Bob Storbeck of Martin Bros. Distributing Inc. in Cedar Falls, Iowa is AFDR’s March 2023 DSR of the Month, earning him a permanent place in the AFDR DSR Hall of Fame. Bob’s territory is in Mason City and Northern Iowa about 80 miles/2 hours from the warehouse.
Bob was introduced to John Martin and along the way, learned of a cash-and-carry concept they were starting. Martin Bros. allowed Storbeck to do his Capstone Marketing course on launching a cash and carry concept while attending the University of Northern Iowa where Marting Bros. is based. Martin Bros. used a lot of the info from his paper in implementing the store.
Storbeck completed an internship at the cash and carry and then was hired on as an assistant manager for it for a year or so. He then became the candy buyer for Martin Bros. which led to becoming the coffee specialist. After about a year and a half of doing those jobs, he began his DSR career.
This is a summary of the discussion on the podcast with Storbeck, DSR Dave, and guest host Joe:
What hurdles did you have to overcome the first few years as a DSR and how did you go about learning?
Being fresh out of college and young made it difficult competing against seasoned DSRs which took some time and lots of learning. I had to build trust with people.
Being rejected, but staying diligent and persistent and meeting new people, learning more than trying to sell in those first few months.
Absorbing as much as possible the old school way because it was before the ease of searching the internet.
My customers taught me a lot.
Asking questions and then LISTENING, I learned how important it was to listen because I was not an expert.
How do you work with brokers and manufacturer reps in your day-to-day business?
The more you can utilize manufacturer reps, the better because they are the experts on those products.
I try to match what the customer’s needs are with the manufacturer that best fits those needs.
Building relationships and working with Manufacturer reps and brokers can be a great asset for the customer and you.
If the customer succeeds, with the help of these people, that will equal your success.
It is very important to communicate with your customers and the brokers, keeping everybody in the loop and building trust so you know which ones you can allow to go in on their own.
Some reps might try to force items into your warehouse that we don’t want to stock or they are not good communicators, so pay attention.
Response time is important with customers. I try to do that within 24 hrs. at the latest.
How about spiffs, are they important?
Spiffs are a huge motivator. If a product is very much the same as another manufacturer, I will focus on selling products from a manufacturer who consistently offers spiffs. Storbeck personally prefers CASH or Amazon gift cards versus trips. Trips can be nice, but it might be a place you don’t want to go, or it is not flexible on who you can take with you.
I am constantly learning. There is a loyalty to those brokers or reps who took the time to help me learn as a greenhorn and still now. That loyalty does not go away, it is a friendship and mutual respect.
Be a Resource and SELL SOMETHING!!