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Getting Smart with Your Time
Why Should Wholesaler-Distributors Focus on Smart Time Management?

Copyright 2002, by Dave Kahle.

How to Excel at Distributor Sales by Dave KahleHow to Excel
at Distributor Sales

The most popular sales book for distributors ever written. This much-praised book is an absolute must for every one of your salespeople if you're serious about improving their performance.

Take a look at the table of contents.

Buy it Now!
NAW Discount
Widely known as the distributor salesperson's bible, How To Excel at Distributor Sales by Dave Kahle is designed to empower wholesale distribution salespeople with the skills they need to be successful in the information age.

If you supervise a sales force and are serious about improving performance, this much-praised book is an absolute must for everyone on your staff. If you are a sales professional, How To Excel at Distributor Sales will take you to ever-greater accomplishments.

Revised, updated and expanded in 2002 to be more relevant and useful than ever, How To Excel at Distributor Sales now contains a special section devoted to smart time management for the wholesale distribution salesperson. Here's an excerpt.

About half the success you achieve as a salesperson comes from the skill you develop with interpersonal relations. You need to be good at the face-to-face interactions with your customers and prospects. But half of your success arises out of the way you think about your job when you are by yourself!

That's because how you think about your job directly impacts how you use your time. And the smart use of time is one of the things that distinguishes the highly effective distributor salesperson from the mediocre.

When you become skilled at time management, you free yourself from a lot of the tedious details that weigh you down and suck up valuable time. Things like expediting orders, checking invoices, arranging for samples, picking up returns, etc., can occupy hours a day and result in little measurable returns.

When you reduce the time spent in those kinds of things and increase the time you spend doing what you do best face-to-face interactions with your customers -- you change the whole structure of your day. The result is that you are operating at a higher level. And that makes you feel better about your job, more fulfilled and more satisfied.

Obstacles to smart time management

Why aren't all distributor sales people great time managers? Here are some reasons. See if any of these describe you.

  • Obstacle One: The personality inclination of the typical distributor salesperson.
    Distributor salespeople generally have some distinctive personality traits that help them to be successful at what they do. One such trait is our inclination towards being active
  • We love being active. We like being in the car, going here and there. We get a charge out of being in the middle of deals, juggling a hundred things at a time and making it all work.

    On the other hand, the most drearisome parts of your job, if you're like most distributor salespeople, are doing paperwork and sitting in sales meetings. You let paperwork go until your manager threatens your job. You fidget in those meetings and find reasons to go out into the hall and make cell phone calls. You just can't wait to get back out on the road.

    That inclination toward activity is a personality trait that serves you and other distributor salespeople very well. However, when it comes to smart time management, that same personality inclination is a major drawback. We are inclined to just do it, to leap into action, and not think about it before we do it.

    If we're going to become good at smart time management, we need to overcome our natural inclination to just do it - to be active.

  • Obstacle Two: Growing complexity.
    The world of the distributor salesperson has grown increasingly complex in the last few years. As our job becomes more complex, it becomes more and more difficult for us to stay focused and effective. The scary thing is this: That complexity is growing at a faster and faster rate, threatening to scatter our energies, diffuse our efforts and render us into babbling basket cases who do nothing but react to whatever is thrown at us.

    Look at the number of SKUs your company handles. I'll bet that the number of SKUs has increased by at least 30% in the past three years. That means that just that one piece of your job, understanding what you sell, has become at least 30% more complex than it was a few years ago.

    This increase in complexity is the natural response to competition and the increasing role of technology in our lives.

    In almost every line of trade, customers are expecting more from the distributors who serve them. I recently facilitated a focus group for one of my distributor clients. We had two representative customers from each of the three market segments this distributor served. I had these six people around a conference table for an afternoon, discussing two basic questions: "What do you want from the distributors who serve you?" and "What do you want from the distributor sales people who call on you?"

    They all volunteered that they were committed to buying more from fewer vendors. Those remaining distributors who would enjoy a growing part of their business would have to service them more effectively in order to earn their business. They'd have to know their business better, offer more services, provide a broader selection of products, etc.

    That was the first answer. Here's the second. Every single one of those customers said, over and over again, that they did not want distributor salespeople to waste the customer's time. They were adamant and passionate about this. Distributor salespeople needed to be highly organized and prepared for every sales call, they needed to not bother the customer with products or presentations that were not a good fit for the customer's business, they needed to be prepared to take notes and thoughtfully understand the customer's business and they needed to offer ideas to help the customer grow his/her business.

    Clearly, the customer's expectations of the distributor salespeople have become more complex and sophisticated. Those salespeople who can grow, develop and continually meet this moving target of continually growing expectations will do well.

    This growing complexity of products on one side and customer expectations on the other combine to squeeze the distributor salesperson into more thoughtful use of time.

  • Obstacle Three: The service orientation of most distributor salespeople.
    An acute sensitivity to the customer's requests is at the heart of the typical distributor. All the employees are generally taught to jump when the customer calls, to react quickly and thoroughly to every customer response. That, after all, is what good service is all about. This mindset is particularly helpful for customer service representatives, those keystones of the distribution company who make everything happen on the phone.

    It's only natural, therefore, that distributor salespeople absorb this mindset - if the customer wants something, jump to take care of it. Ninety percent of distributor field people share this attitude.

    Here's the problem. While that mindset is perfect for all the operational people within the company - everyone from the customer service reps to the delivery drivers - it is a serious obstacle for the time-conscious field sales person.

    If you jump every time any customer calls, you allow him to control your day. At the end of the day, you are exhausted with your frantic activity, but you haven't accomplished many of the things that will bring you closer to your goals.

The challenge

So, on one hand we have the attractive benefits of becoming skilled at smart time management: better results, a greater sense of fulfillment and satisfaction, less stress. On the other, we have the natural obstacles in the world of the typical distributor salesperson: an inclination toward action, complexity of the job and an orientation toward reactive service. And you're squarely in the middle, needing some way to overcome the obstacles in order to gain the benefits. What you need are some simple, easy to implement, very effective ways to do so. And that's what the new section of my book is all about.

How To Excel at Distributor Sales by Dave Kahle is available exclusively from the National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors, 1725 K St., NW, Suite 300, Washington, DC 20006. A 5% discount applies to all online orders. Go to www.nawpubs.org or call 202-872-0885 for full pricing and ordering information.

Dave Kahle offers a variety of resources that can help your business stay competitive in changing times. To learn you can reach Dave by phone at 800-331-1287 or send him an email request.

Transforming Your Sales Force for the 21st Century
Transforming Your Sales Force for the 21st Century
Buy it now!
Only $69

Distribution companies, by their nature, should be sales-oriented companies. But, most distributors don't do sales very well. That's the premise behind this new book.

The book, written for sales managers and executives in the distribution industry, provides a blue print for executives to transform their sales forces into highly directable, effective, focused performers.

The book begins with an analysis of current conditions that pressure the distributor to revise the way he/she thinks about his sales force. Kahle then paints a picture of the distributor sales force of the future. The sales force will be:
  1. more specialized
  2. more directable
  3. more flexible
  4. more professional
  5. more productive.
His advice begins with "See it as a system," a concept that is based on one of the key principles for the book, "When you change the structure, you change the behavior of the people who work within that structure."
Copyright © 2007 Dave Kahle & The DaCo Corporation, All Rights Reserved
3736 West River Drive Comstock Park, MI 49321, toll-free 1.800.331.1287, fax 616.451.9412
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