January 15, 2018
Source: Electronics Representatives Association
by Brian Flynn
Vice President of Sales
As vice president of sales at Sager Electronics, Brian Flynn leads an organization of 175 inside and outside sales representatives and is responsible for driving his team to achieve Sager’s sales goals. With more than 20 years of experience at Sager, Flynn is well-versed in all areas of the business, from distribution to sales. Many of his years at Sager were spent in sales operations where he is credited with refining and implementing many of the company’s sales processes and reporting. Upon joining sales, he led a number of Sager’s service centers in multiple regions before returning to corporate to join the company’s executive leadership team. Flynn is a current member of ERA’s 2018 Conference Breakouts Sub-Committee.
You can reach Brian Flynn at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If distributors can work with reps to supply information that results in reps getting their deserved credit, they emerge as more advantageous partners.
In our industry today, suppliers want increased value from their distributors, value beyond traditional fulfillment. When that value is delivered in the form of improved design efforts, suppliers have responded by rewarding those efforts with design registrations programs that have largely been successful. This works especially well where the opportunities are discovered, designed and delivered to a customer in a single location.
But how does one motivate and compensate both distributor and manufacturers’ rep salespeople for business that is outsourced or moved outside of their primary sales regions? The answer has primarily been a split commission program, but not enough progress has been made toward a system that rewards opportunity development that leads to a design registration and compensates everyone appropriately.
Distributors may eventually see the quote opportunities emerge from wherever the purchase is taking place, but for reps, if they don’t get the sales in their territory or spend an inordinate amount of time chasing down information, they lose. If distributors can work with reps to supply information that results in reps getting their deserved credit, they emerge as more advantageous partners.
A quality program starts by addressing the sales process from inception to production. The market today is demanding more specialization and specialization costs money. A comprehensive splits program allows for more specialization within the sales team, working backroom engineering while addressing the customer’s point of purchase. Plans should be commensurate with the contributions of each member with design efforts receiving the majority of the reward, but plans should also recognize the service levels required for fulfillment.
Detailed reporting becomes the next pillar of an effective program. The process must allow for early communication, from the team working the design end to the team that will eventually service the business. This is critical in creating customer engagement and future supply chain programs.
The ability to track and reward this design effort without burdening the salesperson with over-documentation allows for more selling time and, therefore, more engaged salespeople. As a distributor, the demand creation aspect of the business often times is a team effort with manufacturers’ representative partners. Manufacturers’ representatives value distributors who cover OEMs where design work is done. The ability of a distributor to provide detailed reporting to a manufacturers’ rep ensures that partners can track business they’ve participated in creating as POS reporting generally lags real time shipments to the customer.
A robust CRM is a critical tool in a split commission program, offering functionality to follow and communicate the work throughout the design process and track book to win business. This is especially so given that organizations may have multiple sales representation involved in a program. With field and inside sales representatives, sales specialists and manufacturers’ representatives all potentially involved in the design to fulfillment process, a distributor’s CRM needs to provide detailed reporting and the necessary tracking to properly compensate all contributors to the win. All of these people involved in the design must be part of the communication flow, and all must be in position to update the opportunity as it develops. To facilitate this, the distributor CRM must contain a base of data of assigned personnel, including the rep in the territory, and the specific folks, both at the rep and distributor, assigned to the OEM and CEM. Also included must be any specialized sales team such as sales engineering or field application engineering, the inside sales team and the managers of all those assigned. When this is done properly and the data are maintained, information flows easily and is inclusive to all the key parties. It also sets up the next evolution, where ideally this information can be provided on distributors POS reports to suppliers.
The sales process can be complex. Take the time to connect the selling strategy dots to engage and reward the sales team. It will definitely pay off in the end.