Canadian Electrical Wholesaler

June 24, 2021

David GordonBy David Gordon

As we transition from the pandemic many wonder about the future of sales, meaning, “What will the sales process (sales model) look like in the future,” and, essentially, “What is the role of / for outside salespeople?”

In reality, this question was asked pre-pandemic as management lamented that Sales wasn’t being as productive as they desired. Companies are always seeking to improve their processes, whether it is having salespeople better penetrate accounts, identify and call on new customers, use a different (new?) sales method, or perhaps they sought to redesign the sales model with a different mix of outside and inside salespeople.

The sales results of many companies last year generated questions for many senior leaders. If sales (revenue) didn’t “collapse” when sales (people) couldn’t visit customers and “we” were forced to adapt, and “I” saved lots of money, “what is the value of sales / should I be selling differently?”

In reality, this

• diminishes the value of relationships built over time

• presumes the company is actually good in marketing and creating demand via marketing

• has a strong brand

• is desired by customers rather than being on “auto-order”

• has a strong operational model / is easy to do business with, and more

But it raises questions. Can selling be more efficient and respectful of resources? Is there a different mix of interactions that can deliver an acceptable sales and profitability return?

In reality, collectively we’re not going to go from the pre-pandemic sales model of “always” visiting customers to the pandemic sales model of “can’t” visit customers. We’ll go to a hybrid (although, now with vaccines many more have hopped back on planes and are being welcomed). One of the things we’ve heard from distributors and end-users that they liked about “virtual” is the ability for the technology to facilitate “update / transactional” interactions. They like the ability to control their day and expect the future to be a mix of live and virtual.

In his recent newsletter, Mark Roberts, from OTB Solutions, recently wrote about the future of sales and shared some statistics and predictions.

Statistics

From McKinsey:

• 70%-80% of B2B decision-makers prefer digital and virtual human interactions

• 77% of B2B decision-makers prefer video (Zoom, Teams) to a phone call with new suppliers

• 89% of B2B decision-makers said the likelihood of virtual human interactions will continue

And, based on research Mark conducted with one of his clients, over 63% of their clients preferred virtual sales to face to face.

The reasons for virtual sales engagement included

• more efficient (for both parties!)

• reduced cost of sales

• improved customer experience

Mark predicts, and no surprise, that the future will be a hybrid sales model. The challenge with evolving to this, based on his experience, and many sales managers and senior management can attest, is that a majority of salespeople struggle with selling virtually (as do many companies in marketing to create and nurture demand, let alone follow-up and connecting with decision-influencers.) And yes, Mark helps with this.

Questions to consider

It then begs some questions of:

• What to do with existing, long-tenured, salespeople who have much product experience (hopefully) but may be sales technology “challenged”?

• How are compensation models changed / evolved?

• What does change due to culture when “mature” salespeople with high compensation who have been loyal are impacted?

• Does your company (i.e. your salespeople) know how to prospect for new accounts or penetrate diamonds in the rough?

• Do manufacturers with a direct salesforce feel that they can gain share of distributor mind if they are not calling on the distributor? Can the model be supplanted by marketing and inside sales / business development? Are manufacturers willing to invest in customer service roles?

• Will contractors respond to outbound calling from a business development / inside sales group? To eMarketing efforts?

• As a distributor, or manufacturer, have you invested in the marketing tools (database tools) to know who customers are and how to contact them … or know how they want to be contacted?

And there are more questions.

Sales models should always be subject to review and revision. COVID may have accelerated the questioning and the review process. Technology is more able then ever but requires different types of investments (process, technology, people and content). Are outside “salespeople” salespeople or account / relationship managers? How much can companies invest in specialists without changing sales compensation models? How critical is product knowledge or are customers knowing what they need (and essentially serving themselves via electronic commerce (website, EDI, system to system, etc)? What is occurring with staff turnover?

Sales models are under attack, most likely because, for most companies, they haven’t changed and performance essentially is the same (performs like the tide.)

Your customers, if you dare ask them, value different sales resources differently. Two different CMG research projects highlighted that

• contractors are more loyal to a distributor due to a relationship with inside salesperson than an outside salesperson, and

• when asked the importance of various sales roles, contractors and industrial accounts rank inside salespeople, outside salespeople and counter personnel in this order.

Relationships do matter, and frequently people do business with people. However, neither relationships nor “people” are as secure as before. Generational, societal and performance pressures are all less forgiving than years ago. Performance counts more, and faster, than ever before. Companies need to evaluate and consider revision / change. Holding on to the past can reduce tomorrow’s performance.

Tomorrow’s sales model

As Mark projects, hybrid will be the new normal. The questions become

• What will your hybrid be?

• What did you learn about your sales organization in 2019?

David Gordon is President of Channel Marketing Group. Channel Marketing Group develops market share and growth strategies for manufacturers and distributors and develops market research. CMG’s specialty is the electrical industry. He also authors an electrical industry blog, www.electricaltrends.com. Channel Marketing Group does not engage with clients on detailed pricing strategies, however, given that pricing is a critical element of sales, marketing and growth planning, we do get asked about the topic and can share opinions and refer to those who focus on the area as well as share anecdotes. David Gordon can be reached at 919-488-8635 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Statistics CanadaThere were slightly fewer active businesses (-0.1%; -1,208) in May compared with a month earlier, marking the first time since May 2020 that the number of closures outpaced openings.

The number of business openings decreased by 11.5%, the largest percentage decrease since December 2018 and the second consecutive month with negative growth (Chart 1). The number of business closures declined by 2.9%, following a 2.5% increase in April. The decline in the number of business openings in May was largely driven by fewer entrants (-16.4%). The number of entrants in May was below the 2015-to-2019 average for the first time since August 2020. 

