Matt Palmieri is AFDR’s latest inductee to the AFDR Hall of Fame as the October 2020 DSR of the Month. Palmieri works with Gordon Food Service out of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
He has been a DSR for 12 years. His warehouse is 30 miles from his territory in the South Hills of Pittsburgh. Matt’s family was in the restaurant business, so he began working in the industry at the very young age of 14 bussing tables and washing dishes and continued on through college. Matt fell into distributor sales completely by accident by asking his Gordon sales rep why he was always smiling and looking happy… The DSR’s answer was because he truly loved his job. Matt ended up interviewing and began as a DSR.
The hardest part of the first year was thinking he knew all the products but realizing he did not know hardly any. He was very young without children, so he just worked really hard until late. Being very competitive helped him learn and grow too. Palmieri was fortunate that his marketing folks could help him with product information as well as learning from customers and how they used products. His biggest challenges were on the selling side as he felt he had a good grasp on the products by the end of the first year, but about three years for the selling aspect.
Palmieri’s first manager was very helpful with the nuts and bolts of selling and how to overcome objections with some great responses that Matt has always remembered. One of his favorites was when a prospect was happy with their current sales rep and distributor, he would respond with, “Yeah, of course you’re happy or you would have called us. We’re just walking in your door hoping to talk to you. I’m not trying to sell you anything today, I just want to talk to you and maybe set something up and start building a relationship in case you need something so we are the first business card you pick up.”
Matt is in a unique position since he grew up in his sales area and has had the same territory for 12 years. He knows 99% of the accounts in his territory.
• Tries to eat at prospect and tells them he had a great lunch and leaves his business card.
• While there, he’s looking at volume, who they’re buying from, how many seats they have, traffic that time of day, and who’s running things, not looking at which products they use at this point.
• Takes his notes from and for appointments immediately after in his CRM system so that it benefits him as well as management. Must benefit him to have incentive to use the system.
• Getting on their level and seeing what’s going to work for them.
• Being prepared then and there to have a conversation in case they say they have time to talk right then.
• Having the right response to their “I’m happy with who we do business with” objection, so a relationship can be formed, opening a door for them to call him over a competitor.
• Asking for a credit app to be filled out if the prospect asks for a sample, pricing, or delivery days, telling them app needs filled out to get them into the system. Tells them it doesn’t mean they have to buy from them. Just so they can tag things to their account (samples, build order guide, etc.).
It’s not about picking up checks anymore. ACH has made it a lot easier. For a lot of his customers, its not even a topic of conversation. The younger restaurant owners are used to it from paying their own bills that way.
Next Week, Part 2: Working with your Peers