Existing Route Drivers Can Learn Selling Mindset, Basic Skills

by Len Rashkin
Posted On: 1/1/2018

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Last month's article was an introduction to the importance of hiring not just a route driver, but rather a "sales route driver." Also covered was a method for introducing your existing drivers to all the positive reasons for them to learn the basics of familiarizing their customers with the wide array of products and services that your OCS has to offer.

This article will describe a simple approach to teaching your (soon to be) sales route drivers how to sell additional products and services.

Plan a three-hour meeting for a Saturday morning when all your drivers can attend. Have a simple breakfast ready. You may also want to have some entertainment and refreshments for the children and spouses of your staff. Award prizes to those drivers who show the most enthusiasm and participation.

Let's start with a basic understanding of a very important question: "whose customer is it?" The bottom line here is that your sales route drivers must understand that every one of your business's customers  is the customer of all your employees. If there are no customers, there are no jobs. If you don't take care of your customer, someone else (your competition) will.

Once you're sure your drivers understand this essential truth, they can be given some simple examples of introducing products the wrong way and the right way to their customers. Simply asking "how about some hot cocoa, tea or soup?" is boring and ineffective.

It's much better to paint a picture in the customer's mind in order  to encourage product sales. Say "it's freezing outside. How about a delicious cup of creamy hot cocoa or a tasty cup of soothing chicken noodle soup with saltines?" This is exciting and much more effective.

Other examples are, "it's real hot today. We can provide you with ice-cold Nestea iced tea, as well as a wide variety of ice-cold refreshing Coke or Pepsi beverages." And, of course, ask "what flavors would you like?"

Invite your audience to suggest as many adjectives as they can think of to best describe the items on a long list of your products and services. Put a good assortment of your snacks, drinks, janitorial supplies, paper products and other menu items on a display for everyone to see. Go around the room and ask each driver to use an adjective in a sentence that describes one of the products displayed. Examples: Mouth-watering (Oreos), delicious (Cup-a-Soup), creamy (hot chocolate), warm, hot, tasty, smooth, brisk (tea), robust (coffee), flavorful, refreshing, ice-cold (iced tea), cooling, sweet, yummy, outstanding, pure, healthy (juices), soothing, stomach-warming (hot cider), nutritional (fruit bars), uplifting, etc.

The next thing to introduce is a simple technique called "bridging," which is a term that I coined many years ago to train my customer service telephone reps and drivers. Simply, "bridging" is linking one product to another product. One product has something in common with another product, or calls the other one to mind.

Have your drivers connect such affiliated products as:

Coffee: decaf, flavored espresso, tea, stirrers, spoons, milk, creamer, sugar, sweeteners, cups and lids, coffee pot cleaner, pot scrubbers – and water.

Cold beverages: soft drinks, iced teas and juices, cold cups and lids, straws, plastic bags (to recycle cans), chips, cookies, candy.

Soups and hot chocolate: hot paper cups and lids, bowls, spoons, napkins, salt, crackers, cookies.

Health & Toiletries: Advil, aspirin, Band-Aids, ointments, bandages, antiseptic hand cleaners, first aid kits. Note that everyone should know that the government's OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Act) requires all employers to have first aid kits and eyewashes in work area environment).

Water coolers: Filters, cups, flavorings, single-serve decaf coffee, iced teas, soups, cider and other soluble beverages.

Microwave Ovens:
Popcorn, paper plates, napkins, paper towels, cleaners, spoons, forks, knives.

Refrigerators: Cold canned beverages, single-serve packets of mayonnaise, ketchup and mustard, plastic wrap, aluminum foil, paper towels, plates, napkins, utensils, cleaners, trash bags and more.

There is a lot more to route driver sales than what's described above, but this is a good start. Set up an incentive program to kick off sales among your now-educated drivers. The key to all sales is to compensate those who make that extra effort to sell products and services. If you are a large company and have many drivers, design team incentives with prizes for the winners.

Incentives could be based on products or services that have not been ordered in the past 12 months. I would not pay your sales route drivers commissions on an on-going basis for re-orders, but rather, to compensate them for making the initial sale. It is not uncommon to award 15%-25% on that first order.

Finally, make your drivers feel important, which includes giving them business cards imprinted with their names and pictures. This is a tremendous morale-booster for them.

I can be reached at (516) 241-4883 or by email at OCSconsultant@aol.com if you have any questions about this article or future topics that you want me to cover.
I wish all of you and your families a very healthy and happy holiday and new year!