MAGNET Educates Area Manufacturers on Building Sales Networks
MAGNET and WIRE-Net recently held their fourth Accelerate Cleveland Manufacturing Growth Forum of 2015, presented by Dollar Bank. This informative manufacturing event focused on improving manufacturers’ business performance through a well-built sales network. MAGNET Senior Growth Advisor Tom Sovich was joined by other expert speakers to provide a successful and valuable manufacturing forum.
Dan Collins, VP of Sales with Wire Products Company, opened the event by presenting real-world examples and strategies for building a sales network. With 35 years of experience in sales, Collins has developed a strong network of contacts and has recently used this network to add 10 jobs to Wire Products.
Collins noted the importance of networking and the sales opportunities that can grow from it. He explained how his company earned contracts with companies like Remington Arms and Little Tykes through an “all of the above” strategy: maintaining relationships with former colleagues, new acquaintances, past clients, and current partners, in order to encourage referrals and future business.
Collins said that in building a sales network, companies must first sell themselves as honest and reliable, and then sell their products as valuable and unique. In addition, they must surround themselves with “smarter” people who can describe the product well.
Next, Sovich took the floor to address building successful sales structures. He contrasted the options of selling products through distribution and through direct sales, emphasizing that distributors are channel partners and shouldn’t be used as the sales force.
Sovich listed a four-phase process to choose the optimal sales structure for a company:
Phase 1 includes defining the sales channel, whether it is through the Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM), a two- or three-step distributor, or a direct channel, based on the customers’ buying habits.
Phase 2 includes defining the sales complexity, meaning what is required for the sales channel to function at its highest level.
Phase 3 is developing the best sales structure: a Direct Company Salesforce will allow a company to control its message and brand, and focus on its products and priorities, while an independent sales representatives can leverage existing relationships, and cover more ground with a lower overhead. Sovich shared a Sales Complexity Checklist with attendees with tips about measuring and modifying sales structure.
Phase 4 is choosing channels and executing. Sovich explained that a company needs to consider possible channel conflicts and focus resources effectively, in order to make them attractive to customers.
Sovich’s presentation included an exercise on developing brand position statements, which explored a scenario of a company selling automotive brakes. In the exercise, attendees determined channel structures, sales intensity, and sales structure, then shared their responses. Afterwards, Sovich presented the real life example on which this exercise was based, which included an auto dealer as a direct distributor, a large retail chain as a two-step distributor, and both an e-tailer and a speed shop as three-step distributors.
Sovich then facilitated a second exercise where attendees mapped out their own existing channels and used the Sales Complexity Checklist to develop a best sales structure for their business.
Connie Palucka, Managing Director of Business Growth Services, concluded the workshop by speaking on how to build an effective sales network. Palucka discussed how potential distributors should be vetted as intensively as potential job candidates. She provided the profile of an ideal channel partner, which included having extensive knowledge, strong related experience, a contact network, and the right technical expertise and/or required equipment knowledge.
Palucka stressed the importance of building a list of potential channel partners, having a solid on-boarding process (including a trial period), developing a sales playbook, and making channel relationships more rewarding by communicating with a purpose.
Could you benefit from expert advice on how to strengthen your business? The next Accelerate Cleveland Manufacturing Growth Forum will be Friday, September 25 at the Dollar Bank Conference Center in downtown Cleveland. MAGNET Senior Business Consultant Donna Rhodes will be joined by educators and local manufacturers, and will focus on assuring and training a high quality workforce to drive business growth. Click here to register!
For more information about MAGNET and how we can help improve your business, contact Linda Barita at email@example.com or at (216) 391-7766.
One remarkable thing about the list is that it rarely changes. The order may change but the top cited standards typically don’t change. Top 10 Sited Safety and Health Violations: 501 - Fall Protection 1200 - Hazard Communication 451 - Scaffolding 134 - Respiratory Protection 147 - Lockout/Tagout 178 - Powered Industrial Trucks 1053 - Ladders 305 - Electrical, Wiring Methods 212 - Machine Guarding 303 - Electrical, General Requirements Three of the 10 sited standards are directed at the construction standard (1926) while other fall within the general industry (1910). It should be noted however that the general industry standard also has fall protection guidelines. Year after year, inspectors see the same on-the-job hazards, any one of which could result in a fatality or severe injury. More than 4,500 workers are killed on the job every year, and approximately 3 million are injured. By understanding these regulations you can improve your safety program and prevent injuries. Give me a call if you have any compliance doubts, or want to review OHSA regulations. Gwido Dlugopolsky at 216-391-7766 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Why does it take a NASCAR pit crew only 15 seconds to change four car tires when it takes people like you and me minutes? The answer is simple SMED. Single Minute Exchange of Dies, or SMED, is a process for reducing the time it takes to do equipment changeovers. Using the principles of SMED you should be able to perform any changeover in your facility in under 10 minutes! The SMED process is simple – convert as many changeover steps as possible to “external”, meaning they are done while your equipment is still RUNNING, while simplifying and streamlining the remaining steps. SMED is broken down into the following 3 Steps: Separate Convert Streamline We found this article to be very helping in explaining the SMED process in more detail: LEAN PRODUCTION - SMED A good first step to achieve this level of SMED efficiency would be to run a kaizen event at your facility to standardize (5S) your tools and supplies. Doing this alone will help you achieve 40% to 50% greater efficiency. Once the “low hanging fruit” is gone, you can still reduce setup times another 20% by practicing more advanced SMED principles.
The secret to closing any sale is to reduce uncertainty in the buyer and replace it with confidence in YOU, your PRODUCT/SERVICE, and your COMPANY. Step 1 – Confidence in YOU Someone buying from you wants to be able to fundamentally connect with you on a human level and feel confident that you’re an expert in what you’re selling If you’re selling paperclips, be an expert in paperclips If you’re selling design and engineering related services, be an expert in design and engineering related services Focus on addressing the problem, not the solution….MEANING you already know you have the solution, connect with the buyer by being an expert with the problem he/she is facing. Prove that you know the problem and all aspects of the problem like the back of your hand. Step 2- Confidence in the PRODUCT/SERVICE you are selling Someone buying from you needs to trust the product/service you are selling will solve their problem. It’s your responsibility to deliver a solution and the benefits associated with it. Basically you need to “Hit a Homerun” communicating this message. Tip – Use Success Stories: Share with the potential buyer examples of your product/service solving problems and delivering value for