7. Sell What Sells

If you know what moves, sell more of that. Or, sell your favorite. While there are flavors for everyone, sell what brings in the money. And as I’m sure you’ve experiences, you’ll only sell what you sample. Sample three flavors but have ten? Bring more of what you sell. Plus, be prepared to sample everything when a customer asks about that mystery jam on your shelf. If wedding catering is big in your area, do that. If it’s vending at a music in the park, adapt to that environment.

8. Have a Reason to Come Back 

Why should customers come back to you next week? This is why we have the test new menu items. It gets people coming back week after week to see what’s new (or to stock up). Plus, they enjoy talking to you. If you can, try to learn their name, too. Using names in conversation shows you care about your customers. Yes, it’s a lot of work. but it makes a HUGE difference in the food truck business.

What tips do you guys have for improving your sales pitch? Let me know in the comments – help us build an army of food vendors who can sell in any environment!