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“When making calls on prospects, ‘No’ does not mean ‘NO’…
‘No’ means go back home, do more homework and come up with another approach before you go back in.” ~ Rick Parks
Rick Parks of Ben E Keith, Oklahoma division is AFDR’s March DSR of the Month for 2018, earning him a permanent place in the AFDR DSR Hall of Fame. Rick’s territory is in and around the Tulsa, Oklahoma area which is 120 miles east of the Edmond, Oklahoma warehouse.
Rick flipped his first burger at 14 years of age and has continued in this business for 34 years. Since he worked in a kitchen and was always watching the Great Chefs program on T.V., a friend dared him to go to culinary school, so he headed to the great restaurant town of Chicago and did it. Not long after, he returned to Oklahoma to work in his trade for the next 15 years. Rick was working at Oklahoma State University when his US Foods sales rep, who became a good friend, suggested he work outside of the kitchen as a distributor sales rep. The friend got him an interview and he was immediately hired and worked there until he came to work for Ben E Keith for the last 16 years.
Passion is what you hear in Rick’s audio interview. He has been successful at keeping his customer base for all these years as they are some of his best friends and he loves to see them grow and succeed.
Rick has passion about work, passion about life, passion about his family. When you hear Parks say that “his work is his life, and life is his work” you’ll understand why and how he writes over $10 million a year.
Relationship is very important in this job. If customers trust you and believe you’re there in their best interest first, then everything else is easy to do. How you begin that relationship depends on the account… but finding out who makes the decisions is more important now than ever and determines whether he goes in through the front door with an introduction and dropping a card or through the back door.
“When making calls on prospects, ‘No’ does not mean ‘NO’… ‘No’ means go back home, do more homework and come up with another approach before you go back in.”
Parks sees those walls as a challenge where he doubles down. He also doesn’t like to share the business, so he does everything he can to pick up those lines. To keep them out of his accounts, he orders 12-15 special order items per day. His company provides him the tools he needs to handle special orders. The more he does that for a customer, the more they realize they don’t need another company.
Rick and five other Ben E Keith reps rotate once a month and go as a group to each other’s customer’s places to show their support and gratitude as customers to them for buying from them. They split the bill evenly and pay with their own money which is more meaningful to the restaurants showing they have a dog in the fight, plus they tip at least 25%, which makes their customers really happy. It also works great if a rep wants to use his month to take the group to a prospect he’s been working hard on and needs a push to reel them in. Probably 6 or 7 out of 10 prospects they support in this way come on as customers.
Working with your peers is very important as you need everybody because it’s a team effort, especially your drivers because they see your customers more than you do. Appreciate and work with your category managers and buyers as they work hard to have what you need. He tries to let his buyers know if he’s going to ship out extra cases the next week so he doesn’t run others out of product. Communication and appreciation is key.
Quick tips for Greenhorns:
- There’s not a veteran DSR out there that wouldn’t be your mentor as long as they know you are working hard.
- It’s a 24/7 job, so you should check your voicemail even when you’ve let them know you’re on vacation, most likely they won’t bother you, but if you do check it and help them out, they won’t forget it.
Tips for Veterans to stay motivated:
- They’ve probably gotten caught in the loop of doing the same motions and routines, just taking orders and not doing anything out-of-the-box. Just do something different, even if it’s trying to get an account that you don’t think will ever happen. Come up with a new routine, a new plan.
- Rick keeps his passion alive by continuing to grow, learning new items, winning trips and traveling to bring ideas back to his customers from other places. You must juggle both worlds, your personal life and business life, but finding a good balance will make it worthwhile.
DSRs, Be a Resource…and Sell Something!