Adapting to the Evolving Sales Approach in Food Service Distribution

Dave Foreman

The very hands-on, personal approach to food distribution sales has been evolving with emerging technology over time, but has been tested in new ways in 2020 due to the pandemic and the many changes in the way people everywhere are working. Distributor sales reps are moving from order-taking to a more consultative approach and current events have accelerated that trend.

In the opening general session at the IFDA Distribution Solutions Conference Direct, President and CEO of the National Restaurant Association, Tom Bené, shared some of his thoughts on the evolution of the food service distribution sales approach:

“I think many of these things were already starting to move down that path and not because that selling resource wasn’t adding value, because I’m a big believer that those resources have for years and that’s why it’s so important in the industry and probably why it’s continued as long as it has. Those selling resources were adding value to the operators.”

“Just like now, operators need help. They’re needing insights, they’re needing information, they’re needing support and new ideas, so I think that creativity creates that environment for that connection to work.”

“Whether it’s remotely through a phone or other technology, or it’s in person, the reality is that it’s the support that is needed. I think that’s what has forever been so important between the operator and distributor. I don’t think there’s an operator out there who doesn’t value that insight and support and connection that happens between the distributor sales-person and themselves.”

In response to this, IFDA President & CEO Mark Allen said, “there have been a lot of studies that will project the demise of the sales rep but I think they’ve been overblown because this is still a relationship business and those relationships matter. There’s a lot of value in having those relationships.”

Bené agreed saying:

“The insights alone – when you think about the value that someone can bring to an operator who might not be thinking about everything or have access to all of the information or insights that someone at a distributor might have. I think that that is very powerful. Anybody who is open to new ideas, which I believe most of this industry is, there’s value to be created.”

A key piece of technology in enabling food distribution sales people to create value for customers in Prime FoodService Software is the order management functionality, specifically the Order Guides.

Prime FoodServices’ Order Guides enable faster order entry and prompt up-sell and cross-sell opportunities so that sales reps can quickly offer new product ideas to customers on the fly. Order Guides can also alert sales people when a customer hasn’t purchased a typical item within a given timeframe, so they can proactively reach out before substantial business is lost.

To learn more about how Prime FoodService empowers food distribution sales people to exceed evolving expectations, contact us today for a demo.