Canadian Electrical Wholesaler

Improving Electrical Sales CallsBy David Gordon

There are really only two ways to increase sales: sell to new customers or sell more products to existing customers. Both require that distributor sales management and salespeople more effectively evaluate their customers, and identify new opportunities and manufacturers’ salespeople (direct and reps).

Marketplace competitiveness requires a back-to-basics sales approach that differentiates you, especially in light of the movement to more e-communications/e-commerce. No longer will “let’s see what today or this week brings” succeed. Planning and applying basic selling skills are the order of the day, so ask yourself these eight questions:
•    Why am I calling on this account?
•    What products is he/she not buying from me?
•    How can I find out what application problems they are experiencing?
•    Are there safety, code, labour saving or energy products I can sell them?
•    How can I bring value to new customers?
•    What resources do I and my company have to effectively cultivate new orders?
•    What types of projects/companies does my customer (contractor) work with?
•    What are my customer’s and his customers’ issues? Or for industrial or institutional accounts, what are their business initiatives and how can I help?

The question becomes, are you and perhaps more importantly your salespeople thinking this way?

One way to effectively increase sales is through joint sales calls. A time-tested strategy that requires some trust among channel partners but can be improved by planning. And it converts your salespeople from customer service resources (or order takers) to demand generators, hence increasing their value to the customer.

Yes, we know the horror stories and the issue of “Do I trust the rep?” But can you afford not to conduct joint sales calls with your key suppliers? What happens if “your” customer hears of a product from someone else (e.g., the Internet, direct from the manufacturer, a competitor)? What happens when the niche products that they need are presented by someone else? Or consider how many times your customer wants to hear, “Do you have an order for me?”

Effectively planned joint sales calls with objectives can be a very productive tool. The problem has always been setting expectations, pre-planning and follow-up. Here is where the sales or the marketing manager comes into play.

First, conduct a review of targeted accounts to determine, by generic or manufacturer product group, what each customer purchases. This product mix report is your key to selling something “new” (either a product category or a specific item) to existing customers. With this in hand, an examination of the data will reveal opportunities. Inviting the manufacturer’s sales rep for the product line to review the opportunities will further prune the list so there are no conflicts if the manufacturer is already getting the business (while also revealing interesting competitive insights to you).

Second, determine which products, new or existing, should be presented to each targeted customer. Products that support application solutions and are profitable are the best picks.

Third, motivation is key. To maximize effectiveness, consider an incentive for the distributor salesperson that rewards for activity (number of calls) and effectiveness (sales achievements). Joint calls require a lot of work. For the distributor’s and manufacturer’s salespeople, a reward is extremely important for success. Ideas that we’ve seen work include:
•    spiffs
•    promotions/contests, which may include non-cash rewards and gift certificates
•    double or triple commission on specific products for a defined time period
•    tickets to a special event (sport or concert)
•    having the president/sales manager wash both salespeople’s car

Another key element is motivating the customer. While visibility is good, sales are better. To encourage customers, consider answering their WIIFM (what’s in it for me). Non-pricing strategies can help preserve long-term profitability. But remember, not every customer needs the presented product today. Extend customer purchasing benefits for 30-60 days. Experience has shown that you need to plant seeds for sales to grow.

And while the distributor benefits from increased sales as well as many intangible benefits, capturing the business frequently requires having sufficient inventory to support the desired (expected?) demand. Manufacturers: make it appealing for distributors to have more inventory at the point of influence (in the branch/CDC). Consider extended dating, sales guarantees with no-restocking fee for 6 months, competitive stock buy-backs if necessary, SPAs, and more. Distributors: ensure you have the appropriate marketing collateral from the manufacturer. Typically, joint sales calls don’t happen in a vacuum. They are part of a concerted effort to grow specific product areas. An integrated sales and marketing approach is important as both reinforce the message.

And consider joint calls to engineers. They want to see product and are the influencers of what gets speced/purchased. Being their friend can generate significant sales as they frequently have purchasing authority.

Joint calls can be effective when planned, increase business, and add value to your customer relationships. With every distributor and customer seeking an edge, joint sales calls ensure that your customer hears from you and your manufacturer.

David Gordon is Principal of Channel Marketing Group, Raleigh, NC 27614; Tel: 919.488.8635919.488.8635; www.channelmkt.com.

 

OlsonBy Katrina Olson

A recent CEW article by David Gordon caught my eye. The headline was, Are Your Sales and Marketing Teams Inhibiting Growth?

As a marketing consultant, writer, and trainer, I recognized the challenges and barriers that David was writing about. We agree on many issues (and their causes) facing electrical distributors and marketers. But I also hear from marketing people all the time that the C-Suite is hindering their efforts which, in turn, hinders the company’s growth.  

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Study


A confirmation: the winds of change are now howling.

Several years ago, in a workshop at Electro-Federation Canada’s annual conference, a roundtable session described and debated the numerous disruptive technologies that are forcing us to think differently.

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Looking BackIn the 1930s to 1940s, CEDA’s Western Canada membership was very stable with old line independent companies like Horsman, Ashdowns, Brettell, Marshall Wells, Electrical Supplies Ltd., etc.

