DSR Dave & DSR of the Month, Steve Lentz of BiRite Foodservice distributors discuss their different ways to get that next item and sell more items to each customer. They also discuss working with your team to get better results for all and tips for Greenhorns and Vets.
Key ways to get that next item and help your customers to have their inventory at their fingertips coded out.
Steve: I read their menu for items I am not selling them. There may be a reason I am not getting certain items, but 8-10 times I will get that business eventually.
DSR Dave: I would create Ordering/Purchasing Guides with all of their inventory. When making a cold call, I would leave with 100 items written on my notepad that I’m sure they are using to begin my guide. I would also ask if they had a purchasing guide in case of a fire or other situation. Most did not have one, so I would offer to create one for them if they would allow me in the back and in the cooler to include everything they bought, not just the items they purchased from me. I went from $1.7 million in sales my second and a half year into it, to over $5 million in sales in 9 months.
Steve: You became a partner to those accounts and became indispensable.
DSR Dave: I also would get a sales history of everything we/my company sold in descending case order, not dollar or profit, but what our company sold the most of, the Top 100 or 200 List. So when I would code out the guide, say for ham, I would code the first ham on the list since we sold the most of it. I could work my way down that list if that product didn’t work for them.
On AFDR.org, we have the TOP 400 Products from DOT Foods updated every quarter.
Does how you treat your peers/teammates make a difference?
Steve: Absolutely! I have good relationships with everybody from credit, routing, purchasing, ownership, district manager, and more. We all have to be on the same page and listen to each other to come up with solutions. I strive to be nice, but sometimes I can be a little abrupt and will call back to apologize.
DSR Dave: I made the mistake of treating our inside people poorly when I was running around 90 miles per hour in an uncontrolled environment! I would call into the office, where it seemed to me they would be in 1st gear, relaxed and comfortable, and I would be in 5th gear. I learned that nobody in the office liked me because of the way I was treating them. When I turned that around, again, my sales increased significantly because I had a full team working with me and not against me.
Do you turn your phone off?
Steve: I do not turn it off, but do turn it on Do Not Disturb between 10 pm – 6 am. I am very fortunate, my customers are very respectable of my time and I am respectable of theirs. They will send me a text and when I get up at 5:30 am, I sit down and get to those. Most of my business is done between 6 am and 2 pm, which helps alleviate the stress at cutoff time.
How do you feel about talking about personal things with customers?
Steve: I do try to connect with my customers by talking about personal things that involve their hobbies, kids or families, but keep it positive. I try not to complain, which is hard sometimes, we are human, but I do not discuss personal issues.
DSR Dave: When I started, I had never sold before and worked my first month driving trucks, but I made the mistake of following what I heard other DSRs doing which was complaining about all the problems I was dealing with. I learned an embarrassing lesson when a customer did not want to buy from me anymore because of the stress it caused him when I downloaded my problems on him weekly.
I quickly began answering the “How are you?” question with “Perfect!” Again… what a positive change this made in my business and life relationships!
How do you plan for a vacation so things do not fall apart while you are gone?
Steve: We have a rookie run our route. I always take a greenhorn/rookie around to all of my accounts to let my customers know who will be taking care of them in my absence. I tell my temporary replacement that if they make a mistake, just own up to it, and get it taken care of and move on.
Managing your A/R and filling out the Credit Application:
Steve: Our credit apps are online and I send it to their email. 99% of the time I do not have any problems. Occasionally I might have to fill part of it out or print it for them.
My online pay is about 75% now. I’m very lucky that I have organized customers and I am 99% current. I have a good credit manager who will send me or the customer any missing invoice right away so things do not get too far out.
- Accept responsibility and take care of problems without blaming others even if it is not your fault. Whatever happens, out of stocks, etc., just accept it and take care of it.
- Believe in yourself.
- Enjoy learning and growing, get the sales, get the prospects, and enjoy life!
What would you say to DSRs who may be thinking of getting out of this business due to the struggles of Covid?
Steve: The grass is not greener anywhere else. Look at what you are doing, learn from others who are making it, and think outside of the box. Hang in there and be positive.
Be a Resource and Sell Something!