1545: Will Donnell DSR of the Month, FoodPro, Frederick, MD – Part 1 – From Operator to DSR; Selling by Taking Orders


“I don’t discourage anybody from using our online order entry system because obviously it frees up a lot of my time if they place their order. But I think the more interaction that I personally have with the customer, the more locked in that customer is with us.”

Will Donnell of FoodPRO based in Frederick, Maryland is AFDR’s December DSR of the Month for 2022, earning him a permanent place in the AFDR DSR Hall of Fame. Will’s territory is Northern Virginia and Washington D.C. areas. He resides in Centreville, Virginia about 50 miles from the FoodPRO warehouse.

Will began his career on the restaurant operator side of the business doing just about every job there was on that side of the business for 28 years and spent his last six years in management before moving to Virginia and entering his DSR career.

Podcast discussion overview:

  • Donnell explains that it took about 2 years to get a good handle on it, then 5 years before he was completely comfortable and confident in his role as a DSR, learning products and learning what to say to a prospect to get them interested enough to buy from him.
  • In his first few years as a DSR, starting with zero customers, one of the hurdles was simply trying to get people to talk to him.
  • Another hurdle was the day-to-day grind with no business while also seeing all the different kinds of operators’ businesses using such a variety of products that he had not seen before, even though he had been in the business for years and thought he knew products well.
  • Time management was something else he had to learn whereas on the restaurant side of the business, what needed to be done was right in front of you, but out on the street trying to build business was another story.
  • Product knowledge was a huge part of being an effective DSR. That took a while not only learning products, but also how to operate within his company and learn who was purchasing them and such to enable him to sound like he knew what he was talking about with customers.
  • His restaurant experience, which he wouldn’t trade for anything, helped him spark dialog with prospects which eventually got him in the door. Donnell says that he would examine the operator’s business looking for things he could help them with, giving him even more to talk about with them.
  • Will talks about how he takes most of his customers’ orders himself versus customers using their online order entry system because he uses that time to sell and build stronger relationships with his customers, so they can bounce questions off him, sort of old school, but it works great for him. His focus is on how he can be easy to do business with, not how it could be easier for him.
  • At the end of the day, it is the relationships with his customers that he enjoys. Do not let your unrealistic expectations in the beginning discourage you from keeping at it until you gain the knowledge and experience to be confident and become a better partner for your customer.

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