“The more relationships you can have in a building
the better off you’re always going to be.”
Tom Vangritis, US Foods – Raleigh, in Zebulon, North Carolina earned top honors as AFDR’s January 2021 DSR of the Month and has been inducted into the AFDR DSR Hall of Fame.
Tom lives and does business in Wilmington, NC which is about 150 miles from his warehouse.
After buying a car while in high school in 1980, Tom needed money for gas, so he and two friends went to a local pizza joint and applied for a job washing dishes. Tom was involved in the restaurant business from dish washing, to cooking, to managing restaurants (Morrison’s for 10 years). After 12 years in the business, Tom transitioned into sales with the last company he bought from at the restaurant who reached out to him about applying for a job.
What were some of the hurdles when you began and how did you overcome them?
Tom: Talking to people was easy but learning to ask the right questions to find the right products for customers was a little more difficult. I had a lot of product knowledge, but not all. A good way to see and learn more about products was to go back into the customer a day or so after I sent them a sample and see the product for myself.
Do you use the internet to research prospects before going in?
Tom: I like to do homework on the internet to see what they are about and how they may be cross utilizing products. Then I go in the front door, have something to eat, look around, make a quick introduction, leave a card, and push for that next appointment. I gather observations while there to help them and share those with them at the appointment.
On a second appointment, I tend to bring another person with me, a specialist, to keep the conversation moving and to generate other questions, to bring two different perspectives, and with two, you tend not to miss anything.
When I was creating menus in the restaurant business, I always was looking for ways to cross utilize almost every product. Now if I see a product that appears to only being used in one way, that opens up the opportunity for me to suggest more ways to use a product in other menu items, or as specials, to keep the product moving.
How do you find the right person to talk to?
Tom: After doing my homework and talking to others at the prospect location, generally, there is a manager or chef and that is a good place to start, but I value making more relationships in that building than just the manager.
Be a Resource and Sell Something!