- July 27, 2017
- Posted by: David Marshall
- Category: Business, Management
A few months ago, after I left Robroy and started my own consultancy, I received a very nice note from an old manufacturer’s rep named Jack, and it brought back a lot of memories.
David, I keep up with you through Brian C. and John S.. I’ll never forget you calling me when you got to Robroy after firing us with Genlyte. You told me I could cuss you out. That doesn’t work in this industry, I knew you had a job to do, and you did it. I’ve got total respect for you, you’ve done wonders at Robroy And a few of my best friends talk about you all the time, Brian C., John S., and Tommy H.. My wife is still pissed we separated ways because you always treated your agency principals like kings. This is a great industry. (Jack F.)
Basically, Jack’s company had been a manufacturer’s rep for my previous employer, but we had to part ways. However, when I became the president of Robroy, I had learned that he bought out his employer and was the new owner, so I called to congratulate him, and he — and his lovely wife —certainly remembered me and the special events we always threw. That meant a lot to me.
One of my philosophies has always been that if you’re going to do something, do it right or don’t do it at all. And that includes special events.
Once a year, we would hold a national sales meetings, and I would invite the principals of the rep agencies to these meetings. The reps had to go to a lot of sales meetings because they often represented 30 – 40 lines, so I made sure these weren’t just meetings, they were five star events at five star locations, and they were choreographed like a Broadway play. I wanted them to be so excited about what we did for them, I wanted them to want to come back, for more of the same the following year.
Because the meetings were generally held on a weekend, I would also invite their spouses, because when you’re away on a weekend, you’re disconnected from your family during your personal time. I didn’t want our meetings to be the reason a family couldn’t spend time together.
This was rather uncommon in business, because if there’s usually a sales meeting, spouses are not included. I not only wanted the spouses there, I wanted them to enjoy themselves as well. This was something the reps and their spouses actually looked forward to, since we made it such a treat.
And we included the spouses, because they knew if they wanted to go back, they had to kick the reps into action. It also helped that I treated the reps as businesspeople, not as salespeople, because they were business owners.
So I developed a reputation that you never turn down an invitation to a Dave Marshall event. Whether that was a sales event or an association event in which I played a part, it was known in the industry as always being first class.
And by treating people like Jack well, and like a real business person, it created a great personal relationship for us, even when I had to sever our professional one.
I made sure there was no bridge burned; it’s never been my philosophy to burn a bridge. This has absolutely helped me in the past. I’ve been able to enter new relationships with people. Jack was one of these people, and I was especially proud and happy after receiving his nice note.
What kinds of relationships do you have with your trading partners? Do you have some outstanding ones that you would work with, no matter what? Share some stories in the comments below.
I’ve been a manufacturing executive, as well as a sales and marketing professional, for a few decades. Now I help companies turn around their own business. If you would like more information, please visit my website and connect with me on Twitter or LinkedIn.
Photo credit: Maltingsberwick (Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons 3.0)