When the word ‘sales person’ is used; it can conjure up so many perceptions. The first is typically a cringe. The stereo typical sales man. A person who will sugar coat anything you say, and make you promises of glory beyond your wildest imagination. Often mistrusted due to the nature of their game and valiantly held back by the industries finest gatekeepers.
I’ve seen the best and the worst in them; being one of ‘them’ myself. Industrial distribution puts me in touch with scores of customers, who I will simply refer to as ‘partners’ in this article. My partners are my bread and butter. They are my focus and the reason I am employed. Without them, my job simply doesn’t exist.
My scores of partners are a direct result of relationships I’ve built over the years. The best analogy I can use is to say they are like my children. They are the people I look out for and will always try to guide and protect from harm. My partners have to be successful in order for my success to continue. I need to ensure they are always getting the best financial return on the goods and service I’m bringing to the table. Sometimes this means negating a sale to refer them to a company independent of mine in order to make sure they have exactly what they need. I am not the best source for EVERYTHING and have no issue admitting that when I refer them to the best source. This is where I begin to differentiate from the stereotype.
There is no cookie cutter format we can use to truly identify each other on dating sites. The same holds true when describing a sales role in Industrial Distribution. If you ask me a generic question like “what do you sell?”. I have to answer with a question; being ‘It depends, where do you work and what do you produce?” Each unique person on a dating site finds such challenge in being connected with a person who fits their ‘what I want’ list. I face the exact same challenge in sales. I have criteria that my partners and manufacturers both must meet to be in my day to day world.
For me, the feelings have to be mutual. I want my partners and I both to enjoy our professional relationship. I want you to enjoy buying from me, and I want to enjoy selling to you. If I feel that our relationship is strained and we don’t enjoy working together; just like a dating scenario, we must find a way to understand one another and work on improving the relationship, or part ways. Mutual respect implies that I will always work in the best interest of both of us and I expect that my partner will also. When one of you gets greedy, selfish, or unreasonable; things fall apart- just like a dating type relationship would. This unravels to reveal many other mutually beneficial criteria such as trust, honesty, and independence.
So now we’re on to manufacturer Reps. These are people who work directly for one of the 10,000 manufacturers I represent every day. These are the people I need to weed out for sure. I have now become the proverbial gatekeeper for my partners.
Would you ever meet a blind date with your entire family for dinner? Would you have a blind date come over to meet your kids beforehand? I doubt it. And that’s why I won’t put a manufacturers rep in front of my kids (partners) before building a relationship first. It may sound like discrimination, but if you don’t pass my values test, you certainly aren’t meeting my kids (partners)!! I need my partners to trust that the manufacturer reps I bring to them, have been screened. They have a purpose in front of my partner to show them something innovative, show them a cost reduction, or educate them. All very important topics with my partners.
Because trust is such an important value to me in all aspects of life; I simply can’t get past being lied to. Even worse if you lie to my partners (as they are like my kids)!!! The old ‘shame on me once’ comes into play here. You will only do it once. I promise.
Some may think that I over analyze how I’m conducting business by weeding out the reps who I personally don’t feel ‘make the grade’. In any project the most crucial stage is the planning. We can all agree on that. When you are looking for a date you should plan on what you would like to have in a partner. Now it becomes much easier to look for a partner because you can weed out several who won’t fit your criteria. It is the same in sales! By weeding out the partners and Manufacturer reps who don’t fit with me; I now have days filled with partners and reps who are suited to my style of business.
Imagine working with partners and manufacturers every single day who are in line with your own values? Well that’s exactly what I get to do! So to make a long story short, this is why I’m always smiling.