[A Closer Look]
The heart to make you profitable.
Carborundum Abrasives –
The art of communicating in face-to-face meetings doesn’t have
to be a thing of the past.
If you’re in sales, just think of how many deals you’ve closed
because you got that face-to face meeting and were able to get
in front of the customer and provide them with key features and
benefits of the products you’re selling.
As a sales professional, you’ve learned to “read” customer signals by their facial expressions and body posture.
So in this age of technological innovation and on-line ordering,
some would believe the role of the outside salesperson has been
lessened. In fact, a leading industry observer who has spoken
at many distribution meetings over the years had predicted the
demise of the outside salesperson because of the Internet and
But I’d argue that, today, the role of the outside salesperson has
never been more important. If you were to look at some of the
largest distributors in the country such as Fastenal, WESCO, and
MSC Industrial Direct, you’d see that hiring salespeople is one of
their strategies for growth.
But salespeople today are going to have learn new skills if they
are going to be successful. It means also that they are going to
have to work harder than ever to set up meetings with prospec-
tive customers and shorten and sharpen their sales presentations.
One of my best friends is a very successful outside salesperson
in the medical supplies field. Now as a veteran salesperson, he is
mentoring a younger entry-level salesperson who goes with him
on sales calls. Both learn from one another. The veteran teaches
his new colleague how to close sales and relate to the customer,
while the younger salesperson has taught my friend to use addi-
tional skills in areas like social media.
As employers hire younger people, they are going to have to
work on the “blocking and tackling” that goes along with the
selling process. That means additional training on communication
and presentation skills in addition to training on how to sell new
Relationships will always be important in selling. Just how important is up to you, the outside salesperson.
Jack Keough is contributing editor of Industrial Distribution. You
can reach Jack at firstname.lastname@example.org.