847: Thurston Foods Jeanne Hamilton DSR of the Month

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Jeanne Hamilton of Thurston Foods – Wallingford, Connecticut has been named the DSR of the Month for December 2015 and has been inducted into the AFDR DSR Hall of Fame.

Thirty-seven years ago and fresh out of college, Jeanne Hamilton answered an ad in the newspaper for a customer service rep position at a bakery supply distributor in New England. She ended up running that department for about a year. Hamilton tells a story about the very first call she took on her first day as an inside customer service rep when a really angry customer called and told her that if the truck wasn’t there within five minutes he would refuse the load and not buy from them again! Jeanne found the driver and got him to that account in time and still sells that account today!

After about a year when a sales route became available, Jeanne asked the boss if she could go out on the street and take over that route. He said “yes,” and the rest is history.

This DSR of the month explains how she’s learned that customers really like doing business with people they like, and when that works out for you, price is no longer the big elephant in the room every week. According to Jeanne, there are always certain customers who, no matter what you do, will price you to death. If you want those customers, all you have to do is have a cheaper price and you’ll get that short-term customer. Hamilton chooses to do the hard work for her customers who don’t bug her about price, but not for the price shoppers.

Jeanne manages her A/R collections by creating a plan when she first sets up an account. She then is very consistent at picking up checks and in some cases, she even writes the check herself. DSRs need to listen to this audio interview to hear her explain this process.

Hamilton’s product knowledge comes mostly from asking customers about products and watching how and why they use them. She also has learned a great deal from manufacturer reps and brokers.

Topics this DSR of the Month, Jeanne Hamilton, talks about in her interview:

  • Why she takes different roads each week to find new accounts.
  • Why she gets to know her customer’s family and pays attention to their other interests to build a relationship with them and become their friend. Customers like to know that you’re interested in them, not just interested in their order.
  • How her boss met her at an account and showed her how little things like asking a customer about his racehorses made the difference in getting a two-truckload order versus no order at all!
  • How samples work for her and how she manages how the samples get to her customers.
  • You know you have a great relationship with a customer when they let you write your own checks each week!

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