1710: Sarah Rau Goessler, Ben E. Keith – Gulf Coast, Missouri City, TX, Overcoming Hurdles the First Two Years, Prospecting and NEW ACCOUNT APPLICATION a.k.a. Credit Application


“After the first year, I was like, what have I gotten myself into?” ~ Sarah Rau Goessler

Sarah Rau Goessler, a veteran DSR with Ben E. Keith – Gulf Coast based in Missouri City, Texas (Suburb of Houston) is AFDR’s DSR of the Month for April 2024, earning her a permanent place in the AFDR DSR Hall of Fame. Sarah’s territory is “inside the loop” of Houston and in Katy, Pearland and The Woodlands which are suburbs of Houston. Sarah lives about 75 miles (90 minutes) from the warehouse and her territory.

In this Podcast Episode, Sarah tells how she got into the business and explains some of the hurdles she encountered the first few years as a DSR and how she learned and overcame them. She also has a great discussion with DSR Dave on her approach when prospecting and opening up new accounts, even the process of assisting the prospect with the “New Account Application.”

Summary of Sarah’s Insights & Tips discussed on this Podcast Episode:

  • If a chef is cooking something and wants you to taste it, you taste it even if you don’t like that food. The biggest insult to a chef is to not taste their food.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask your customers about a product they are requesting or use that you are unsure of what it is. Just tell them you want to make sure you send them the right thing.
  • Learning about products starts with knowing your company’s Top 200 items sold, BY CASES, not dollars, and then all the other products. With so many products available, DSRs are asking which products they should learn first.
  • Sarah talks about how she had to learn the many different names of the same product, like film versus Saran Wrap. Depending on where an operators is from, they call it what is familiar to them.
  • Cold calls were one of the hurdles when she first began (and still are a challenge) and she learned early on not to take a product in as a sample before you’ve done your homework on the account. She describes an example in the podcast about taking a sample of a good salad dressing they sold into a white tablecloth restaurant. While giving the sales pitch to the Chef, he stopped her asking if the dressings he made were not good enough. She calls this a “Rookie Move.” DSR Dave gives his example of sampling frozen onion rings to his customer that was famous for their homemade onion rings—learned his lesson that day.
  • Prospecting: Goessler uses the internet to gain insights about the account and takes good notes before she goes in to have lunch.
  • Making her first visit, she likes to sit at the bar so she can get more information about the place. She has found that sitting at a table does not work as well because the waiter usually has multiple tables and does not have time to chit-chat, but the bartender only has their bar customers to take care of. Good bartenders try to engage with customers, so it works out great.
  • Sugar and sweetener packets tell a lot about prospects. Number one is who all they are buying from, and if they are buying from multiple distributors, it tells her they’re more about price than building a relationship and partnership.
  • When on commission, your time is money so when Sarah does talk to an operator who’s buying from multiple distributors, she thinks of the discussion as a coaching challenge. Sarah explains in detail to them about the costs a distributor has, with delivery being a big cost, so if they could buy more per delivery from fewer distributors they should get a better price and service.
  • When making her initial calls on the prospect, Goessler tries to make it more about the prospect asking questions about products they are having problems with or a problem getting a product. She takes it slow and even as a “backup supplier” just to get started with an operator.
  • Sarah prefers to use “New Account Application versus Credit App” because this application is very intimidating for some independent customers, especially a smaller operation.
  • Be an expert on your “New Account Application.” Be able to answer every question a prospect might come across while filling it out. The better you can answer every question on that application, the better chance you have of selling to that customer. This is the beginning of the trust needed in your future relationship.

Be a Resource and SELL SOMETHING!