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488 Days of COVIDBy John Kerr

Looking back to early 2020, the industry entered the first quarter with a sense of a solid year ahead, one that would easily eclipse 2019, and then in mid-March the brakes went on and relatively quickly.

On both the supplier and distribution sides, many took a reactionary stance and then quietly planned their next moves. Thinking differently, adding stock and doubling down on inventory, looking at alternative shipping methods and figuring out how to stay close to the customer are among the attributes of those that pivoted well and have come out of the dark in great shape.

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The study Trends in Canadian business debt financing: Before and during COVID-19 looks at the types of credit debt private non-financial corporations incurred prior to and during the COVID-19 pandemic, and examines how they used that liquidity to weather the economic turbulence during this period.

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Investment in Building Construction - May 2021Investment in building construction cooled slightly in May, decreasing 1.9% to $19.4 billion. This was the first drop in seven months. Residential construction investment (-2.7%) was down for the first time since April 2020, while non-residential construction increased slightly.

On a constant dollar basis (2012=100), investment in building construction declined 2.7% to $14.8 billion in May.

 

 

 

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David GordonBy David Gordon

As we transition from the pandemic many wonder about the future of sales, meaning, “What will the sales process (sales model) look like in the future,” and, essentially, “What is the role of / for outside salespeople?”

In reality, this question was asked pre-pandemic as management lamented that Sales wasn’t being as productive as they desired. Companies are always seeking to improve their processes, whether it is having salespeople better penetrate accounts, identify and call on new customers, use a different (new?) sales method...
 

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Changing Scene

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Signify“In the second quarter we saw an acceleration of the pace of recovery in comparison to the first three months of the year,” says CEO Eric Rondolat. “We successfully executed our strategy as demand for our connected lighting offers and our growth platforms remained strong.”

The consumer segment held its momentum and demand for conventional products proved resilient. The professional lighting segment showed sequential improvements, while still impacted by both extended lockdowns and supply constraints. Overall, we managed to improve the operating margin by 190 basis points and generated a solid free cash flow. 

 

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Adrian ThomasSchneider Electric Canada, together with the France Canada Chamber of Commerce Ontario (FCCCO) is proud to announce Adrian Thomas as the newly elected President of the European Union Chamber of Commerce in Canada (EUCCAN). Thomas, who currently serves as the country president of Schneider Electric Canada is entrusted with continuing the growth of EUCCAN by reinforcing transatlantic cooperation between the European and Canadian business communities.  “I am deeply honoured for the opportunity to join EUCCAN as their new President and build on the growth they’ve experienced in recent years,” says Adrian Thomas, Country President of Schneider Electric Canada. 

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Agents of ChangeAgents of Change is an event for stakeholders from Canada's electricity and beyond to build capacities in diversity, equity and inclusion.

Agents of Change is a one-day event focused on equipping attendees with the tools they need to address the challenges under-represented groups face in the workplace. Women, Indigenous people, racialized people, persons with disabilities, LGBQ+, gender diverse people and newcomers to Canada are under-represented in electricity and often face systemic barriers. We have the power to change this disparity and transform our sector into a paragon of equity.

 

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Flemming Jensen, Jason Samuelian, and John ClancyLED lighting solutions manufacturer Espen Technology has announced three changes to its sales management team.


Flemming Jensen (left), previously was Vice President of the Central and South Regions, has been promoted to Senior Vice President, Sales and Marketing. Flemming brings over 40 years of industry experience in the distribution, ESCO, and agent markets. He will focus on continuing Espen’s top line growth, in the coming years.

 


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Edison ReportEdisonReport has announced their 5th Annual Lifetime Achievement Awards.  These Awards will be presented the Tuesday evening, 26 OCT before LightFair begins on Wednesday, 27 OCT.

Judges for 2021 were Paul Pompeo, Nancy Clanton, and Donny Wall.  Clanton stated, “Selecting individuals for this award was extremely rewarding especially in identifying the leaders and innovators, including world class lighting designers and researchers, that truly have made a tremendous positive impact in our lighting industry.”

 

 

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Peers & Profiles

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Illumisoft Lighting is an innovative company headquartered in Ottawa that focuses on suspended ...
Electrimat is an independent Quebec-owned company that has specialized for 40 years in the ...
In July, Eaton announced that Vice President, Channel – Electrical Sector, Matt Cleary would be ...
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Brett NicholdsBy Blake Marchand

Illumisoft Lighting is an innovative company headquartered in Ottawa that focuses on suspended ceiling troffer LED fixtures that utilize optical film technology to achieve a high level of performance and efficiency.

Their flagship product is the EcoWing, which is available for new construction and fixture in fixture retrofits. Their primary application target is office buildings, hospitals, and dealerships. Recent projects include the Department of National Defense building in Ottawa, AMPED Sports Lab, Queensway Carleton Hospital, and Surgenor Automotive Group.

 

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Jeffrey MoyleBy Line Goyette

“The ongoing integration of Rexel Utility into our Canadian business platforms has underscored our responsibility as an organization to find creative solutions for today’s challenges, as well as to prepare for tomorrow’s opportunities.”

This quote from Jeffrey caught my attention. Vice President, Supplier & Digital Strategy at Rexel Canada Electrical Inc., Jeffrey has extensive experience in the industry and is a graduate of the University of Western Ontario with a Master’s in Business Administration, focusing on internarial leadership.

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Copper $US Dollar price per pound

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