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What does your sales force look like in five years? In ten? If you don’t have an answer yet, my chat with Eric Wessinger, president of Richards Supply, will definitely spark some ideas. 

Officially, he’s lead the company for a little over six years. Unofficially, Eric’s been in and around the distribution business since childhood. As a second generation leader, he’s drawing on his decade of outside work experience as well as his lifetime of insider knowledge to tackle the company’s million-dollar sales question.

“We’ve talked about it a ton with both the leadership and the management team,” Eric says regarding the future of sales and service. Challenges inherent to smaller businesses can thwart creative problem solving, especially when overshadowed by the seemingly limitless reach of the national brands. 

In search of guidance, Eric looked to Richards Supply’s core values. “We’ve been around for eighty-five years so we’re doing something right already. So how do we take that foundation and move it forward?”

Communication has always been key for the company. “I think outside sales, and face-to-face relationships, is still a differentiator for us.” To that end, Eric and his sales force check in with its customers and refine the partnership by asking clients how they want to interact with the company.

“I talk to customers all the time,” he says. “If you looked at the top fifty, top one hundred customers, we do business with each one of them very differently. I think that’s been a strength for us...being able to ask the right questions and listen to the answer and try to adjust accordingly.”

Although customization looks vastly different today from when the company began, the principle has stayed the same: meet the customer where they are. “If you ask a customer how they want to be served, you better be ready to say ‘yes’ to whatever the answer to that question is.” 

For Richards Supply, that means an omni-channel approach to service options: outside sales, counter service, and a newly revamped website with a robust presence all its own. “You have to consider your website as an extension of your business, basically as a branch,” Eric says. “You would never open a branch without inventory in mind or a sales methodology or a plan.”  

The company’s relationship driven, tech minded culture is a modern, practical approach to figuring out the future of sales. “It’s a massive challenge and exciting. And it’s fun but it’s definitely something that’s not snap of the fingers kind of thing.” It’s clear, however, that Eric and his staff have given Richards Supply a good head start. 

Dive deeper into the company’s massive website overhaul and find out how Eric’s years as a recruiter have helped him bolster the company’s hiring process. Listen in! 

Thank you to our sponsor INxSQL, software built for distribution.

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Distribution Talk is produced by The Distribution Team, a consulting services firm dedicated to helping wholesale distribution clients remove barriers to profitability, generate wealth and achieve personal goals.  

Edited & mixed by The Creative Impostor Studios.