|Years as a DSR||20|
|Annual sales volume||$2.2 million|
|No. of active accounts||40|
|Type of accounts||Independents|
|Territory||7 counties in Central Florida|
|Biggest attributes||Building accounts based on customers’ need|
|Best tools/support||Internet, manufacturer Web sites, buyers and brokers|
|Learned the hard way||The value of listening|
|Always||Be on time with something to offer|
|Never||Don’t talk a lot|
|Best thing about being a DSR||Helping customers become a success|
|Worst thing||Seeing customers who can’t keep up with the times go out of business|
|Top trends seeing||Fresher, healthier items and going green|
|Mojo Motto||Always have a great day and smile a lot.|
DSR of the Month
How does Paul Body help customers improve their business? He plays detective. Body (rhymes with “roadie”), sales rep at Florida Food Service, sits in the corner of a customer’s dining room and watches and listens. He pays attention to servers as well as customers and is able to spot issues or opportunities as they arise. He gives the operator a report on what he saw that worked and what didn’t, making recommendations on what to change to make the business more profitable.
He learned the hard way that listening is a key to customer service. Early on, he was trying to secure an account and didn’t listen to the operator’s needs. “I only focused on what I wanted to sell him. I didn’t get the account,” he explains.
Body, with 20 years as a distributor sale rep (DSR) under his belt, has a lot of experience to draw from. “I remember when you used to get change from a dollar at McDonald’s,” he reminisces. He has served many of his customers for 15 years or more. “I help them stay in business,” he says. “We’re more like partners.” He specializes in building accounts based on the customers’ specific needs. He works with operators to develop menus, using the company’s food cost analysis tool as an aid.
Body’s favorite category to sell is produce. He loves the wide variety – and the profitability. Produce fits into the trend for fresher and healthier menu items that he sees with his customer base. He stays up to date on product knowledge for all categories by researching new items he hears about and calling manufacturers to inquire. He also relies on the company’s buyers and brokers for product information.
While Body has 40 customers, he is constantly prospecting for more. Yet he still finds time for training and mentoring new DSRs. He counsels them to be on time and to be ready each visit with something to offer customers. He also cautions them not to talk a lot, especially about the competition. In fact, he says, don’t even mention competitors.
Florida Food Service is based in Gainesville. Body’s territory surrounding the city is primarily rural. His customers are used to the basics, such as making everything from scratch. It took a while but he has introduced them to pre-cooked items such as prime rib. Initially suspect, they eventually saw the advantages of labor-saving products as a solution to hiring difficulties. Body says that finding staff that can prepare food well and create an attractive plate presentation is a problem.
Body likes to see his customers succeed. In fact, the worst thing about being a DSR is seeing a customer go out of business. “If they can’t change with the times, they get behind and can’t recover,” he says. He works hard not only to keep them in business but to help them be profitable.
Written by Caroline Perkins, author of Customer Care & Feeding: The Ultimate B2B Selling Strategy. Visit www.customercareandfeeding.com