Craig Sapolsky, Sysco – Pittsburgh, January 2020

Pittsburgh Pirates ticket office processor chooses a career change and begins foodservice career with Sysco – Pittsburgh and is still at it 23 years later. Craig Sapolsky earns a spot in AFDR’s Hall of Fame with the DSR of the Month honors for January 2020.

Craig didn’t have much sales experience when he began, but the tools and role-play training plus practice, practice, practice were vital to his growth in abilities and confidence in prospecting and learning to deal with rejection and overcoming objections.

When cold calling, Sapolsky uses Yelp, a prospect’s website, and talks to servers while eating at a prospect’s place all to prepare him for his first call on the decision maker which may be 3-4 visits later. Craig is a low-pressure salesman, so he likes to introduce himself when there for lunch and build a rapport and bond with them first. Walking in the back door is not his style.

Early on, Craig asks prospects to fill out a credit/new account application with no pressure, but let’s them know he needs it in order to do anything for them like getting free samples of products.

He knows their top 10-20-line items going in by looking over their menu and then follows up by asking them what those items are to ensure he has accurate matches of the products for them.

Sapolsky believes it is important to own up to his mistakes because it gives him another chance with customers who respect and appreciate that he doesn’t make excuses.

When his day is crazy and a customer calls for example to say they’ve been shorted a lot of product, sometimes for Craig, the best option is to ask his boss to help him out. He doesn’t call his boss about everything, so when he does ask, his boss knows he could really use the help for the customer and his company. He’s been fortunate over the years to have some great bosses who will do just that.

Tips for Greenhorns:

  • Use your good personality to your advantage to build relationships.
  • Answer your phone when customers call, even after hours and on the weekends because they are calling you for a reason. It could be a simple question like how many olives are in a can.
  • Take the couple minutes it takes to help them out because that’s where you can show your value.
  • You want to be their “go-to” person.
  • Help them grow their business.

Tips for Vets:

  • Like a marriage, don’t take anything for granted.
  • Don’t just be an order taker.
  • Continue to be a partner with your customers and help them to continue to grow their business.
  • Help them to be on the cutting edge by showing them new products and new technology, stay on top of the newest trends for them.
  • Help them with social media like their website, Yelp, Grubhub, etc.
  • All of these will remind them of your value as a partner and will keep you on the top of your game.
February 2021
January 2020


Craig Sapolsky
DSR Years of experience: 23
Annual volume:  8 million
Number of active accounts:   22
Territory/City/Area where you sell:  City of Pittsburgh
Average line items per stop:   33
Favorite type of account:   Accounts that see me as a partner in their business
Best tools that help you sell:   Companies that partner with us and help my customers in their operations
Where do you learn about new products:    At our monthly general sales meetings
Favorite website:
Favorite Brand to sell:   Sysco
Hobbies:  Sports and reading