Lewis and Clark, and Reps


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Reps will tell you two of the same things that Lewis and Clark would have told you.

  1. Sometimes the only way to discover what’s out there is to go and look.
  2. When we go out and look, some of the value we generate won’t benefit us immediately. But often, we can store that value and use it strategically when the time is right.

Going out and looking, exploring the territory, and meeting people face-to-face were why Lewis and Clark left Missouri to explore the newly-acquired Louisiana Purchase in 1804. Going out and looking, exploring the territory, and meeting people face-to-face is also how many reps describe their careers.

Generating something of value that won’t benefit us immediately is something that Captain Meriwether Lewis wrote about in his journal on June 9, 1805.

“We determined to deposit at this place … all the heavy baggage which we could possibly do without, and some provisions, salt, tools, powder and lead &c., with a view to lighten our vessels … Accordingly, we set some hands to digging a hole or cellar for the reception of our stores. These holes in the ground, or deposits, are called, by the engages, ‘caches.’”

What value do reps generate as they travel that they cache along the way to use later?

They build and cache strong relationships with customers who are not yet ready to buy that will get them access to decision makers when needed. They cache reputations as trusted resources so customers who need their products will call them and buy from them. They cache goodwill that will eventually turn into orders.

Because reps know that even though they start their careers by deciding to go out and look, eventually, their territory won’t be a pioneering territory.

What It Takes to Be a Successful Sales Representative and Business Entrepreneur


Recently I was reading the article in Agency Sales magazine entitled, “The Talk Part 2,” by Russ Sorrells. After reading the article, not only did I strongly agree with what I read, but I wanted to share personal experiences of how exercise, good nutrition, and mental health play such an important role in being a successful business entrepreneur. Additionally, after working 23 years in business operations for eight different companies, and operating L.S. Wilson & Associates, Inc., for 25 years this September, I wanted to share what personality traits I feel make a good sales representative.

What personality traits make … Read the rest

Past Practices Can Work Today


When Mills Rendell, formerly with Rendell Sales Company and now the president of Zeus Battery Products, read “Is This the Future for Many Outside Salespeople” in the September 2022 issue of Agency Sales, it caused him to reflect on his career as a rep. It also reminded him that there’s no room for excuses if a rep is having difficulty getting in touch with customers and no substitute for hard work if a rep is seeking a path to a successful career in sales.

According to Rendell, “There’s no need for me to go into a great deal of … Read the rest

MANAchats Let Reps Share Concerns


Whether it’s considering if the role of the rep is changing, sharing tips on how to use technology to maximize productivity, or offering advice for getting in front of ever-elusive customers, regularly scheduled MANAchats have become a welcome meeting place for association members. Those and other subjects were addressed in recent sessions of the chats that were participated in by numerous MANA members and took place over several days.

Contacting Customers

As noted in another article that appears in this issue of Agency Sales, the lasting impact of Covid and other variables have made it more difficult for reps … Read the rest

Which Sales Management Style is Yours?


Five Sales Managers’ Styles

I’ve trained B2B sales forces for 30 years. In that time, I’ve had ample opportunity to interact with literally thousands of sales managers. The position is often the least well-organized in the entire sales department. Job descriptions are sketchy if they even exist. Expectations for the position range from non-existent to fuzzy and general (“make sales go up”). Very few have ever been trained in the best practices of their position. They are, for the most part, left on their own to define the job as they see fit.

This leads to a wide variety of … Read the rest

As Leaders, We Need Believers, Not Buy‑Ins on Our Team


Today I want to focus on the difference between having believers on your team (not just buy-in from staff) to succeed.

In a recent prep call with a client for an upcoming keynote, we were discussing the need for belief over buy-in as a leader. I’ve written at length about this in my latest book, Serve Up Coach Down. During chit-chat, this leader identified the need for employees and leaders in the middle (LIMs) to believe in tasks that they perform on a daily basis. Why? He needed them to have a true desire to serve the organization’s customers … Read the rest

Prospecting Is a Mental Game, an Activity Game, and an Outcome Game


Prospecting is a game that too many salespeople have already lost because they’re mentally unprepared.

A Mental Game

I want you to be successful at prospecting, and I’m going to tell you 10 things to get your head in the game.

1. Prep the day before.

You can’t go into anything mentally prepared if you have no idea what you’re getting into.

Who are the contacts I’m going to be calling?
What are my expectations?

If you wait till that morning, you’re going to waste so much valuable time just getting ready.

2. Set the expectations.

It’s not your job … Read the rest

Your First Conversation With a Prospect


I was recently in a sales meeting for a company that I just started working with. One of the subjects that came up was how to handle the first interaction with the prospect.

By first interaction, I’m referring to the first conversation with someone who seems to have some interest and has decided to at least give you a few minutes of their time. In sales meetings, I’ll usually ask if someone has an example of what they do in that situation and if they could share it with the group. In this case, Wayne volunteered. He’s a veteran at … Read the rest

Increase Sales by Classifying Customers


The primary goal of any sales organization is to continually increase sales. Every customer, no matter how large or small, is important and must be properly serviced, but not all customers are equal. How do you use your sales time most efficiently? One way is by classifying customers.

In most cases, 80 percent of your sales are generated from 20 percent of your customers. To properly classify customers, the sales potential for every customer must be evaluated. Customer classification should be done every year because a customer’s volume and their potential to grow is not constant. Customers can move from … Read the rest

Overcoming Sales Objections


Most sales pros don’t like dealing with objections, and there are several reasons why.

Some objections come across like rejections, and that simply doesn’t feel good. Most of us fear rejection at some level. Other objections could signal that we’ll lose the deal, and we only get paid if we close deals. Still other objections are tricky — they’re just plain difficult to respond to in a calm, convincing way.

Whatever your reason for disliking objections, the first step in overcoming them is to not fear them or dread them. Objections are not necessarily bad things. They are a normal … Read the rest

Defining the Meaning of Value


Manufacturers’ reps and their principals truly believe they are adding value for their customers. Despite this belief, however, many of them have seen their profit margins become razor thin because of deeper discounting, extended terms, and special offers. The question that should be front and center of everyone’s mind is this: “If we are adding value, why do our customers continue demanding lower prices?”

In answer to that ever-present question an industry consultant offered some thoughts that manufacturers ought to be sharing with their reps.

Customers have heard the promise of added value from advertisers and salespeople for years. Yet, … Read the rest

Internal Struggles — Know How Best to Divorce Your Business Partner


This article is designed to provide some basic and little-known information on how certain business corporation laws prescribe how to separate from, buy out, and deal with a business partner with whom you no longer wish to work.

Like any contracting, it is always best to draft the initial agreements with your business partners carefully after studying and considering all potential issues, good or bad, that may arise during your relationship. Also, plan for your separation in the beginning. This up-front work and expense will always be worth it. Litigation over a separation and doing so with a not-so-well-thought-out shareholder … Read the rest

ISA Launches New Emerging Leaders Channel Certification to Develop Next‑Gen Talent

On April 18 in Phoenix, Arizona, at the ISA23 convention, the Industrial Supply Association (ISA) announced the launch of its new Emerging Leaders Channel Certification (ELCC) — a multi-layered, channel-centered certification program designed to develop the next generation to lead.

“The ELCC is a program that companies within the industrial MROP industry have needed for years. It provides the opportunity to fast-track young talent in terms of their knowledge of how the channel works as well as their connections inside it,” said Alex Ruggles, immediate past chair of ISA’s Emerging Leaders Committee and director of customer service at Martin Supply, … Read the rest