Francesca Falcon of Ben E. Keith, San Antonio is the latest inductee into the AFDR DSR Hall of Fame as the June DSR of the Month.
Falcon is about 175 miles from the warehouse in Selma, TX.
Francesca worked in restaurants waiting tables while she attended college and when her family opened their own restaurant, she worked there opening at 5 pm daily and doing everything which gave her great experience and knowledge of both the front and back-of-the-house which helped get her the job as a DSR even though she did not have direct sales experience.
Her first few years were tough because of her lack of experience and gaining the respect of the customers who had been doing this for years when she was only 23-24 years old. Francesca says she works alongside a great group of experienced people who talk day-to-day while driving about customer issues, products, markets, brokers, and all things to help get the job done. She also learns a tremendous amount from her DSM.
Francesca says, “Knowledge is everywhere if you look for it, with your peers, the internet, and a great DSM can do so much for you throughout your career as they teach you.”
She never considered giving it up in the first couple years when it was tough because she was building a territory and loved seeing it grow, setting goals and achieving them and loved working with the people every day. What she enjoys most is getting up and seeing her customers every day, hearing their problems, and helping them. She is very relationship based.
Falcon does not like to share accounts; she is the primary vendor in most of her accounts and has had to work very hard to keep it that way during this pandemic. Ben E Keith’s purchasing department has done a great job, plus she stayed on top of it to keep her customers going because the Coronavirus caused shortages throughout the nation on certain products, and she didn’t want this to be an excuse to have to share an account.
Planning is everything. Setting goals first, then planning, daily, weekly, monthly and for the year. Typically, she’d do orders on Sunday then plan the next week when she was done. Daily, she reviews her text messages, voice mails, emails, and her planner to make sure she didn’t miss anything. Being organized helps you to run your business more efficiently.
Francesca likes to go in with brokers or manufacturer reps to her customers to make sure they are not showing products she has in place already for a specific reason, plus learning about the new products and discussing those with her customers.
She has stopped in on prospects during this pandemic and asked how they were doing and just listened to see if there was an opening to help them out due to shortages, etc. Ordering food and maybe doing some work while there helps too.
Francesca likes to go in as a customer first and do a little research online and while there seeing what they’re using and talking to the server and cashier for info on who is in charge, who they buy from, etc.
To avoid A/R issues, she qualifies customers when building her territory, working with customers on food cost, labor cost, menu pricing and addressing those things before they have A/R issues. Also, establishing respect by asking for the money and what your company expects.
This is a relationship business that extends to everybody you work with on a daily basis. “People buy from people; people work with people and it is important to be kind and appreciate the work everyone inside is doing. We call this sales support and ours is awesome, all these people make it so much easier for me to do my job and I genuinely appreciate them.”
Leave your own emotional baggage at the door, and approach people like it is a new day. But it is okay as you build relationships to be a little personal because it’s harder to fire a “person” than just another sales rep.
Tips for Greenhorns:
- Keep swimming, keep your head up
- Ask questions of your customers and peers
- Set goals and create plans to reach those goals
Tips for Vets:
- Take time for yourself to refresh yourself so you can do your best and remember why you love it
- Consider being seen by your customers for your value and solutions, not just as another salesperson
DSRs, Be a Resource…and Sell Something!