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Why Were Not Done Yet

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.

Forward Thinking
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 examples.

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 ( 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.

Like Arrows
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.