How do you respond to those prospects who are happy with who they are buying from?
Jon: Once I have been told that, I usually stop by from time to time to check on them to see if things are still working for them and in case sales reps change or other needs arise. I go in maybe once a month, but it varies depending on the prospect and their response. I do not want to be too annoying but want them to remember me. When they start calling me asking for the price of chicken or wings, then I might bump up my visits to them. When they start asking questions it is a good thing because their sales rep must not be communicating the current markets, etc. to them. I will offer to send them my weekly emails with market reports which can possibly open a crack for an in.
Have prospects been more willing to talk to you During and Post COVID than before due to prices and shortages?
Jon: Yes, absolutely because everyone is struggling to find items. Accounts that I worked on a year or year and a half ago may reach out to me seeking to find items and help. It has opened a few more doors, but it can also open a door for someone else to try and take them from me if I cannot get all the items they need so, we work hard to manage ourselves and provide a good replacement to protect those accounts.
Is there anything new you were forced to do during COVID that you will continue to do?
Jon: Now that things have opened up more and business has gone through the roof, I have had to shorten my day in order to have more time to go through orders and make sure customers have what they need and are not shorted. I have told them that if it is not the same item, there is a reason for that, and I will sub a similar item to cover them.
About 60-65% of my customers order online. I still have accounts who want nothing to do with it because they want to see me to go over things.
Do you tell customers they need to look at their menu prices for possible increases?
Jon: I send a weekly letter out to customers and have boldly told them that if they are still operating on 2020 prices, they are losing money. I let them know I will come help them with those changes if they want, but that they need to revisit menu updates especially if they use chicken or wings.
Is there any difference yet since many manufacturers have gone away from national brokers to a direct sales force?
Jon: Not really, although it is a little frustrating trying to find out who it is and their contact information, and it is a little bit more work on my end, but they are still willing to work with you and get samples for your accounts.
I have great relationships with some brokers, and they know I try to sell their stuff first because they help me with what I need. I start with them because they give me the most variety in samples to go into my accounts with. It is about the relationships. A win-win.
Be a Resource and SELL SOMETHING!