Getting in front of the customer — practice makes most people perfect, or better
To gain a better insight into how young professionals in the electronics industry have turned challenges into opportunities and ensured continued success, The Representor interviewed Cody Tangeman, an outside sales representative for Pinnacle Marketing Inc.
Tangeman shared his experience in the electronics industry and how practice and experience can help young professionals gain more time in front of the customer. a very attractive and gratifying profession for young professionals.
Please provide a little background about yourself.
I am 33-years-old and live just outside of Greenville, S.C. I’m married to a nurse and we have a six-year-old who is showing strong signs of having a natural sales ability. As I am writing this, we are at Disney World (her idea) on spring break. I am not disappointed to say that I don’t think we are a Disney family though; tourist traps with a beach are probably more our speed.
I started my career in sales at the age of 21 and landed with Pinnacle Marketing at 25. I have grown and learned quite a lot over those years, but as always, there is still a huge opportunity to continue to grow and learn.
How long have you worked in the electronics industry?
February this year marked my eighth year in the electronics industry.
What made you choose this industry as your current career path?
I didn’t seek out a career in the electronics industry. At the time when I joined Pinnacle, I was selling carbide cutting tools. I also had a brief stint, just over a year, in sales for a customs brokerage and freight forwarding company. Both companies were very large; they were good companies but had limited growth potential unless I wanted to move outside of Greenville, S.C., and at the time, that wasn’t in the cards for me.
Toward the end of my carbide cutting tool sales gig, I was searching for other sales opportunities and I came across an interesting job posting. I can’t exactly recall what the posting said but it described a technical sales position in what sounded like a smaller company and could have leadership potential for the right candidate. It left me interested enough to seek out if I could be the right candidate. After a couple of calls, I met with Perry Thornton and Doyle Evans, where I had a chance to learn more about the role and convince them that I was the right person.
It’s been eight years and I’m very glad I met those great people, and we chose to work together. I really can’t see myself in a different industry or working with a different group of people than Perry and the others at Pinnacle.
As a young professional, what are some of the main challenges you encountered as you embarked on your career journey?
My answer at 25 would have been a lot different than it is today. (I still consider myself young, by the way!) One of the biggest challenges I had at the beginning of my career with Pinnacle was being taken seriously by customer engineers, distributors and other people that I interacted with daily. I think this challenge was mostly self-imposed and came from an insecure place because I was out of my comfort zone. I think, for the most part, the reality is customers, distributors and other industry vets welcome dealing with a younger person who is an industry newcomer. Then it really boils down to doing what you say you are going to do.
My current challenges would be the same ongoing challenges since the beginning: getting in front of the right decision-makers at companies, knowing more about the products on my line card, being a valuable asset to my distributor partners, and managing time.
What steps have you taken to overcome these challenges and to ensure that you can establish and nurture a successful career?
In regard to getting in front of customers and the right customers, I haven’t found a fool-proof method that works every time with everyone. There are many ways to approach different types of customers and practicing those a lot has helped me to be more successful than the 25-year-old me. I don’t think practice makes most people perfect, but it’s certainly made me better.
As for technical knowledge about the products I sell and also best industry practices, this is always a work-in-progress. I try to dedicate specific time to this weekly to continue learning and growing.
If I told you that I have solved time management and overcame that challenge, then I would not be telling the full truth. Thankfully, some things have been brought to light by the COVID-19 pandemic and I’ve become more familiar with everything through the technology that I’ve had access to all along. This has helped, yet time management is still a work-in-progress.
What were some training tools that were beneficial to your professional growth?
I can’t name a specific training tool that has benefitted my professional growth; there are too many to name. I take advantage of most of the training tools that are offered to me. Some are more beneficial than others, but I feel like most reps and distributors have access to training tools and it would be silly to not take advantage of that.
Do you think that there is enough new talent entering the electronics industry and what could make this field more attractive to future young professionals?
It has certainly improved in the past eight years. At my first EDS Summit, I was 26, and I didn’t really run into many young people there. At recent EDS shows, I think to myself that I must be getting older as it seems like there are many people in their mid-20s walking around. I am really hoping that EDS continues their plan to be in-person this year so I can meet some of the industry newcomers!
Professionally, what keeps you up at night?
At the moment, I am concerned about global shortages and customers that have their lines shut down due to product shortages.
On a deeper level, I always contemplate what the sales role will look like in 20 years, given all of the continued and accelerated growth in technology.