“I investigate prospects to find what I can do to become an asset and build a need for me.” ~Lisa Kean
Lisa Kean of Merchants Foodservice located in Clanton, Alabama earned top honors as AFDR’s May 2021 DSR of the Month and has been inducted into the AFDR DSR Hall of Fame. Lisa’s territory is in and around Phenix City, Alabama which is about 120 miles Southeast of the warehouse
Lisa’s family has been in the restaurant business for 40 years, so she grew up in it. At 19, Lisa’s mother took over her own father’s two restaurants and a hotel in Palmyra, PA for many years before moving to Tucson, AZ and running healthcare facilities. Upon her mother’s retirement, Lisa took over owning and operating three private healthcare facilities and running them for 16 years. Lisa managed purchasing, menu planning, dietary restrictions, and the service end of it for three, ten bed facilities. She then moved to Columbus, GA and decided to try the other side of it in sales for a new perspective. Meanwhile, her mother bought another restaurant also in Columbus, which of course, Lisa sells! (Lisa’s mother just passed away a week ago, so we keep her in our thoughts.)
What was your biggest challenge when you transitioned to foodservice distribution sales?
Lisa: It looked so easy from the other side when sales reps came in and punched an order in, but I did not realize the sheer management that was required for each and every account, and what the expectation of the broadline distributor was for the requirements to take care of an account.
I had food knowledge, cooking skills, and creative ideas and skills to help operators with their menus, but the business end took a little more time. It took about a year before I realized how important it was to build a relationship with the operator because it was more than a better product. They need to trust you and know you’ve got their back to help with problems, have a good rapport.
I loved the Impact training at Merchants about learning your personality type and the customer’s type, so you know how to adjust and react and found it super helpful.
When prospecting, how do you build rapport?
Lisa: I investigate a prospect and their menu, location, and needs to find what I can do to become an asset. Build a need for you.
A lot of times, I will bake or make a food item that’s not even on their menu and drop it off with my card attached to it and ask for it to be given to the owner/manager.
I come back the next week to ask if they’ve tasted the gift I dropped off. I let them know I am in their area and if they need anything, I am here. Then I directly ask if they mind if I stop by the next week. They usually will say it is okay for me to stop in.
That next week, I make something that is on their menu with one of our products and ask them to do me a favor and taste it or cook it up and let me know what they think of it. I’ll even say that I know what a good cook they are and we would love their opinion.
How do you get a prospect to fill out a Credit App and then to even place an order with you?
Lisa: Depending on the person, I can tell if they are hands on and would rather do it themselves. I offer to do the majority of it based on what I know about them, but they’ll usually say that they’ll do it. The online apps are more conducive to people’s lifestyle now. Others say they’ll do it and tell me to come back to pick it up in a couple days. I always ask for a specific time and acknowledge I know how busy they are and that I do not want to waste their time.
Be a Resource and SELL SOMETHING!!