Graham Teel of US FOODS, selling out of the Raleigh, North Carolina division, earned top honors as AFDR’s November 2018 DSR of the Month placing him in the AFDR DSR Hall of Fame.
Graham’s territory is in Greenville, NC, home of his alma mater East Carolina University (ECU), which is about 2 hours away from his warehouse in Zebulon, NC.
After graduating from ECU, Graham began his first job in management at Waffle House. He attended Waffle House University and came out managing three Waffle Houses. After a year or so, Teel realized he didn’t want to work 24/7, so he was hired to work in management with Bennigan’s. He was moved around all over. While there, a sharp salesman worked at selling Graham backup produce, doing what he could to help Graham with his business. This is when Teel realized he wanted to work in sales.
Teel eventually was hired at PYA Monarch (now US Foods) by a fella who was also from ECU and had played football for the same coach Graham had. A sales rep was needed in Greenville, NC and Graham has now been in that area for 19 years loving it. He became a senior territory manager.
How do you continue to grow your business?
He prides himself on knowing a lot about every single thing they want them to do because that’s how you grow your business and that’s what customers are looking for. Graham stays relevant with his customers by utilizing his specialists like his COP guy with 30 plus years, a corporate chef whose worked for three governors, a restaurant operations consultant who has 24 years, and others who have a wealth of experience who ride with him. With their technology tools and their combined experience with his own, it’s a win-win situation.
Customers, especially the independent segment, are looking for help with their business with new ideas. You need to be a resource for your customers whether it is food related or not, it might be a great painter. He has a guy for everything. Overcommunicating with customers is key… as Graham finishes with one customer, he calls the next to let them know he’s on his way. A mentor once told him keeping himself in his customers’ brains is very important. He sells his customers an average of 95% of everything they purchase. Also, Teel tries to lead with their top line because he believes in the quality.
Teel says it has changed a lot, but he has trained his core customers and explains the credit terms at the beginning. He says when you look them in the eye expecting to pick up payment, as well as, dot your “i’s” and cross your “t’s” it tends to work out. His business now pays 95% online. If you are doing your job and helping them grow their business, usually working weekly with that person who writes the check, you shouldn’t have that much problem.
- Seeks to learn their goals for their business, how they started, where they want to be in 2 years, what he can do to help them reach their goals, etc., then does his homework based on that information.
- Next time he goes in, he takes in a Reference sheet of 5-6 of his great customers who can vouch for the job he does for them and their positive relationship proving he loves the business and is not going anywhere.
- When he makes suggestions, there are ways to present it like it was their idea.
- Bring in key products and possibly a specialist.
Overall, if you train your customers on your tools and how you navigate them, it benefits both of you. Its great to get customers who entrench themselves in the business and understand how you operate. Teel says, “Back in the day, you used to force things, but today it’s a process, like Nick Saban says that if you follow the process it really does work for you. You don’t always have everything you need or thought you had, but you might be able to get more if you are willing to open up a new thought process and adjust to the times and technology.”
DSRs, Be a Resource…and Sell Something!