It’s a competitive time to sell software to restaurants
Software innovation is accelerating, and so are the number of tech companies targeting the restaurant industry. Collectively, we’re starting to ask for a lot from restaurant operators.
The tech scene is hot right now. From conversational AI managing phone calls to last-mile solutions striving to help make the economics work for restaurant delivery, it’s a great time for pioneers seeking to revolutionize the painful parts of running a restaurant.
But sometimes three’s a crowd.
Let’s talk about it… MarketMindedlyTM.
Are there too many cooks in the kitchen?
According to TechTable and Vita Vera Ventures’ updated 2023 Restaurant Tech Ecosystem map, there are nearly 200 companies with “Back-of-House, Operations & Systems” solutions to consider. This number is very likely underreported due to the infographic’s inherent space constraints. Beyond the BOH, Restaurantology confirms there are more than 400 “Guest Experience Technology,” and those are just the ones that can be detected when visiting a restaurant’s website. Keep in mind, too, that outside software companies there are hundreds of businesses similarly competing for restaurant dollars and attention. Think food service operators, distributors like Sysco and US Foods, heck even companies like Ecolab and Shoes for Crews are popping in.
To say that the tech space is crowded would be an understatement. And that’s not the only problem.
Restaurant operator’s attention, and patience, are spread thin.
Running the perfect shift is no easy task, and that’s without constant prospecting calls or emails from hungry sales reps offering “better, faster, stronger.” The sheer number of solutions to consider, paired with the onslaught of automated outreach from each of them, has left many restaurants struggling to keep pace or even care about what’s being pitched.
This is a problem.
Getting the attention of restaurant operators, who have grown inherently apathetic to the hype and enthusiasm that surrounds each new software solution, is a growing priority but also a daunting task. And if or when you earn consideration, you’ll be competing for a slice of software spend, which as you can imagine remains as competitive as ever.
So what do we do?
To be clear, selling to restaurants is still a thing, and it will continue to be a thing in the future. That said, prospecting strategies can use a bit of a makeover.
Beyond simply mirroring the personality of the buyer (which btw if you know Myers-Brigg’s please assume they are High Drive), it’s crucial to understand and adapt your outbound techniques to the restaurant industry’s unique dynamics.
When reviewing or crafting content for companies targeting the restaurant sector, I’ve found that adopting the “be brief, be bright, be gone” philosophy can be remarkably effective. This approach aligns seamlessly with how leading operators balance the allure of new software benefits with the pragmatic realities of keeping their businesses afloat.
In addition to hyper-targeted outreach, 2 other recommendations are to learn when to practice patience and when to prioritize pleasant persistence.
SaaS sales cycles can be long, decision-making can be complex, and competition or budgetary constraints mean that sometimes it simply isn’t realistic to have a conversation with everyone we want to sooner rather than later. No doubt you’ll find the occasional buyer ready to make a decision today, but more realistically you’ll need email ticklers and gentle reminders so that when your prospect is finally ready to evaluate software you’re  the first (and only?) name they think of, and  the best-fit solution for their business’ unique needs.
If you’re in SaaS sales targeting restaurants, you probably know all of this. Industry resources are strained, for many the oceans are red instead of blue, and quotas are high.
But if you’re anything like me, this won’t really deter you. I went from Chili’s to HotSchedules to Restaurantology, and I wouldn’t leave this industry for anything. Perhaps you too know that deep down you’re “sold” on serving those who serve others. Or at least I hope you are. It’s fulfilling as hell. And software really can, and does, make a world of difference for restaurants.