CEMRA Certainty

February 13, 2017 

By John Baron

Is it possible we are leaving the age of change for the age of uncertainty? Having just returned from a very successful NEMRA conference, one of the most heard words on the conference floor was “uncertainty.” Certainly the economic and political environments have never been as polarized as they appear to be today. As the globe has been shrinking with technology, the intertwining of these two spheres will continue to have a huge impact on all businesses today. Many of the economic crystal balls are becoming very cloudy as we peer into the future.

One of the most ubiquitous phrases in today’s business vernacular is “disruptive technologies.” All businesses strive to unravel the massive amounts of data and information coming at them from an ever widening prism in an effort to transform them into knowledge and wisdom. The purpose: to create strategies for their day-to-day business processes and more importantly their long term plans. To create a certainty of strategy.

So, with all this market uncertainty, what can you be certain about with a CEMRA independent manufacturers’ representative?

CEMRA companies are by definition small business. Small business makes up the backbone of the Canadian economy. Inherent in this definition is the desire to grow, thrive and survive. Therefore, there is constancy in the marketplace that manufacturers and clients can count on. Critically, it is also not a company that is interested only in quarterly results that must satisfy shareholders and corporate bonus plans. It is a company that is continually building momentum in the market day to day, week to week, month to month, and year to year. While CEMRA companies recognize the importance of meeting quarterly objectives as many represent publicly traded companies, the eye is always searching the horizon for the long-term play to strengthen all channel players’ sustainability.

What can you be certain about in creating demand?

The number one priority for all CEMRA reps is to create demand for the products and services that they represent in their territories. This is future sales volume for our manufacturers and distributors. In our competitive environment we are always striving to learn more about the existing products that we represent and challenge the manufacturers to create new products to solve new challenges that our markets demand. Problem solving is a key component in our competitive advantage owing to the experience our organizations bring to the market. We strive to have a host of solutions for our market, capitalizing on our synergistic selling skills and tools. You can be certain that this critical function is top most in all CEMRA reps’ minds.

What can you be certain about in market coverage?

One of the largest assets CEMRA reps bring to our markets is our continuity of sales and marketing coverage for our territories. When we engage our market partners — whether they are manufacturers, distributors or end-users in strategic planning, product launches and territory sales coverage — we command knowledge of the market that is second to none. The average length of our relationship term with our manufacturers is two decades. If you believe history is important, this is a valuable piece of the foundation in market share capture.

What can you be certain about in strategic planning?

CEMRA reps touch many stakeholders in the electrical, design and construction communities. We communicate with a variety of segments, all unique in their optics of the world, which gives us an opportunity to synthesize this information in discussing market strategies with our manufacturers, distributors and end users. It’s exciting!

Our strategic planning sessions with all of our partners offer an outstanding opportunity to exchange theories, philosophies and notes. Our partners appreciate working together as continuing innovation shortens product life cycles. Our “bananas go from green to yellow to brown” very quickly, particularly in the lighting industry. We build our strategic plans based on a large database of comments, not just a narrow band of perceptions from a single product source platform. This synthesis of information is very valuable when placed in the correct vehicle to drive sales and margins for all stakeholders.

What can you be certain about in future with a CEMRA rep?

The CEMRA rep firm has an eye on two key elements to securing the continuity of the company while building an ever stronger sales organization. One is talent development and the second is a solid succession plan. The first feeds into the second. The CEMRA rep firm is always looking to educate its current team members to make them the most knowledgeable solution selling team in the market. This includes incorporating the latest technologies to assist in the sales cycle, investing in the IT systems to make the sales process as clean and quick as possible and looking for new people as required in growing the business.

CEMRA rep firms also realize how critical effective succession planning becomes, as a key objective is to maintain market coverage continuity. This gives our manufacturers and distributor stakeholders the confidence to grow with their CEMRA rep firm. If you believe that market coverage continuity is an extremely valuable asset, the CEMRA rep firm provides that vehicle.

In summary, a CEMRA rep firm will provide the market with a professional sales force, an experienced inside sales team, a solution selling problem solving philosophy to our end users and markets, wide angle optics for strategic planning in the territory, and finally a look to the future with a succession plan to maintain the market coverage and demand creation critical to continued success. The CEMRA rep takes pride in building and sustaining a strong independent business, and being a good corporate citizen while exercising agility to meet local market dynamics incorporating a macro economic perspective.

We encourage everyone in our channel to visit with a CEMRA rep firm to discuss the possibilities of working with our organizations which are coast to coast, in all territories, and willing to plan for more sales possibilities together.

Good selling!

John Baron is President of Elec-Tech Sales Ltd., a manufacturing agent with headquarters in Richmond, British Colombia. John is on the Board of Directors and Executive of the BC Electrical Association, which named him BCEA Individual of the Year for 2016. John is also a former president of CEMRA, and active member of IESNA and NEMRA.

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