Small electrical distributors just were not acceptable for membership as they did not carry the main-line manufacturers’ goods, publish a wiring device catalogue, or employ four to five salesmen as CEDA requested.

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Changing Scene

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Flextherm Celebrates 25 Years With a Big Bang PHOTO: EIN-37/CEW-18-CS-Flextherm-400.jpg The floor ...
Electro-Federation Canada’s 6th Annual Future Forum, Thinking Smarter — Channel Products, Energy, ...
In partnership with Habitat for Humanity Québec, Convectair is donating two heating units ...
Do you know an industry member who has greatly contributed to the Canadian electrical industry and ...
Kendra Smith will be joining the company’s Nationals Accounts team as the Key Accounts ...
Blueway has been added as a division within Sonepar Ontario, reporting directly to Sonepar Ontario ...
Pilz Canada has added Marcus Graham to its family. Marcus is now serving a wide base of customers ...
Christopher Balleine has been appointed Stelpro’s Sales Representative, Maritimes, ...
Based in Ottawa, Lafontaine will be responsible for building on Schneider Electric’s ...
Bill Smith from Electrozad Supply Company Limited has been selected as this year’s recipient ...

Peers & Profiles

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Sales of electrical supplies from full-line electrical distributors capture the geographic ...
I've known John Sencich since CEW began publishing. He agreed from the outset to be part of the ...
Laura Dempsey has been working as an outside sales representative for E.B. Horsman & Son for ...
Michael Gentile, President and CEO of Philips Lighting Canada, has had a long and distinguished ...
Gordon MacDonald is a cheerful, driven individual who loves to be challenged, a trait that suits ...
  Jordan Prins is an account manager at Wesco Distribution in Abbotsford, British Columbia. ...
Mike Marsh, President and CEO of SaskPower, has been a leading figure in Saskatchewan’s electricity ...
I didn’t wake up one day and go, “I want to work for my dad!” Actually, it was ...
    Ouellet Canada is celebrating 50 years in the Electrical Heating ...
  On February 27th Lumen opened their 36th branch in Ottawa, Ontario. ...

Laura Dempsey

Owen Hurst

Laura Dempsey has been working as an outside sales representative for E.B. Horsman & Son for over 15 years, and is a member of the BCEA U40 network of young professionals. She lives in Langley, BC and is proud of her position and work with E.B. Horsman, particularly as she is the second Dempsey generation to work for the company.

Laura’s mother Shelly has worked at E.B. Horsman for over 25 years, and instilled in Laura a determination to succeed. Laura followed in her mother’s footsteps after witnessing how much her mother enjoyed her work and the people she works with at E.B. Horsman.

Read more: Laura Dempsey

Laura Dempsey

Line Goyette

I've known John Sencich since CEW began publishing. He agreed from the outset to be part of the newsletter’s Editorial Board. His contribution was regular and sustained. Always present to answer my technical questions, and refer me to the right person for additional information as needed. Always available despite his role as senior leader of an influential company.

Over the past five years, many industry insiders have cited John Sencich when I asked them to name someone who had made a difference in their lives or had inspired them as a leader.

Read more: John Sencich

Looking Back

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  As 2017 marks the 150th anniversary of Confederation, we take a look back at an aspect of ...
The resource-based industries of the Maritimes are looking to electronics to make their operations ...
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  The public’s strong interest in energy-saving products should continue in the ...
  Even in a principally agricultural province like Saskatchewan, the impact of electronics ...
Electrical distribution companies operating in British Columbia will continue to get larger while ...
Golden anniversaries are celebrated by the mature, and our industry is allowed to celebrate ...
The last 50 years have been exciting ones for the electrical industry but they won’t compare to ...
The ceiling that had been placed on membership fees remained a point of contention among ...
The year 1982 started on a relatively good note for electrical distributors. Sales in the first ...

DIgitalDigitalization is set to take a strong hold of all business models, transforming how companies access, monitor, engage with and service customers. Today’s customers are not passive consumers; they rely on real-time digital access to information to make purchasing decisions. Businesses must consider how to apply digital technologies and digitized data to connect with customers to help reshape their paths to purchase. This digital lens provides improvements to business functions, operations and overall processes by creating stronger insight and knowledge so businesses can take action.

The path towards digitalization has put the electrical supply channel at an important crossroad: the entire electrical value chain (suppliers, manufacturers, distributors, customers) will need to strongly consider how to move from a traditional model that has served the market well for decades, towards a new model that is connected, smart and highly efficient. But how does the industry evolve from a traditional model to an integrated ecosystem?

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EFC 2018 Scholarship Program

This year Electro-Federation Canada (EFC) will award $156,250 across 62 scholarships supported by manufacturers, distributors and associations.

The annual EFC Scholarship Program reflects an industry that understands its responsibility to attract future talent. In the face of technological, demographic, and socio-economic evolution, the employment landscape is in constant transformation resulting in substantial challenges for companies as they work to define and redefine their recruitment practices. Furthermore, as competition for the brightest and the best of the next generation of business leaders intensifies, it’s more important than ever to engage young people. 

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