1243: DSR of the Year, Grace Lee, Shamrock Foods
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AFDR’s 2018 DSR of the Year!
Shamrock Foods, Southern California Foods Branch
"I never give up on a prospect once I start working on them."
~ Grace Lee
Grace’s territory is in the San Diego, California area which is 80 miles south of the warehouse.
Before spending the last 21 years as a DSR, Grace really began her foodservice career years before while working with her parents in their Asian restaurant that they owned for 40 years. She got her start at a distributor by moving to Albuquerque to help her uncle’s friend, the Asian buyer and Asian salesperson for Zanio’s, as his assistant. Six months later, he left, and she inherited all his accounts and became a DSR and has flourished ever since. She began in Asian accounts and branched out into all other types of accounts, learning new products through sales meetings and food shows.
After her time at Zanio’s, she began working at Shamrock in Albuquerque where she built her territory to 6 ½ million before moving to San Diego with Shamrock to open up the California market.
For the first month and a half, she drove up and down every street, writing down every establishment to develop her prospect list. Then she began going into places and telling them “the Shamrock story” because they were unknown in that area.
Grace had earned the nickname, “Bulldog” because of her tenacity and never giving up on any account.
Tips on securing new accounts:
- She would check out their business to see if it’s breakfast, lunch and dinner
- She never gives up on an account and continues going into them one or two times a week at different times of the day with samples, price guides, and specials to entice them. It’s just not in her DNA to give up because she will always finish what she’s started.
She is famous at Shamrock for “dumpster diving.” She will do this to get accurate information on products they told her they use so she quotes accurately (red onion size—medium or large; chicken breast—4 or 6 oz). When she meets with the owner or chef, even though they might ask for a price guide at that first meeting, she takes it in the second or third meeting to have a reason to come back.
She talks to manufacturer reps and brokers on a weekly basis. She discusses how they can help her and themselves increase line items in each of her accounts, and if she’s confident they’re able to help her sell, she will let them go into her accounts freely. One of her favorite brokers, Donna, is great at samples and follow through and has great chemistry with her customers. Grace’s favorite manufacturer is General Mills because they get samples into her customers’ hands quickly. They answer nutritional questions for schools and healthcare facilities quickly on portion sizes, recipe ideas, pricing specs, and giveaways, plus they’re great on follow up calls too.
What works best when working with peers is to approach everyone as a team player. Her drivers are like her best friends because they are another set of eyes seeing her customers twice a week.
Quick tips for Greenhorns:
- Always ask questions when with veteran DSRs; there’s no such thing as a dumb question.
- Every salesperson has a different sales style, so take different aspects from all of those that you ride with to develop your own style.
- Treat everybody in the restaurant, from dishwasher in the back to hostess in the front, as someone really important and deserving of your respect because you never know when that dishwasher or hostess may end up being the one placing your order one day.
Tips for Veterans to stay motivated:
- Try not to let the previous day’s negativity way you down. There can be a lot of negativity in this business with shorts, mispicks, etc. Grace calms her customers down by telling them it will be okay and that she’ll run to the store and take care of it.
- Since she has the history, at night, Grace fills out every rebate coupon for her customers and has the envelop filled out with a stamp on it so all they must do is sign it.
- “I’m grateful every morning that I wake up and I don’t take anything for granted. I love my customers to death and appreciate all they do for me and hope they appreciate the same. I go out of the way to do a lot of stuff for my customers.”
Grace Lee believes in the Golden Rule:
“Treat everybody the way you want to be treated!”
And it works!!
Be a Resource and Sell Something!