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Many foodservice distributors and their DSRs spread themselves too thin chasing weak opportunities. This means that when a great opportunity arrives, that company might not have sufficient resources to pursue it properly. When too many prospects are pursued before they are adequately qualified, sales teams expend resources chasing bad deals and pay inadequate attention to the good ones.
The flaw is that many distributor management teams play the “numbers game.” They want DSRs to fill up the pipeline with a high quantity of prospects which gives insufficient attention to the quality of the prospects. Consequently, many DSRs chase any potential opportunity without accurately evaluating their potential for success.
Narrow your market-prospecting
A DSR who narrows their focus and properly qualifies opportunities can eliminate half of their pursuits without expending effort and will find greater success with the other half.
The cost of poorly qualifying is more than wasted time; it can take a toll on your entire sales team.
Poorly qualifying dilutes your resources and can often trigger infighting within a distributor. It’s common to see DSRs arguing with management and operational people about which party is to blame when they don’t open enough new accounts or lose the new prospect.
DSRs, along with management, need to take inventory of their “pieces of expertise.” These are the products that the company best represents in the market and the sales and marketing tools that are being used successfully with operators they currently sell. This allows them to know which problems they have a better chance of solving and for which prospects in the pipeline.
The next step is for a DSR to find prospects in which to build a “customer/partner-side” relationship that they can present and hopefully use those products and tools to turn prospects into long-term customers.
In selling, this is where many DSRs lose their way. They under appreciate the key distinction between someone who might be interested in what they sell, with someone who is willing to make an investment or willing to change from their existing distributor in order to start a business relationship with the DSR/Distributor who is seeking to help them.
Effective selling is a quest to determine whether or not the potential prospect has an issue that you and your company can help solve. Specifically, you are looking for prospects who have gaps in their business where you would fit in nicely. Find prospects who not only face problems you can solve, but also recognize the problems and believe they are worth solving.
Knowing which prospects are worth taking a look at and which ones are not worth your time, today, is essential to your success. The ones who are not a good fit— we will call them non-prospects—pose the greater danger to your business, because they have the potential to suck your energy and resources like a black hole. Even an account that says NO upfront at a cold call, might be a better outcome. If you do not have the right fit that results in a sale, where you can make an impact with an operator (and get paid), then your best option is to get to “NO” as quickly as possible.
This is to suggest an approach to narrowing your market to the RIGHT opportunities. You can dramatically improve your chances by qualifying prospects in the right way. The key is to getting to the point that they know and want your solution as quickly as possible.
Focus on the challenges that your prospect is facing, instead of focusing on the things you are selling. This principle is true in every step of the selling process.
To successfully qualify a potential buyer, you must be aware of the prospect’s needs and your ability to fill them. The sooner you tune-in to the prospect’s perspective, the more efficient the sales process will be. ** Most importantly ask yourself, “why would this prospect need to buy from me more than from his current distributor?”
Prospects understand “WHAT” you’re selling, but they NEED to understand “WHY” they should be buying it from you and your company.
Be a Resource…and Sell Something!