Salespeople At The Center of Distribution
Fifteen years ago, there were many in the distribution sector who predicted the demise of the outside sales- person. Some experts believed the exploding growth
of the Internet would mean that buyers would eliminate
distributors in purchasing products.
But nothing like that has happened. In fact, distributors
are rapidly adding to their sales forces to find new customers and further penetrate existing accounts.
Take Grainger, for example. The giant MRO distribu-
tor had said it would hire 200 new sales representatives in
2015. Now it says it will double that number to 400.
Kaman says it has completed the process of hiring 60
additional salespeople “to help drive organic growth by
addressing identified market opportunities.“
MSC and several other large distributors are hiring ad-
ditional salespeople or will be in the near future.
Fastenal, one of the larger distributors in the MRO arena,
is taking the lead in hiring sales and sales support personnel. A little more than a year ago, the Minnesota-based
company, with nearly 2,700 stores in operation, said it
wanted its salespeople to spend more time with customers
and less time with non-selling tasks. Fastenal announced
that it would hire more than 1,000 people, mostly in sales
support positions. The company has actually exceeded that
goal and, in a conference call with analysts, said it hired
1,067 employees in the past year, 650 of those in the first
Most of those hires have been part-time employees, a
way for Fastenal to recruit future personnel from two and
four-year technical colleges. “We recruit people with two-to four years left in school with the hopes that when they
graduate, they can come work for us full time and can hit
the road running,” said Dan Florness, Fastenal’s chief financial officer in a conference call with financial analysts.