Cinco de Mayo is one of my favorite holidays!
My first role in sales was with Margaritas Mexican Restaurants where I developed and started a catering and events sales program for their Boston based locations when I was just 23 years old.
It was in this job (creating a role & program from the ground up) where I first fell in love with sales. I realized that sales (even though at the time I wouldn't call myself a sales person, I'll write about this soon) was all about helping people and that love has kept me inspired and motivated for the past 11 years.
You might be wondering, what exactly does it look like to create a catering and event sales program from the ground up? Let me share, but first let me give you a little background.
I was originally hired by the Dover, NH Margaritas location to help them with Marketing for their location. I was tasked with running their monthly charity event, coming up with nightly specials to attract new business and building relationships with community partners. I loved the job and because I loved it, I saw a lot of success.
My success gained attention from the restaurant chains corporate office in Portsmouth, NH and I started to build relationships with their marketing team and eventually they decided to bring me on in a corporate role to help all of the Boston locations with their marketing strategies. It's in this role that I identified a massive need for a formal catering and events program. Each Massachusetts location was strategically located near and around business parks, but they weren't at the time taking advantage and marketing properly to all of the opportunity around them.
I decided (after running it by a few really important people in my network) that I needed to bring this need to leadership. I was petrified, but I felt in my heart that if they made this investment in both the program and ME to run it, they wouldn't regret it. Long story short.. I proved myself and them right, to the point where we expanded the program to both MA and NH locations and hired two additional catering and event sales reps to work under me! Below are the roles and responsibilities I took on when building the program
Established there was a need and presented to leadership, the CEO & Head of Marketing for buy-in.
After buy-in was established, I created catering and event offering including the menu, packaging and pricing.
Built an on-going and growing list of prospects. I did not have ANY leads when I started out. I didn't have a CRM or any sort of automation. Everything was manual, tedious and time consuming.
Prospecting looked like: My driving around in my car to every business park I could find, getting out of my car and taking pictures of the organizations inside of each building to create my list of leads
Start selling - I called every business on my list and asked for the front desk manager. I asked if I could bring in a catering sample for them to try and schedule that drop off.
Book the business!
Trained the restaurant staff on new menu and offering.
Executed the event (yes, I was in the kitchen and packaged each catering order and delivered it too) I eventually had help from the restaurant staff with this once the program took off, but not at the beginning.
Booked repeat business and nurtured all of my business.
WOW, I'm exhausted just remembering everything I did back then. In reflection, I wouldn't have changed a thing. It taught me so much about girt, hard work, collaborating, building a business plan and so much more. It also gave me a whole new level of appreciation and gratitude when I did start working for a tech company and had a BDR, CRM, Marketing Automation and support.
It's important to note, while I learned so much from my first sales role and I worked extremely hard, I was encouraged to have a healthy and active personal life. The Margaritas culture prioritized family, work/life balance and taking VACATION! They even had a stipend they would provide to any employee looking to visit Mexico!
Writing this post was so fun and reminded me again how much I love Cinco de Mayo because it reminds me of my professional journey and when I first fell in love with a career I've held for the past 11 years and am now helping other women love and thrive in!
Written By: Tara Ryan - Founder/CEO, Infinidei