They quietly go about their 12-hour days and simply…
• Influence the “image” of the company more than anybody else (including DSRs) by handling the inventory with care and concern.
• Have open access to their customer’s inside operations once they build trust.
• Provide suggestions and ideas to distributors because they are a living, breathing market research project as they visit the backdoors of dozens of operators.
• Know more about customer personalities that, if channeled properly, can be a huge sales advantage to any company. The great ones make suggestions like “Hey, we carry that, too. You should just add that to your order next week… it would sure make your ordering simpler.”
• Understand what’s wrong and right with any order process because they must deal with the fall out every day.
• Have patience and flexibility that can be the calming influence for many operators who are at wits end because of the economy.
DSRs certainly generate new business every day, and can be an operator’s trusted adviser. But great drivers are often viewed as a friend, or even an extension of the operator’s staff. Who else would they allow in their freezer unaccompanied? Rarely a DSR!
Some of the innovative distributors we’ve talked to are now harnessing this force for good by:
• Recruiting drivers as future sales reps. Many have the right motivation… and, obviously, they know the products, customers and have the diplomacy skills needed to be great reps.
• Incent drivers to work with their DSRs to identify new opportunities, or provide appropriate insights they uncover during their daily deliveries.
• Not only having DSRs ride with drivers on occasion, but have drivers ride with DSRs, and invite them to the sales meetings. Building an appreciation and respect for each other’s roles creates a 1+1=3 partnership that will undoubtedly create more sales and ramp up customer satisfaction.
Click here to listen to an ID Report/DSR Live podcast on this topic.
Foodservice sales and marketing veterans Dave Miesse and Bill Hornung are co-hosts of DSR Live!, a talk show dedicated to discussing issues facing distributor sales reps (DSRs). DSR Live! is produced in collaboration with the Association for Foodservice Distributor Representatives (AFDR) members. AFDR Membership is free for DSRs.