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Lester Lao, a 25-year veteran DSR from Y. Hata & Co., has been inducted into the AFDR DSR Hall of Fame as the DSR of the Month for July 2017. Lester’s territory primarily covers the beach area of Waikiki, Hawaii and downtown Honolulu.
Lester faced challenges that are not typical of most of us in the U.S. Thirty-eight years ago, this DSR of the Month was one of 165 people who were packed in a small boat floating for six days from Vietnam to a refugee camp in Hong Kong. He lived in that camp for five months before a sponsor helped him settle in Hawaii. Lao humbly says that his life has been a journey.
His first jobs in the foodservice industry were bussing tables in restaurants. But because he could speak four different languages, he quickly learned the business which really helped him begin a DSR career at Y. Hata.
Lao says it took him about three years to learn the products, which was the most difficult for him, while interacting with customers came more easily to him.
Lester does not have to make many cold-calls after these many years because most of his new customers are referred to him by his other customers. That is a beautiful thing! When calling on new prospects, Lao says he never went into it by offering a low price. That strategy did not make sense because you have no idea what prices you and the customer will need in order for you both to make money.
“It is nice to be important,
but it’s more important to be nice…”
– Lester Lao
Lao says he also never promises a customer something he cannot deliver. Everything takes so long to get to Hawaii, therefore he finds himself borrowing from one customer to help another until products come in. Many of Lester’s customers run specials because when a main product is out of stock, they must come up with other menu options.
Qualifying prospects for your company versus just trying to sell all types of customers is always a good strategy. For example, if your company is primarily a pizza distributor, you might not want to waste your time trying to sell a German restaurant!
Because Lester is a part of his customers’ businesses, he says if one of his customers has a problem with anything, he drops everything else and helps that customer until the problem is solved… even if it has nothing to do with his company.
DSRs, Be a Resource…and Sell Something!