Jason Brown, DSR of the Month, Shamrock Foods, Phoenix, AZ – First Few Years: Cold Call Challenges, Prospecting & Penetrating Existing Accounts
“My passion in this job is figuring out how to sell everything to every customer.” ~ Jason Brown
Jason Brown of Shamrock Foods out of the Phoenix, Arizona-based distribution center has been awarded AFDR’s DSR of the Month for December 2023, earning him a permanent place in the AFDR DSR Hall of Fame.
Jason’s territory is in the “Valley” – Mesa, Tempe, and Chandler, which is east of Phoenix.
Brown got his start in the business at an early age because his father owned a distributor named City Meats where Jason did just about every job from working on the cutting floor, hand selecting beef to loading and washing trucks while in high school. He then moved into the accounting department while attending ASU for college, where he received an accounting degree. After graduating he was still working in the accounting department waiting to find a “REAL JOB” when the family sold the company to Kraft Foodservice/Alliant. Since he had not found his real job yet, he went to work at Kraft/Alliant in sales and his DSR career was born at 22 years of age.
Hardest things to learn:
- How to cold call, how to make a name for yourself, who to call on, and product knowledge. Moving from center of the plate to a full line distribution company.
- Still don’t love making cold calls, but if I want an account, I will go online to check out their menu first, check their hours, and search for the owner’s name. I will contact Shamrock first to find out if we have an account set up for that customer or if we’re already selling them, or when the last time we sold them was, and find out why we are no longer selling to them.
- I will learn what I can online then eat there at the bar. I will usually ask for the manager or the owner while eating. I’ll ask who they’re buying from and who the sales rep is. I ask if there’s anything I can help them with. What they like about their distributor, what program they are on, do they get night or day drops. I just keep the conversation flowing.
- If the owner tells me they are happy with their rep and distributor, I will frequent the restaurant for a couple of months trying to build a relationship with him and then I will ask him if I can give him some information about my company and myself and about what we sell and how we do business on our side. I will continue to eat there getting to know them for a year if needed and eventually something will happen. Over that time, I will have gotten to know the owner and the people in charge, and if anything ever happens with the current distributor, they will call me first.
For the most part, people buy from who they like. I think 99% of the time if they like the rep, they’ll like the company.
I love engaging the wait staff and whether I go into a restaurant for work or with my family, I will always pick a category, like sandwiches, seafood, etc. and ask the waiter to bring something they love or sell the most in that category.
Penetrating Existing Accounts:
- Identify the categories that I’m not selling. Since I have the account, I already have a good enough relationship with the decision maker that I can simply say that I noticed that they don’t buy certain chemicals from us, and ask who they buy them from and why? I’ll ask if I can bid on it.
- I may not be good at cold calling, but I am good at building a relationship with a customer. And more often than not, owning the account 100%. That’s what I love. My passion in this job is figuring out how to sell everything to every customer.
- I love getting to know customers and putting them in a position to trust me, to take care of everything they need. Right or wrong, I’ve always gotten anything my customers needed, even when we don’t carry it, I’ll get it on Amazon, Webstaurant, or wherever I need to get it because I want that customer to ask me for everything they need, even if I know I don’t have it. I’ll tell them I don’t have it, but that I’ll get it for them. And I bring them in the receipt, and they pay me back. I’m pretty decent at building their order guide shelf to sheet, getting them set up on online orders, and being there for them, for everything.
If my customer calls me because they forgot something or were shorted, I will handle that whether on a Saturday, Sunday or a Tuesday night at 7 pm, 99 times out of 100. That’s just who I am.
But long term, I’m not going to be cheaper than everybody else, and I don’t want to be cheaper than everybody else. And I will say that to my customers straight up because I don’t think they want to be cheaper than everybody else. They want people to come back to their restaurant and eat at their restaurant every day of the week if they can, and not care if the price went up $4 for a filet because it’s worth it. I want my customers to buy from me no matter what and I get what I’m worth.
Be a Resource and SELL SOMETHING!!