Conference Programs Designed to Engage Distributors and Dealers Around Shared Challenges

Every business and organization has its own particular way of operating and approach to the market that makes it distinct among its peers. Even so, there are some common challenges that every foodservice equipment distributor and dealer face. The LEARN Sessions at the 2020 FEDA Annual Conference will allow attendees to share their experiences and discuss ways that they can overcome those common challenges, while also learning valuable skills from professional trainers and experienced leaders.

The three sessions will explore topics critical to foodservice equipment distributors and dealers: how to elevate client relationships to turn customers into advocates for your business; identifying the traits of the overperforming salesperson and how to instill these in your team; and how distributors can work with channel partners to enhance problem-solving discussions on behalf of the operator.

FEDA members attending these sessions will not only be armed with new knowledge and actionable insights – they’ll also receive credit toward the corresponding FEDA Skills Certification. Each presentation will allow time for small and large group discussions, audience questions, and other engagement.

Mapping the Client Experience from Discovery to Lifelong Advocate
Lindsay Goetting, vice president of sales and marketing at Corporate Strategies and Solutions, a Sandler Training Center

Many businesses pride themselves on putting out fires – their ability to solve problems as they arise. However, as Lindsay Goetting, vice president of sales and marketing at Corporate Strategies and Solutions, a Sandler Training Center, points out, it’s better if things don’t go up in flames in the first place. “A lot of time, we claim it’s a badge of honor to say, ‘We’re such good problem solvers,’” she says. “But really, it’s better to be proactive and institutionalize the client experience. No one likes firefighting mode.”

Heading off those problems instead of reacting to them is an example of how organizations can create positive outcomes during critical moments in their customer interactions. In her LEARN Session, Goetting will cover several examples of those critical moments and discuss how they feed into the overall distributor-operator relationship. “Recognizing and understanding those moments will help you address areas of concern or gaps,” she explains.

The best customers are the ones that not only consistently purchase from your company, but advocate on your behalf and refer your business to others. It’s not a relationship that happens suddenly. It takes time to build trust, benchmark expectations, and expand together. Goetting’s presentation will map the client journey — from before the initial interaction to becoming a loyal customer — in a way that organizations can understand and then replicate.

Maintaining those longstanding client relationships has become more important than ever for distributors and dealers. The abundance of readily accessible online stores and direct sales from manufacturers has made it all too easy for customers to hop from seller to seller. And replacing those sales is increasingly expensive: According to Goetting, it typically costs a business 10 times more to obtain a new client than to keep an existing one. As a result, it’s a valuable goal to elevate customer relationships from transactional to super fans.

“If you are on the ball, over-communicating, and ensuring those needs are met, people will want to work with you and become your advocates,” Goetting says. “Creating those fans will not only stay with us but give us those trusted recommendations and referrals that are so important to business growth.”

The Overperforming Salesperson: Traditional Sales Re-Engineered
Rich Austin, senior partner at Corporate Strategies and Solutions, a Sandler Training Center

Salespeople are known for going with their gut. The image of the savvy salesman or saleswoman who instinctively knows just what to say to close a deal has persisted for decades. That kind of insight seems to come naturally to salespeople and there’s data backing it up. According to psychological behavioral studies from Sandler Training, 87 percent of salespeople have a higher-than-normal need for approval. “Their ultimate goal, whether consciously or subconsciously, is to be liked,” says Rich Austin, senior partner at Corporate Strategies and Solutions, a Sandler Training Center.

Despite the stereotype, Austin says, that desire to be liked is not inherent to an overperforming salesperson — those who meet or exceed 120 percent of their revenue goals. Rather, he explains, it’s more important that they follow a good process: one that includes setting expectations, listening twice as much as they speak, and asking questions that prompt the client to think in new ways. “We have to understand the psychology behind getting someone to no longer want to be liked, but to be respected,” Austin notes.

During his session, Austin will explore the characteristics and common approaches found in overperforming salespeople, and discuss how distributors and dealers can use that information to guide their own sales teams. Among the topics he’ll focus on is the hunter’s mentality: the percentage of time a salesperson devotes to finding new business. Top performers tend to spend 65 percent of their time hunting, while middle performers devote only 30 percent of their day. Bottom performers, meanwhile, only spend 5 to 15 percent of their time looking for new business, Austin says.

From the clients’ perspective, Austin says, there are five levels that a salesperson and their company are slotted into: vendor, problem solver, consultant, partner, and advisor. Most companies fall into the first two categories and they can be easily replaced as the need arrives. Through his presentation, Austin will show distributors and dealers how they can move into the top two levels — partner and advisor — and become indispensable to their customers.

Operator Problem-Solving Discussions Between Distributor, Manufacturer, and Service Professionals
Michael Keck, FEDA vice chairman and president of Concept Services

At the last FEDA Annual Conference, Michael Keck, FEDA vice chairman and president of Concept Services; Drew O’Quinn, vice president of Thompson & Little; and John Schwindt, president of CFESA, set in motion a conversation about improving communication and understanding between channel partners that has dominated much of 2019. Since then he has appeared at the CFESA Conference alongside representatives of CFESA, NAFEM, MAFSI, and FCSI to discuss the friction that can arise between their respective memberships. Additionally, Keck is scheduled share the stage with Schwindt at the MAFSI conference in January to continue the discussion centered around service – and how companies can better work together to serve operators.

That conversation will continue at the 2020 FEDA Annual Conference this March as Keck proposes communication guidelines that will define a common nomenclature to help channel partners better coordinate projects and understand each other’s business challenges. The goal is to update FEDA members on the progress made so far, and to leave the conference with actionable ideas that companies from all five channels within the foodservice equipment and supplies industry can implement.

“We want to build off the momentum that we have across the five channels and continue to garner interest from the individual members of NAFEM, MAFSI, FCSI, CFESA, and FEDA,” Keck says. “If we’re getting momentum and some wins, people will want to be a part of this winning team.”

The session will follow a similar format to last year’s peer exchange discussion, with small group discussions followed by a larger sharing of ideas. Keck is hopeful the session will inspire others to become involved and carry the idea through: “This is something that has to take hold at the individual organization level in order to take hold and sustain itself,” he says.

The Digital Tools of Overperforming Salespeople

In addition to discussing the processes used by top salespeople, Rich Austin will address many of the digital tools they use to drive that success. Those tools include:

LinkedIn: Building pipelines for sales, hiring, strategic partnerships, and research through a peer-to-peer digital network.

Salesforce/CRM: Organization, optimization, communication of sales activities to build a pipeline and close business more efficiently.

DiSC: Understanding your communication and learning style, as well as others’ so a salesperson can customize their message directly to the prospect’s preferred style.

Devine Inventory: Understanding the psychological anchors that prohibit sales behavioral success.

Crystal: Leveraging AI to reveal your prospect’s DiSC style through analyzing their LinkedIn profile.

Trello: Creating simple dashboards for sales activity that measures progress toward goals.

Evernote: Creating buyer personas that you can customize with critical information to drive the sales process forward.

Connect & Sell: An AI tool taking the gatekeeper out of phone prospecting and connects salespeople directly to decision-makers.

Sales Accountability: Driving sales success through the gamification of prospecting for new business.