Walk us through prospecting a new account, everybody does it differently.
Troy: Usually, I try to go in and eat there, not saying a word, not asking for the business. I just want to see what kind of food they have; see what the crowd looks like at lunch or dinner; or are they empty? I just watch and check everything out. I may go 3 or 4 times and not say anything. I look at it as an investment. I over-order anytime I go to a restaurant, especially on a cold call, an appetizer, a dinner, a dessert. I’m doing maybe two or three different drinks. It’s literally just because I want to see everything they’re buying.
The more I know, the stronger case I can present to the restaurant owner or manager. I kind of ease into it. Sometimes I come in with a paring knife in a Tankersley package. They walk by and see the knife in a package… and ask me and I tell them it is for them or to give to their manager. They let down their guard automatically because you just gave them something. You’re not asking for something, you’re giving them something. So now you’ve presented value to them. So, they’re like, all right, this guy seems okay, and they’ll start talking to you. Now I can ask questions and get answers while just listening to them.
They will tell you so much if you do not overwhelm them and just listen.
How many times will you call on a prospect before stopping?
Troy: I have two different thoughts on that. The first thought is that I will go into a place and eat while working on my computer. I have a place that I just loved the food, the drink, and the atmosphere, but I knew who they were dealing with, and I just would go in frequently. I was always real talkative with the wait staff, and about six months into me doing that, the manager asked me if there was a shortage on ribeyes because her distributor was out. I told her I had 10 cases available, and she ended up ordering 2 cases. So, I helped her out a couple times, and then about the third time, she just asked if I could quote her on everything.
If it’s a cold call prospect that I don’t love their food, I usually give it about three to four times. Since for me it is generally small towns, they usually will recognize me by that time. I will either get an invoice or order guide by then or a hard No. They are busy and I do not want to annoy them by going in there 25 times, so I may circle back in six months.
When you go in to prospect an account with your laptop, what do you do?
Troy: I try to put a sticker on my laptop for a lot of the customers I have. So, when I go into a place, they see the stickers for particular accounts and are impressed by it. It may be a strong competitor for the prospect or simply a prominent restaurant. I go on to say that I sell them food, and that they’re good folks, and joke around saying that I could sell them food too if they want me too. With a showcase account, many of them think I must know something because I’m selling this group.
DSR Dave: Thinking along that same line of competitors and their respect or envy of one another for their tasty food, I used to cross-pollinate by asking my customer who did a great job on say soups to help out another restaurant who really needed the help with that. And maybe the one receiving the help could show them how to do, say a really good hamburger since they did that well. I never had any issue with people saying no.
Troy: It’s because they have the same types of issues and understand each other. That’s what I love about sales conferences… most of us salespeople are people pleasers and have many of the same issues. Once you get egos out of the way, it is friendly, and we can really help each other out.
Be a Resource and SELL SOMETHING!!