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Order-takers will be weeded-out in this new information technology-enabled world.
The Cleveland Research Company predicted in a recent article, “DSR’s in foodservice distribution are going away…” They say the new foodservice distribution model is UPS delivering products from Amazon.
Independent Operators are more empowered, more informed, have an increasing number of ways to get the products they want, when they want them.
Operators want and need DSRs to be an expert of all things foodservice so they can learn from them because ALL PRODUCTS will be available to everyone. They don’t want order-takers.
Todd Hauser, DSR at Martin Bros. and AFDR President, shares his perspective on the future of the DSR and foodservice distribution as we know it.
“I think there will be a bit fewer DSRs in the future because the market will weed the order takers out, but the DSRs who work hard adding value to an independent operator’s business will be more important than ever.
I will be worried about Amazon taking my book of sales when Amazon can deliver a 400-case order, with four different temperature zones on a UPS truck with a delivery window of 7:00am to 7:30 am. And when a customer calls at 3:00 pm, hoping to reach an educated sales rep, to say they forgot to order 10 cases of fresh chicken for a catered event and are asking if they can get it delivered to them that night or at the very least Saturday morning!
If UPS delivers only part of your Amazon order today and you’re missing something you need, do you think they care??”
Insights from industry expert Bill Horning on DSRs from now and into the future:
“All industries face the fact that fewer ‘order takers’ are needed. Foodservice is no different. But rarely does that mean less people are needed to move sales along. Computer companies have more B2B “sales people” than ever. The more choices available drives more need to have knowledgeable people help sort it all out. These pros may not be called ‘DSRs’ in the future, but some form of them will exist. Tech always creates more jobs than it eliminates.”
The constantly changing B2B (business to business/distributor to operators) selling space and changing operator expectations present new challenges for DSRs and foodservice distributors. In-order-to remain competitive and hit sales and profit goals, it is critical that DSRs understand this shifting landscape, why these changes are happening, and how to sell to the 21st-century independent operator.
Not only is product information widely available, but it is also instantly accessible. Customers and Prospects are spending more time doing their own research using Google, Amazon, and other third-party websites to find products and services they need to run their operation.
As a result, Operators no longer must engage with DSRs and Brokers in order to obtain the most basic information about a company and its products and services. Operators can search online and quickly find information such as reviews, feedback, pricing, technical information, and competitive comparisons. But Operators still need the sales reps to guide them through the complex process of finding and having access to the right product for the purpose, and offer money making insights.
Operators look for DSRs/Distributors who understand their pain points and are knowledgeable about the industry. DSRs need to become experts on how each product they sell performs, in all aspects of running a profitable foodservice operation and be able to convey that information to Operators. They should also be able to provide perspective on the market conditions and help their Operator partners interpret and apply this information in their own operation.
The 21st-century operator is increasingly more cynical and critical of distributors and DSRs who are selling a “one-size-fits-all” strategy and do not want to engage with those reps.
Operators don’t want to hear a sales pitch – they want to learn something. Use your CRM tools (if you have one) to automate this process so you can bring to the surface the right products at the right time based on the specific situation. This strategy will position you as a go-to DSR and resource for your customers. ALWAYS BE adding value to the conversation.
DSRs, Be a Resource…and Sell Something!