1136: Dave Anderson DSR of the Month from Institutional Wholesale Company (IWC Food Service)
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“Many people helped me when I first became a DSR. I asked the veteran DSRs so many questions that I finally started learning. Don't be afraid to ask them questions!" ~ Dave Anderson
Dave Anderson of IWC Food Service, Cookeville, Tennessee earned top honors as AFDR’s September 2018 DSR of the Month placing him in the AFDR DSR Hall of Fame. This award makes him eligible for the 2018 DSR of the Year.
Dave's territory is middle Tennessee between Nashville and Knoxville and he only lives two miles from his warehouse. Anderson began at IWC as a 17-year-old in the warehouse and also worked relief sales for a year in a half. Working in the warehouse helped to familiarize Dave with the box and manufacturer of products, but not what was inside. Trying to convert box numbers that were in his memory to use in sales was hardest. It took about 2.5 years to learn the products themselves. Working relief sales really helped him to pick up on different good sales traits from a variety of sales people by working with them for a week before he was to fill in for them.
Sales meetings and tastings were also helpful in learning new products. When new items were being shown, Dave said he was always thinking of the various customers who might benefit from the new products in their applications.
Anderson handles his A/R by telling his customers upfront that he collects the account from last week first before they begin discussing this week.
When working on a new prospect, Dave does his research by looking at the memorabilia in a place or especially in their personal office because it helps you get to know them and their interests. It’s a good idea to learn all you can about their sports team or other interests, etc. and become a “fan” of it, whether you like it or not, because it makes them feel like you care and gives you a connection.
When prospecting new customers, Anderson follows three basic rules:
- First time in, have lunch checking out the menu and food, types of products and observing how they do business. Do Not leave a card.
- Next time in, inquire with waitress about the boss/who does the buying and are they onsite or not.
- Finally, make the call once homework and history have been done. The main thing Dave stresses with new prospects/customers is that he will be honest with them because he wants to treat his customers the way he’d want to be treated.
It’s important to figure out what works for you as to the style you will use with each customer. You can’t always be the “same” with every customer because that one style might not work with them. You must be able to adapt like a chameleon.
There’s much to learn from your customers by listening to them. They’ll teach you and you can apply what you’ve learned with another customer maybe in another town. This gives you a good working knowledge.
Also, just listening to a customer can tell you what help an account needs, for example if they ask about how much food has gone up, this tells you they’re suffering in their pocket book, maybe their food or labor costs are running too high. Offer to sit down with them to go over their entire menu, item by item, to see if they’re keeping up with the times with their menu prices, giving them suggestions to help make them money so they stay in business.
When you have a good relationship with your customers, they’ll normally tell you if another salesperson is trying to get their business. As long as you are taking care of them, keeping your prices in line, and watching their menu costs etc., they won’t go anywhere because you are their partner and are helping them make a living. Over time, customers become your friends or like a part of your family.
If you walk into a customer early and find that their dishwasher or waitress didn’t show up, jump in and help them out. Be their best employee.
Dave pursued an account for seven years by dropping off monthly flyers, even though the prospect was totally happy with their distributors. That prospect told him if he ever got rid of one of them he would put him in that spot, and three months later, he did just that because of the relationship that had developed over time and he still sells them today.
Greenhorns: Do not hesitate or be afraid to ask the veteran sales people questions that have been posed to you that you don’t know the answers to. ASK, ASK, ASK! Because a prospect or customer will find someone who can answer it and help them.
DSRs, Be a Resource... and Sell Something!