Don’t celebrate closing a sale, celebrate opening a new relationship! ~Paul Denis
Paul Denis, a 14-year DSR veteran with J. Kings Food Service Professionals has been working in the foodservice industry for 35 years and is the latest DSR to be inducted into the AFDR DSR Hall of Fame for the month of July.
Paul’s first job in the industry was as a 16-year old grill cook in a cafeteria that was feeding about 400 people a day, already building relationships. He became an assistant catering manager for a large university, then catering director at two different places before landing a sales position with a great local company, J. Kings.
In his first year, there were adjustments of learning all the thousands of products and the system to take the orders but learning how to deal with the different personalities and attitudes across the broad variety of customers was the hardest. Learning AR and collecting was also new, but in this business consistency and organization is very important and Paul has been using the same consistent method of terms and collection times since he began so his customers know when to have the check ready for pick up or when to send payment directly to his accounting department. It’s the first thing he checks before walking into see a customer and he keeps them informed with email statements.
New Prospect Tips
Look online for information such as:
- What type of place: breakfast, lunch or dinner place and where their pricing is?
- What kind of items are used on their menu, fresh seafood or fresh produce (on Long Island, some menus will say, i.e. Fresh Tuna)?
- Gathers info to know what the prospect might need and what he wants to sell them.
- Who is the owner?
- What’s the chef’s name?
- Takes in a brochure and clipboard ready to listen and share info.
- Denis believes in looking professional in nice slacks and company logoed shirts.
First appearances are key to getting your foot in the door with a smile and great attitude. But when a prospect is happy with their supplier, Paul tells them he’s happy to hear that as that’s how he wants his customers to feel about him. He never talks bad about the competition and asks if there is anything they may be looking for that he could help with which usually opens up the dialog with possibly a delivery time issue, etc.
Paul follows up in about a week with fliers or a sample to spark interest and explains the benefits and how they could make money with it. He also believes it is important to eat in their establishments to show your support and continue building relationships whether a prospect or a customer. He gets their email so he can send them info that will help build their business, not to bombard them. He does alert customers of bad reviews on social media and helps solve the problem.
Paul feels very supported by his company because all the departments have the attitude of, “We’re all in this together” and he can call or send an email and get an answer in an hour or two.
Tips for Greenhorns
- It does get easier, it’s a learning process.
- Have a good attitude.
- Be honest and consistent.
- Be on time or early, don’t make them wait.
Tips for Veterans
- Always have a smile on your face to keep you motivated and keep customers happy.
- Keep paying attention and asking to see if there’s something new you can offer them.
- Change up your routine by showing up at a different time and maybe the customer will have a different attitude at that time of day.