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6 Ways Pepper Uses AI To Help Distributor Sales Reps Work Smarter

We love the AI excitement here at Pepper, but if there’s one thing we know for certain, it’s that distributor sales representatives (DSRs) are not going to be replaced with autonomous agents. Distributors are not merely transaction machines between suppliers and buyers, but are increasingly strategic partners that help buyers identify opportunities, suppliers, and ingredients that matter to their businesses. There’s a relational and human element to that that’s not going away.

That said, the great macro trend of this new AI era is this: specialist team members are becoming more efficient and more capable with AI as a tool—a very powerful one. This is true for distributor sales reps too.

Let’s take a quick look at some of the ways Pepper’s AI features (lovingly wrapped up in the ‘Casey’ AI assistant persona) help DSRs save time on manual back-and-forths, think more strategically for their clients, and ultimately drive business at greater speed.

Generate New Prospects With Datassential Data

Datassential is one of the industry’s most advanced food and beverage intelligence platforms, cataloging operator and food data for millions of F&B businesses around the world. 

That data is incredibly valuable to DSRs, who need to segment and contact potential clients at scale. So we partnered with Datassential to bring the platform’s power right into Casey.

DSRs can ask Casey to collect data on prospects from Datassential’s database and receive detailed reports in seconds, giving them the tools they need to target and reach out to prospects (without having to spend hours of research time).

Because inputting business data into a spreadsheet is not fun, or revenue generating—but focusing on building relationships with all of that background manual work completed for you is one of the most productive things a sales rep can do.

Create Mock Order Guides Based On Real-World Menus

Gone are the days of reading menus, logging (read: guessing) all of the ingredients, and tracking down prices to come up with a price sheet in an effort to woo prospects. 

We built a function where a DSR can tell Casey to scan a restaurant’s menu. Casey then matches the list of ingredients to the distributor’s inventory and builds a mock order guide in seconds. 

DSRs can then use that guide with the latest pricing to go into sales conversations armed with recent data.

Ask Casey Anything About Your Customers

Pepper centralizes huge amounts of data about your products and customers. Instead of working your way through the app and manually grabbing different bits of information, DSRs can talk to the Casey chat interface using natural language to learn all kinds of things that can inform how they communicate with and sell to clients.

You may ask Casey, “What is the average case cost for tomatoes?” to get a fast price estimate in a customer conversation. 

You may ask “Which customers are behind on their payments?” to get a quick list of all the accounts you need to start following up with. 

And you might ask “Which customers aren’t ordering their key items today?” to find accounts that are in the middle of an unexpected buying behavior so you can proactively reach out and see if they need help.

Casey is all your Pepper data at your fingertips, and we’re continually impressed at how cleverly DSRs are using the AI assistant to find and use data effectively in their day-to-day.

Smart Upsells and Substitutions That Make DSRs The Hero

Time delays between emails of customers asking about substitution or new product ideas directly correlates to lost revenue. Pepper’s smart substitutions and upsells give both customers and DSRs the tools to find good-fit items faster (like, way faster).

  • Smart Substitutions — When a customer prepares an order that includes an item of no or low inventory, Pepper can give them an on-screen alert that suggests substitutions based on similar items, or auto-send a notification post-order. This not only reclaims that potentially lost revenue, but eliminates calls from frustrated customers who found out they were shorted or subbed an improper item when the order arrives at their doorstep.
  • Upsell Notifications — Casey monitors a customer’s ordering behaviors and preferences and offers DSRs upsell suggestions from time to time. Perhaps a customer could be using a higher-quality fryer oil, or fresh fish instead of frozen. DSRs can acknowledge or save suggestions for later. The goal is to equip the DSR with relevant ideas to bring to the next person-to-person conversation.

Our sales promotional tools give DSRs the ability to help customers better and faster.

Customer Notifications Make DSRs Great Account Managers

Managing accounts is a different skill than sales repping, but it’s a critical part of the DSR role. Pepper uses the Casey AI to monitor customer accounts and look for two behavior changes that can give DSRs a leg up on keeping accounts engaged and right.

  • Churn Risk Notifications — Casey can spot subtle changes in buying patterns that DSRs might not know to look for, like small decreases in order value from week to week, or the elimination of a staple item or category from the regular order. Casey then alerts the DSR with a churn risk notification  so that they can proactively keep the account active.
  • Overdue Payment Notifications — All payments are managed through the app, but if a customer is overdue, both the DSR and the customer will get a gentle reminder through the Casey chat interface that they need to pay their bill. This gives DSRs the ability to be the advocate for the customer, rather than the bearer of potentially contentious news.

Distributor sales is still a relationship game, and these little tools go a long way in the fight toward preserving those key relationships.

All Your Food Product Data, Up-To-Date

Pepper has data-sharing partnerships with many major food manufacturers around the globe. We have millions of products in our database, all with updated nutritionals, ingredients, imagery, and descriptions. This database, which leverages Pepper AI to enhance distributor’s existing product content, was recently introduced as the Smart Attribute Library and Taxonomy, also referred to as SALT.

We use SALT to hook up our database to the distributor’s database and clean their product data. This gives our partners up-to-date product content and information in their Pepper apps, and helps DSRs and Casey access more data to make informed decisions on substitutions, upsells, and other sales opportunities. 

No more searching for key product details because data is missing or old—it’s all there.

Empower Your DSR Team With Pepper’s AI Features

Distributor sales reps are the lifeblood of any distributor. They’re the primary relationship that customers have with your company, the gateway to your world of products. And they already have it hard enough out there.

At Pepper, our goal is to make life easier for DSRs by giving them tools to serve their customers faster, and more efficiently. 

Can we show you how it all works live? Schedule a demo—we’d love to meet you.

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