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..

GescanMeet Doug Palmer, Lighting Specialist for the Manitoba region working out of Gescan's Winnipeg office. He helps determine the most efficient and cost-effective lighting solutions for your commercial or industrial project. From new-build layouts to retrofit of existing spaces and interior/exterior lighting solutions, Doug provides a one-stop-shop of lighting expertise.

In addition, Doug supports the application process that allows business owners to receive rebates through Efficiency Manitoba’s Business Lighting Program.

 

 

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Statistics CanadaInvestment in building construction increased 4.0% in February, reaching $20.0 billion for the first time. Most provinces reported gains, with Quebec accounting for over 50% of the increase. On a constant dollar basis (2012=100), investment in building construction increased 3.9% to $12.7 billion.

Residential construction continues to show strength

Investment in single family homes rose 4.9% to $8.0 billion in February. Increases were posted in seven provinces, led by Ontario (+5.3%) and Quebec (+8.2%).

 

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HousingBy Linda Longo, Managing Editor, Electrical Trends

Electrical distributors who do big business with contractors and electricians in new home construction will struggle through another tumultuous year of trying to satisfy record-setting demand while facing down materials shortages. According to recent housing reports, home buyer demand remains strong, but supply chain troubles are holding back growth.

Nationally the numbers will be challenging while within specific markets there could be growth, but supply chain issues could dominate and prolong residential construction projects.

 

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Electric Shock Podcast Interviewby Daniela De Marco, Marketing Manager, EFC

"Electrical work is evidently dangerous. Electrocution is one of the top six causes of occupational deaths in Canada and the U.S." according to Canadian Standards Association & the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (2012). More often than not, electrical workers are taking unnecessary risks by working on a job site energized. 

In EFC's electro|POD "Electric Shock" podcast episode, Gurvinder Chopra, VP of Standards and Regulation, and I connected with experts to explore this topic further. We interviewed Robert Mitchell from Electrical Safety Authority (ESA), the Safety and Technical Program Advisor, and Kaylyn Kretschmer...

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Franklin EmpireThe year was 1942 and Abraham Backman began humbly, working out of his garage in his Montreal home, until he slowly built up a volume of business to afford a modest storefront. This year Franklin Empire celebrates our 80th anniversary, with the 4th generation of family at the helm.

"Today, we are the largest independently owned electrical distributor in Canada, with over 500 employees, 23 branch locations, five assembly and repair shops. and an inventory investment exceeding $35 million," said the company via LinkedIn.

 

 

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Changing Scene

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Gerrie ElectricThe Executive of Gerrie Electric Wholesale Limited announced the acquisition of FM Supply, effective April 1, 2022. They will continue to operate as FM Supply and do not anticipate changes in the way they currently do business with their locations in Waterloo and Stratford; they will now however have access to Gerrie’s inventory and a broader range of products and services.

“The team at FM Supply have a great reputation for treating their customers’ business like our business and work together to deliver an outstanding customer experience. When Colin Moore, Chris Watamanuk and I came to the decision to sell, we wanted to ensure that these customer traditions would be continued and supported in the future” 

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Johnson ControlsJohnson Controls announced findings from the 15th annual Energy Efficiency Indicator Survey, which revealed that 62 percent of organizations surveyed expect to increase investments in energy efficiency, renewable energy, or smart building technology in 2022, indicating a return to pre-pandemic levels.

The latest report by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change advised that global scale transformation is urgently needed to combat climate change, however, the Johnson Controls Energy Efficiency Indicator Survey found that organizations are still facing challenges to accelerate their sustainability efforts in key areas. 

 

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John RichardsonThe EFC announced the appointment of John Richardson to the executive position of Vice-Chair for the CMG Committee.

John is Vice-President, Sales with ANAMET Canada and has been in the electrical industry for more than 30 years. ANAMET manufactures flexible conduits in a newly expanded factory in Eastern Ontario. John has served on the CMG Committee for the past few years and has joined the ranks of leading the committee with CMG Chair, Jeff Beare, Stanpro. Both John and Jeff will work closely with CMG Team Lead, Nathalie Lajoie, EFC.

 

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Sandra PedroThe EFC announced that Sandra Pedro will be joining the company as the new Vice President of Membership and Corporate Partners, effective Monday, April 18, 2022. John Jefkins is retiring from his position on May 6th and will work with Sandra over the next three weeks to ensure a smooth transition.

Sandra comes with strong industry experience, previously with Schneider Electric in the Global Digital Energy Division as Director of Global Offer Management, and various sales and channel roles throughout her career at Schneider.


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Nexans Completes Centelsa AcquisitionNexans recently announced the successful completion of its acquisition of Centelsa, a premium cable manufacturer in Latin America specializing in building and utilities applications, from Xignux S.A. (headquartered in Mexico) following receipt of regulatory clearance. This transaction completes an additional milestone of Nexans’ strategy to become a Pure Electrification Player focusing on the overall value chain originating in generation, and flowing through transmission, distribution, and usage of sustainable energy.

With a total turnover  of more than US$ 339 million in 2021, Centelsa’s three manufacturing plants in Cali, Colombia and their distribution center in Ecuador will complement Nexans’ presence in Latin America. 

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Peers & Profiles

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SESCO CDCThe Sonepar Ontario Region is proud to announce the relocation of their SESCO Central Distribution Centre (CDC) to its new location in Brampton, ON.

This move has facilitated an amalgamation between Texcan’s large Brampton branch and SESCO’s CDC, as both businesses work together within one facility for the first time. The expansion of the building and the merging of the Operating Companies (OpCos) will assist with facilitating their customer service value proposition.

 

 

 

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