|Years as a DSR||12|
|Annual sales volume||$4.4 million|
|No. of active accounts||9|
|Type of accounts||Casual steakhouses, fine dining, casual dining, country clubs|
|Biggest attributes||Showing up prepared|
|Best tools/support||Center-of-the-plate specialist, other DSRs|
|Favorite category||Fresh proteins|
|Learned the hard way||Do not price out 200-line-item order guide after one or two sales calls|
|Never||Don’t get caught up in minutiae|
|Best thing about being a DSR||Grow your business long with successful operators as they grow|
|Top trends seeing||Looking for value protein that has quality|
|Mojo Motto||Show up!|
DSR of the Month
For Jim Bibb, every week is a balancing act. But he thrives on it. He is a DSR (distributor sales rep) at Mattingly Foods in Louisville, Ky. and also acts as sales manager. It takes a lot of attention to time management to keep his customers happy and, simultaneously, stay on top of the company’s overall sales effort. While it takes time and planning, Bibb has experience on the operator side of the business and the hours and stress are far greater there, he says.
Bibb “grew up in the fast food business.” He ran a Burger King in Lexington when he was only 19. Following that, he spent another ten years with Long John Silver’s and Cracker Barrel. Then he entered the catering business. He says this experience was the best preparation for becoming a DSR in terms of product knowledge and familiarity with a wide range of foodservice events.
When his sixth child was on the way, Bibb decided to switch careers to a job that would allow him to be home at a decent hour at night. “I needed to get out of that crazy schedule and improve my quality of life,” he explains. He became a sales rep for two of the large distributors before coming to Mattingly three years ago.
Bibb sees his customers face to face at least once a week and keeps in touch with them by phone or email the rest of the time. He encourages his customers to do online ordering so he can spend face time sampling and discussing menu changes and specials. He spends “a lot of time” prospecting and looking for account penetration opportunities. He teams up with the other reps in this process. “This allows us to utilize the strengths of reps in pursuing new business,” he says. “It provides a learning opportunity to the reps who need development in product knowledge or sales techniques.”
Product knowledge is also gained though sales meetings held every two weeks. They rely on manufacturer reps who “know their products inside and out.” Bibb says they are in constant touch with them and with brokers to be able to bring new ideas to customers. There is also a “fantastic resource” in the form of a DSR who has a southern territory and brings back new ideas from his accounts.
Mattingly recently purchased two meat cutting facilities, giving them a real competitive edge in the fresh protein category, which is Bibb’s favorite to sell. There is also a center-of-the-plate specialist who works with the sales team to keep customers educated on the variety of cuts. Bibb says, given recent market conditions, operators are looking for good value cuts to menu that retain the quality necessary to satisfy diners.
The words that Bibb lives by are “show up.” This means keeping in touch, either face to face or electronically, all the time. He also means to show up in person prepared to provide solutions. “You have to turn into the lot and make the call,” he says, whether it is an existing customer or a new prospect.
“There is no one who works harder than Jim,” says John Thomas, general manager. “If we could only clone him! He cares about his customers and they know it, which is why they are so loyal to him.” He says that Bibb has great relationships with the other reps and is excited about being sales manager and able to work with them. Although he initially had to talk Bibb into his dual role, “the formula has worked,” he says. “We have a great team and we’re excited about 2014.”
Written by Caroline Perkins, author of Customer Care & Feeding: The Ultimate B2B Selling Strategy. Visit www.customercareandfeeding.com