Crystal Rock Water Co. Invests in driver training
Crystal Rock Water Co., a water and coffee service provider with 12 branches and 105 routes based in Watertown, Conn., recently recognized the need to strengthen route sales training to improve allied product sales. Dave Reckdenwald, operations manager, said the route sales people were frustrated that they weren’t selling more allied products. There were thousands of stock keeping units (SKUs) in the warehouse that weren’t moving.
The key challenge, noted Reckdenwald, is to instill in route sales people a way to communicate the value of their service. This is especially important during times such as the present, when customers are price conscious.
“We started opening up their (route sales people’s) eyes in how to talk to customers,” Reckdenwald said. “We created the mindset that the longer you can spend time with that customer, the more they will buy and the more commission you can make. It actually slows the guys down, but that’s a good thing. They’re not on a time clock.”
Crystal Rock Water decided to hire a corporate sales trainer to oversee allied product sales and customer service. Fred Vernic was hired last year. He brought 15 years experience working as a sales trainer and route sales trainer at a competitor.
Vernic noted that sales training should be ongoing, and that it helps to have a supervisor who acts like a coach. He rides with all of the route sales people periodically. “That helps when they know you’re willing to do that,” he said. Vernic knows this from first hand experience, since he was also once a route sales person.
The key to successful allied product sales is for the route sales person to look carefully at the break area, Vernic noted.
In his first training session with the route sales people, he placed dollar bills underneath products in a room filled with boxes of allied products positioned throughout the room to convey the message that money is hidden throughout the customer location.
“I had money hidden all throughout the boxes through the entire display,” he said.
Motivation is a big part of the job, Vernic noted. To build morale, he has held contests. Teams vie to win the most points. Winning teams are awarded gasoline cards and
other prizes. The winning team also gets a trophy cup to display in its warehouse, while the losing team gets a cup that features a horse’s buttocks. “They have that competitive feel,” he said of the contests.
Teams are updated weekly on their performance.
The training has paid off at Crystal Rock Water. “It’s an awareness of what’s out there,” Vernic said. “Letting them (the customers) know what you actually have.”
This past April, Crystal Rock Water set a record for allied product sales.