In the Heavy Duty Truck and Trailer Parts business, most manufacturers have sales reps assigned to work with OEM’s, Truck Dealers, Aftermarket Distributors, and Aftermarket Retailers. The relationship is strictly B2B and the manufacturers rely on their customers to sell their products to the end users.
Manufacturers want to work with the people who sell their products to the end users. Sadly over the last 20 years, there has been a trend of declining interest in collaborative sales work. This is a mystery to many manufacturers as their only goal is to make the people and businesses who sell their products to the end-users successful.
Creating a Collaborative Sales System
Over the last 20 years, I have made it part of my strategic plan to work with as many manufacturers as possible. The results historically have been very good. After stepping away from the industry for 7 years to be an entrepreneur I recently returned and started working with Artic Truck Parts & Service as a Sales Account Manager.
I’m thoroughly convinced that collaborative sales work with manufacturers is an essential part of creating a successful strategic sales plan. So I went to work developing a system for scheduling and working with as many manufacturers as possible. My system includes using an email autoresponder, a calendar scheduling app, a detailed itinerary including dining and hotel recommendations, a comprehensive list of the customers to be visited, detailed information about the market potential of each customer, training requirements for our staff, and an optional in-store promotional sale and social media promotion to drive traffic to our store and website generating new sales opportunities. The initial results regionally have been excellent with a notable increase in sales during and after the visit of each manufacturer’s sales rep.
Innovation Brings National Attention
What I didn’t expect was the national attention this system has created. In my mind, I was simply using the entrepreneurial tools I had developed over the last 7 years. As an entrepreneur, you have to be creative to generate results quickly because you are self-funded and you need to generate sales growth quickly.
My sales system has been considered by the industry to be very innovative and has gotten the attention of many executives around North and South America, depending on where the head office of the manufacturing company is located.
As a result, it has come to my attention that this system has created a new standard in our industry and some manufacturing companies are now requiring all of their customers to follow parts or all of this system.
A Lesson for Sales Professionals
The lesson I think in all of this is that “innovation” can be achieved in all aspects of our work and we don’t need to be Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, or Elon Musk to be innovative. Innovation can be something as simple as changing a few words in our sales presentation, implementing existing technology, or leveraging available resources.
The reality is that the world is changing, the role of B2B sales professionals is changing, and we have an opportunity, no an obligation to use those changes to propel ourselves forward not fade into the shadows of disruptive technology and changing economic times. So take some time to think about your job as a sales professional and look for ways to innovate the way you influence your revenue!
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