In our industry, its easy to miss something. However, one thing Im
noticing is that the best people, organizations, and companies among us
are growing despite the economy and other problems that they might be
facing. They are staying focused, moving quickly and methodically, and
regularly stepping back to observe what is working and what is not.
From observations made at several industry events, one thing remains
clear: its not a good time to take your eye off the ball or abstain
from examining your business. For sales representative organizations
that means continuing to advocate what youre doing, while remembering
your role as a sales generator through relationship building.
On the manufacturer side of the equation, growth is still occurring.
But, so is belt tightening, with speed and efficiency directing many
corporate moves. In Darryl McCumbers accounting session at the recent
CEDIA Management Conference in San Diego, while encouraging attendees
to shift their emphasis toward more profitable services (installation,
programming, etc.) we found that many in the audience had exceeded his
expectations by already moving beyond the metrics suggested in his
On the CEDIA Associate and Affiliate Member Council, we recently
received enthusiastic support for creating a Distributor Action Team.
Then, on the representative side, in just the first quarter of this
year IPRO (www.avreps.org) continued following its plan to build deeper
relationships and attend key events with industry partners including,
CEDIA, CEA, NEMRA, MERA, and ERA.
At the KA Marketing Expo in Dallas during the first week of March, we
filled our CEDIA certification class on networking and held an industry
forum with key industry members on the panel including, Andy Willcox
(CEDIA past president and consultant), David Rogers (founder, Dallas
Sight and Sound), and Bill Skaer (principal, Eric Grundelman). After
reminding everyone that next year will be CEDIAs 20th anniversary, it
was clear that many had been thinking about where weve come from,
where we are now, and where were going. However, what was also clear
is that much discussion needs to continue.
As these discussion panels illustrate, many in our industry are still
not aware of the legislative, standards, IT, and technology issues yet
to be resolved. For reps, it is important that we all maintain a handle
on this. As daunting a task as this may seem, I dont know any better
way of accomplishing this other than continually becoming more
efficientthrough industry organizations and key partnershipsin
obtaining key information, refining your representative organizations
focus, and tenaciously putting one foot in front of the other.
At the Runco Mexico Getaway, Scott Hix, VP and general manager of
Planars home theater business unit, illustrated his understanding of
this when he said that reps are the tip of the arrow. This excellent
analogy reminds us that the representative organization needs to remain
sharp, focused, and aligned with the industrys objectives.
To highlight this point, IPRO organization leaders are researching
possibilities for our channel. As an extension of the idea that
representative organizations are outsourced professional field sales
organizations, NEMRA has not only created representative software
which allows data interchange with contracted manufacturers for each
representative group, but they also have scores of manufacturer members
in attendance at their conferences, where the dialogue and
communication continues to evolve. For our industry, IPRO is looking at
how this software might be implemented for IPRO members, as well as
creating a new IPRO Manufacturers Group with minor revisions to the
same by-laws already created by the folks at NEMRA.
Moving From Good to Great
Finally, we need to embrace the uncomfortable act of examining
ourselves and our stereotypes. I have been reading a book off and on
for the last few months, titled, What Got You Here Wont Get You There:
How Successful People Become Even More Successful, by Marshall
Goldsmith and Mark Reiter. As the title suggests, doing the same old
thing is not going to work anymore. Weve grown into who we wanted to
be, but were not done yet. The rate at which we can maximize our use
of dialogue with one another while minimizing our use of stereotypes
about one anothers roles, will determine how successfully we as an
industry move from being good to great.