1127: Mark Block of Sysco is DSR of the Month

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Mark Block of Sysco - Chicago, Illinois is AFDR’s 2018 July DSR of the Month earning him a permanent place in the AFDR DSR Hall of Fame.

Mark began his career with Sysco 29 years ago after answering an ad in the newspaper. He was selling Yellow Page advertising for two years after graduating from college and wanted to sell products where he could build relationships that had repeat business and were commission based. Needless to say, Block found the right industry for that… he’s writing $18 million per year.

He loves following up! His tool of choice is a spiral notebook that he makes all his notes in and color codes it too. If he needs to collect a check or write a credit, he knows it, and anything he doesn’t complete on that day, he puts on the next day’s page to be taken care of. It’s his work bible; what keeps him organized. Mark still has all 29 years-worth of notebooks he could look back on to see what was happening in any particular account.

Key Tips for DSRs:

  1. Relationships with your customers are key, everyone from the owner to manager to cooks and bussers. “I like to talk to people (customers) as friends, not as a hard sell because it works better for me.”
  2. Follow up. Write it down and do what you say you’re going to do.
  3. Organization is having a place to write all questions and follow up items.
  4. Product knowledge and/or matching the resources of your company with the customer’s needs, finding a broker, a specialist, more inside people, whatever is needed to help the customer.

Block is a squeaky wheel because he is persistent and doesn’t stop till he gets what he needs. He rather be thought of as a pest rather than the opposite like someone who doesn’t care. When you’re out making deals, you need everyone you work with, buyers, merchandising people, etc. because everyone has something to offer toward the success of you and your company. Having the drive to be one of the best is part of what makes him a squeaky wheel.

Following up (using your organizational tools) every night after work and dinner is a must before he goes to bed. Mark goes through his notebook where he notes the many requests and questions from his customers from that day and completes each before going to bed… emails, finding products, price list, etc. The customers will wake up to the answers to their questions/requests, according to Block and, “They see that I care.”

New Prospects:

Go as a customer, maybe a couple different meal times and order and observe the food and wait staff to get a feel. You can see who they’re buying from by their sugar packets, products by checking out the dumpster and boxes in the back and by talking to wait staff. Maybe second time in as a customer, try and identify the manager or owner and approach with an introduction to see if there’s an opportunity for you to earn some business. Mark uses email to show all the resources Sysco has to offer, different chefs, specialists and e-commerce to hopefully wet their appetite to want to meet with him where he can even bring a specialist along.

Additional advice for Greenhorns:

  • Best way to double your business is with existing customers because the relationships are already in place and you know they pay their bills.
  • Block is relentless in selling more to each customer and not letting any items be taken away. He will fight for those items by going back and getting a deal by matching his resources.
  • He has a relationship with everyone in the front and back of the house because the cook, who has a lot of information on who they’re buying an item from and why, may be the one placing the order. Mark can see if he has the same item at a better price or get a deal with the manufacturer or a money saving idea through company resources to get more of their business.
  • Learn from veterans by asking questions, riding with them and getting advice. They are busy and maybe grumpy, but they will be flattered and help you out.
  • Work to earn trust and to take care of your customers by following up on what you said you would do.

This DSR of the Month stays motivated because he enjoys his work and really cares about his customers, treating them like friends outside of work too.

 DSRs, Be a Resource...and Sell Something!


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