“We must never be too busy to take time to sharpen the saw”
- Stephen Covey
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As is always the case, distribution topics seem to come in waves. It seems like a topic comes into my
circle of influence and repeats for about 90 days. Perhaps it just seems that way because I become more
aware of topic and tend to hear it throughout my daily interactions with clients, guests and colleagues.
This quarter, I am becoming more aware of the importance of inside sales programs in the distribution
space. For those of you who have been around me for a number of years, you will often hear me talk
about this role, or team, being equal to field sales programs. Unfortunately, this has not been a popular
opinion for much of my distribution career, but a kid can still hope.
Let’s just look at the numbers. From a seated position, inside the office, the average internal
salesperson can touch at least 30 customers a day versus the field salesperson averaging about 10
meaningful customer interactions....
As is often the case, most of my article thoughts come from my interactions with distribution clients and groups I
facilitate. Today is no exception. I was speaking with a group of operations managers and the topic of outsourcing was brought forth. Outsourcing of services has always been something that my clients have shied away from. They often outsource functions in the early years; but as they grow, there seems to be a tendency to bring things in house. Perhaps the perception is that they will gain greater control over the function, or they feel like they can do it cheaper than they are currently paying for an outside service. I am sure that there are many reasons for the shift; but is it really prudent to continue performing functions in house when alternative companies provide similar services? Is this the best utilization of our shrinking labor pool...
As many of you know, I have had the pleasure of hosting my podcast, Distribution Talk, for the past 3 years. In fact, I just celebrated my 100th episode. For a guy who just squeaked his way into and out of college, this is a pretty big surprise. The reactions are pretty funny when people from my past find out that I have been a published author for the past 18 years and have a successful podcast. It just goes to
show you that people can change. You don’t have to be who others expected you to be. The same goes for multi-generational family businesses. Just because the entity looked a certain way and conducted itself in a certain manner, it doesn’t have to remain that way. I have been hearing this a lot in the guests I interview and the clients I serve. Time to share it with you all.
About a year ago, I saw a post from a friend of mine, Jeff Peterson of Geneva Supply. Jeff is this really inspirational leader who has a keen eye on company culture and how to evolve as the company scales at a blistering pace. In this post, he said something to the effect of “company culture is not a ping-pong table in the break room” or something to that effect. I don’t know why this struck me, but it got me
thinking about creating deep cultural shifts in the organization versus surface level window dressings.
Sure, a ping-pong table or stocked break room might signal a fun environment, but it doesn’t address the deep-seated barriers to equity, inclusion and belonging in our organizations. By the way, Jeff has been running a great series on his LinkedIn profile tagged #BeforeIGoIn. He sits in his car, before he goes in the office, and talks about how to be a better leader through employee engagement and observation. Jeff grew up in some very male dominated, stogy industries and has led his organization to be the
company that most of us wish we could grow up to be. Do yourself a favor and check out his profile.
When distributors are just starting out, they usually have to beg for lines. Over time, this dynamic shifts; but not always in the mind of the distributor.
Most companies recognize the need to plan for succession at the top role. What about those department heads that do the heavy lifting?
The use of marketing dollars is rapidly changing. Distributors need to understand how digital marketing is become a more dominant part of the spend.
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