As broker and manufacture reps, the pressure can sometimes be overwhelming. We have quotas and KPI’s that are important to hit so that our companies can keep the lights on.

I know what the pressure feels like. I live in the biggest foodservice market in the country… California has the largest population in the country, is the 6th largest economy in the world, and has a population base that is more open to trendier cuisines. When foodservice sales leadership draw up their yearly KPI’s, California is literally the perfect place – in theory – to increase sales and introduce new innovations.

Activity vs Productivity

When I first began in the Foodservice Industry, I would walk up and down Pacific Coast Highway knocking on small café doors. I was gaining experience, but my sales barely grew.

I once asked a foodservice sales manager, “what’s the biggest mistake your brokers and direct sales reports make?” He told me: “When they confuse activity with productivity.”

In a world controlled by the CRM, we have been conditioned to be an activity-based versus objective-based minded industry.


The biggest mistake we make as foodservice salespeople is calling on the WRONG ACCOUNTS. Think of the #1 salesperson you know in foodservice… That person is probably not calling on the wrong accounts! Calling on the wrong accounts in foodservice is way too commonplace, and yet, we waste our time, energy, and financial resources on low impact opportunities.

How to Find the RIGHT Accounts for you:

So… HOW do I know if I am calling on the RIGHT accounts?

In sales, our daily activities have an opportunity cost. If we’re out making a product cutting at a 1-unit café who may buy 2 cases per week, is that the best use of our time? The key to growing sales with the same amount of effort: Call on BETTER accounts!

At Portillo Sales & Marketing, we are constantly reinforcing the importance of having relationships with what we call, “Strategic Accounts.” Everything we do is around Strategic Accounts… These are customers who can move the needle!

Foodservice sales are predicted on what distribution will stock… If that account you’re calling on doesn’t influence a buying a decision at the distributor, you have a long road ahead of you.

We’ve created a free downloadable, Strategic Account Classification Guide that categorizes every operator segment and ranks the accounts within them by size. Review the customers you are currently working on and see where they land on the grid.

How the Strategic Account Classification Guide Works?

If you’re the person already putting 80%+ of your time against Strategic Accounts, then double down on that and keep going. However, if your sales are flat or sluggish, you may be too heavily weighted in the “C” Account territory. Just aim a tad bit higher.

The Strategic Account Classification Guide breaks down accounts into the following:

  1. Strategic Accounts: These are accounts that MOVE the freakin’ needle!
  2. “B” Accounts: Medium size accounts.
  3. “C” Accounts: These are the ones that don’t purchase much. In distribution, these are the highest margin accounts, but for brokers and manufactures, these accounts are best added into your marketing funnel and not visited in person.

I have learned so many valuable lessons in this industry and calling on the RIGHT accounts can make all the difference in your sales.

What do you think?

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