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Recognizing your weaknesses, and working on them can lead to new strengths, and possibly better ways of accomplishing your goals.
Do you ever wake up in the morning feeling overwhelmed because you’re not reaching your goals and feel that it may stem from a weakness you have in the sales process? I felt that way the first few years of my DSR career because I had a weakness in an area that was most crucial to my success in the foodservice distribution business.
I came up with my game-changing strength through one of my biggest weaknesses. I had a serious weakness in cold calling and opening new accounts. I was so bad at cold calling that I was on my third, and probably last reprimand for not making enough new account calls. My boss told me that the best way to grow my sales was to knock on more doors; it was a numbers game. He was right, but my fear of walking into an operator that I did not know was so great that even after his last warning, I still could not walk into an account like the other DSRs did.
I had to come up with a different approach, so I started going into these new prospects as a customer by sitting at the bar (if they had one) and ordering the cheapest menu item because I had little money. While sitting there nibbling and sipping, I quickly wrote down every ingredient on the menu and everything I could see sitting around, plus any items I saw coming out of the kitchen. I would normally walk out of the place with 75 to 100 items I knew they used for sure. At night I would code/price, put a brief description into my Tandy TRS-80 (Radio Shack) personal computer, and print out what I called an ordering guide, which in 1980, didn’t exist yet.
I would then make an appointment with the prospect to meet and present the order guide (at their convenience, not mine), and I would always leave the order guide with them. I could then tell my boss that I made the call, which made him feel a little better about keeping me on. More times than not, the prospect would call me and ask how I knew what products they were using. I told them that I had been there as a customer and took good notes, which took them by surprise because that was not typical of DSRs then.
Making those ordering guides was working so well, I started making them for my existing customers, so I would know which items I needed to work on if I was going to even think about having a chance to sell them more stuff. I would update these ordering guides every time I would find other products that I had missed before, or new items they had begun buying from other distributors, or on a monthly basis. The next thing I knew, I was not only reaching my sales goals the company had set for me, but also was reaching my personal financial goals along with helping my customers reach their goals.
Those ordering guides were the “one big strength” I had over my competition, and was why I became the single distributor to most of my customers. From recognizing that weakness and fear of making new account calls, I came up with a new way to accomplish the same thing that actually worked better for me! Overcoming that weakness by doing something concrete to accomplish the same task turned out to be my secret to success!
Out of this one weakness, not only did I come up with a way to call on new prospects, I also came up with a way of penetrating my existing customers!
If you are feeling overwhelmed or unsuccessful with your daily routine, start working on your weak areas and watch the positive results that will follow.
DSRs, Be a Resource… and Sell Something!