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After working in fast food restaurants, it was recommended to Greg by folks that knew him to try the foodservice distribution business. So he met with a couple Sysco district managers and asked them if he could ride with a salesman to see if he thought it was something he’d like to do, and after three days of riding with a DSR with 6-7 years of experience, he wanted to do it. The district managers said they’d never been asked to “test the waters” before, but Greg said he would recommends this process to others thinking of entering this profession.
Wags says being a confidant to his customers is how he describes his job to others when he’s asked, because it’s a difficult job to describe to people. Greg tries to help them find the best products for their use when they are looking at new menu items. Matching the right product for the purpose is very important.
Greg uses YELP! and Google to see what other businesses are doing in the market and other markets to get ideas for his customers.
Wags also uses Google, YELP and other sites when he’s prospecting and finds a place he wants to check out. He also might stop in to pick up a to-go menu, and maybe get some coffee or a bite to eat while looking around the place to try to get a feel for what they might need his help on. After doing some homework, he then returns to introduce himself. Unlike when he first started, when he would walk in an establishment for the first time and hand them his business card saying that he wanted to sell them. Wags says he’s now a CUSTOMER FIRST… You have to know what they are trying to accomplish with style and menu offerings. And when they’re ready to compare apples-to-apples and pricing he’ll have a much better idea from doing his homework.
Training is so important because this job is always such a learning experience. According to Wags, when he first started and he didn’t know the answer to a customer’s question, he made phone call after phone call to his peers who were more knowledgeable about everything to get an answer. Wagner says for all Vet DSRs to always remember to answer your phone, and the questions when Greenhorns call. He says because you were there before and know how truly valuable ideas, opinions, and answers of Vets are.
When it comes to A/R, Greg has always done it the same. When the account is set up and terms are agreed to, and the check is due, he picks it up. The times they can’t make payment, he works with them. A few pay online and with ACH, but the majority of them want him to come in and are ready with a check.
Wags cannot emphasize the importance of the truck drivers enough. He has a list of six drivers contact info hanging above his desk. They’ve worked there 10 years or more and communicates with them on a regular basis. Wags believes they’re more important than he is because they see the customers two and three times a week. The drivers know the customer’s and their issues and try to keep them happy. He really appreciates and praises the drivers for their outstanding customer focus.
Most great DSRs have a story about an account that they were initially shut out of, but through their perseverance and good will, they eventually win them over. Greg’s story began at a golf outing with the owner of an establishment. The owner put Greg in touch with his guy who gave him the, “I have enough suppliers already and don’t need anymore.” So Greg passed him his card in case he ever needed anything. A couple weeks later, Greg stopped back in and got the, “we’ve already covered this…” so Greg came back about a month later to share with him the news about one of those suppliers being bought out by another (which the man did not know). So as it turned out, he said he needed Greg’s help. Greg started shipping him 10 cases a week (which at that time was the minimum order), different stuff each week. Next, the customer asked for produce and prices and ended up ordering 20 cases. “We got it to him earlier than the local produce company who the customer had been using for 10 years, and we were 3 1/2 hrs. away,” which ended up being the turning point according to Wags. They have grown into one of Greg’s big customers, buying 85% of their items from him.
Only one out of ten DSRs actually goes back into an account after being told they already have enough suppliers and are happy with them. Obviously, it pays off!
Wags says, “I want my customers to be successful and still be going strong when I’m gone. My customers are my bread and butter, my partners, and I will do whatever I can for them whether they are buying $500 or $5000 per week.”
DSRs, Be a Resource…and Sell Something!