It gives you instant access to the local market and an opportunity to grow sales. Isn’t that what it’s all about? 

Unfortunately, “work-withs” are not always as productive as you’d like them to be… 

You may go to the wrong type of account, or one that’s too small, or sit in front of a non-decision-making person. This is not only frustrating, but a poor return on investment. In order to avoid these pitfalls, focus on the 3 Ways to Maximize Work-With ROI: 

Provide Ample Advanced Notice

The hardest part in scheduling ride-withs is getting customers to say “yes” to meet with the person you have visiting the market. Chefs especially are very busy professionals. There are multiple meals and a staff they oversee, making time a precious commodity. 

With that said, to get more value out of your ride-withs, I recommend providing at least 4 weeks advance notice before your trip. Lay out the days you would like to work the market and understand that much of the work-with schedule will formalize a week prior to your trip. This advanced notice will provide your broker or distributor team the latitude and space to set up a productive trip. 

It does happen when you want to visit a market and only provide a week or two in advance. This is recipe for a low return trip. It puts a lot of stress on your sales force to corral enough quality customers together to make a productive visit. I would highly advise against this. 

Get More People Selling on Your Behalf 

You can only be in one place at one time. That is not scalable. But what is scalable, is teaching others how to confidently sell on your behalf when you’re not there.  

When you make those market visits, don’t pigeonhole yourself in to working with just one broker rep or one DSR. Multiple your efforts. It may mean making a customer call or two less, but meeting with more salespeople who can sell on your behalf has an immediate return on effort. Take them to meal or meet them at a hotel or their office. The more collaboration you can have with people that are customer facing in a certain market, the more you can comfortably feel that your brand is in good hands. 

Focus on Strategic Accounts ONLY 

Prior to making a market visit, it’s best practice to hold an informal meeting with your in-market sales team to review mutual expectations for the trip. The trip must drive value for all parties involved so pre-empted communication will go along way. 

When it comes to your market visit, focus on more with less. It’s stressful when Regional Managers enter the market and request an unrealistic number of calls as opposed to 2 or 3 Strategic Accounts per day.  

At Portillo Sales & Marketing, we do receive requests to see 6-7 customers in a day. Without context, that may appear as a reasonable ask, yet when you factor in presentation and drive time, it’s not as clear cut. Anybody can cram 6 single-unit restaurants together because the owner operator is typically at the business every day, but when they agree to purchase a case or 2 per week, was that worth anyone’s time? 

I recently wrote an article on What I Wish I Knew on My First Day in Foodservice, and in it, I linked a free resource on how to classify Strategic Accounts by segment. I challenge you to stick to this Strategic Account Classification Guide and focus your energy on the top opportunities. Again, more with less.  

The cost of travel is not going down, rather consistently rising. As foodservice sales professionals, our days are unpredictable and filled with tasks that take us in every direction. It’s important that when you make the time to visit a market, that you focus on the 3 Ways to Maximize Work-With ROI. 

The very best, 
Nick Portillo 

 P.S., in case you missed it, make sure to check out my last article on The Ultimate Guide to Food Broker Onboarding. 

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