Echoing thoughts from most others in the industry, the speakers at the FPDA/ISD Joint Summit at the Sawgrass Marriott in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., September 14-17, said that the fluid power industry is in a great place right now, but with that greatness comes necessary change.
The event was kicked off by Sam Manfer, sales training consultant, author, speaker and founder of Sales Mastery. Manfer told the approximately 220 attendees that although things are good in the fluid power business, in order to get to this point, businesses had to change. And customers changed, too.
Most importantly, said Manfer, is that this evolution means the salesperson of the future must become a therapist. They must learn to ask questions and solve problems for their customers. The days of going in and working with just one contact to get an order are over. Sales people must now work their way through the company, getting to know multiple people and offer them solutions. This means, said Manfer, that you can’t just tell a company, “my product will help you increase efficiency.” You need to complete the sentence and tell them exactly how.
To accomplish this, sales managers need to offer their sales people new types of motivation. You can’t just expect someone to change, Manfer said. Money or extrinsic motivators aren’t cutting it anymore. Younger sales reps, including Millennials, are looking for more intrinsic types of motivation, including autonomy, mastery and purpose.
Manfer said that to give employees true autonomy, they need to be made accountable for their own success. This means they may be allowed to work from home, but need to produce more and better results. In addition, sales managers need to help their employees by coaching, training and mentoring them to succeed. And finally, you need to help employees understand how their sales and their successes directly relate to the company’s growth and success rate.
The breakout sessions echoed many of these thoughts, especially in Bob Wendover’s talk about working across multiple generations. Wendover, of the Center for Generational Studies, said that as more Millennials come into the workplace, Matures (born prior to 1946), Boomers and Gen Xers need to better understand how they work.
“You are competing for share of mind with them (Millennials),” Wendover said, “You never have all of their attention.”
This is because, unlike the Matures and Boomers, who were influenced by a handful of outside sources like family, work, religion, radio and newspapers, Millennials have about quadruple the sources of information surrounding them all day long.
Despite the media pounding out the phrases like “entitled,” Millennials, when truly engaged, have a great work ethic. So engaging them and getting them to be a part of the company culture is critical to their and your success, Wendover said.
As Menfer indicated, the mindset has to change. You need to educate these young employees exactly what their impact is on the company. Yes, they may sell a lot of product and make a great deal of money for you, but they need to understand all the costs associated with the company, so they can fully grasp the reality of these revenues.
And, like Menfer, Wendover explained that industrial distribution managers need to focus on the outcome and less on the task. “I don’t care how you get there, as long as it meets the parameters that we’ve set,” Wendover said.
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