“I prefer using the bulldog approach when prospecting.” ~Matt Klug
Matt Klug of Dilgard Frozen Foods in Fort Wayne, Indiana, earned top honors as AFDR’s December 2020 DSR of the Month. Matt lives about 9 miles from his warehouse and his territory is in Northern Indiana up into southern Michigan about 50 miles away.
At five years of age, Klug remembers going into his dad’s restaurants and smelling the food aromas of the place and really liking it. He spent a lot of time in the early morning hours with his dad at his restaurants because he was such an early riser and would go along with him.
When he was older, he worked for his dad and dealt with the sales people and thought their job looked pretty good, they looked like they were doing well, and he was working a lot and not making much money. He ended up going to work for Clark Foodservice in the South Bend area, then later at a Sysco in Grand Rapids before going back for an opportunity with his dad in the restaurant business at about 28 years old. A couple years later, he sold that place and while working at another restaurant, Matt thought about being a salesman back on the road everyday when he encountered an ex-sales manager with Dilgard, and now has been happily with Dilgard for the last 13 years.
What were some of the hurdles when you began and how did you overcome them?
Matt: Building the relationships was the fun part when developing a territory, but you cannot allow yourself to become discouraged by the rejection. Instead, I would bring the food show to my customers. I would do a lot of demos showing them multiple ways of doing things with plate presentations and more. The customers take that to heart.
Do you use the internet to research prospects before going in?
Matt: I research them online, ask existing customers, and look at Facebook page. I don’t use phone call approach for appointments; prefer using the “bulldog approach” by roll in and find out who I need to meet and strike up a conversation, and they warm up to me over time.
How do you respond when they say they are happy with current distributor?
Matt: I really respect that, but it can be a knee jerk reaction by the customer, so I stay after them every two or three weeks, not high pressure, to earn their trust but not brow beat them. Maybe the competition is simply selling on price or just an order taker, I show them things, cook some products up, feed their staff. You have to provide a service and bring something different to the table and build a relationship.
How did you transition your people from the old A/R way to paying online?
Matt: It is pretty easy to get that done now. There’s a few who do not want to, but that’s okay. Inside salespeople can help with getting them set up for paying online.
This business is service driven. I rather spend time with the customer about food rather than keying in orders, which is why you’ve got to get customers online for order entry and bill pay to free up the time to do other much needed service and to get more product through the door.
Does it make a difference in how you work with your peers and how do you make the necessary adjustments?
Matt: Treat your buyers, collection people and others in the office the way you want to be treated. Be kind to your neighbor. We are all striving for the same goal, so butting heads can happen occasionally, but you must be loyal to your company. Always be loyal to your company and then to your customers.
What does being loyal to your company look like?
Matt: Does it make sense financially? It is a fine line you must walk… You may want that big sale, but if it is not good for your company’s bottom line, it doesn’t make a lot of sense.