Representor Summer 2021 - Executive Commentary


What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger

by Walter E. Tobin

T: 617-901-4088

I hope that all of you are enjoying the summer and getting to spend some time with your family and friends (remember them?). Things seem to be getting back to normal a little bit at a time: traffic is picking back up, the airlines are packed, airports are once again in chaos. Yet, some parts of this re-entry process feel good. I am sure I will get over this feeling of euphoria sooner than later and become a tired “road warrior” once again.

Last week, I took my first flight since the February 2019 ERA Conference to celebrate the retirement of Bob Evans of EK Micro. I was totally “off my game.” I forgot how/what to pack, what IDs I need to have with me, how to download my boarding pass to my iPhone app, how to request an Uber, etc. How could I have forgotten so much in so little time?

Yet, it all felt good to hug people, to shake hands (I had vowed to NEVER AGAIN shake hands … oh well), to chat with people without a mask, to share some common war stories of the past 15 months. We all seemed to be helping each other get back our A-game.

So, what is ERA doing to help YOU get back YOUR A-game? Plenty!

First, we are a co-sponsor of EDS, which is going to be held in Las Vegas on Aug. 30 – Sept. 2 at the Mirage hotel. This is a do-not-miss event and a perfect opportunity to see old friends, make new ones, and to get back in the game. I expect the show will look pretty normal. Perhaps a few favorite restaurants and bars may be closed or operating on a limited schedule due to staffing issues. However, the buzz at the Mirage will be unmistakable and refreshing.

Second, ERA is conducting its first-ever Virtual Sales Training session, “Sharpen Your Selling Skills” on Sept. 21 – 23. This unique initiative will give all of us a chance to dust off our toolkits, get rid of any rust that we have accumulated and be ready to hit the streets running! I know that ALL of us can benefit from a refresh of our toolkit to help ensure that we are the sales leaders of tomorrow.

We also have begun the planning process of our 2022 ERA Conference, to be held once again at the AT&T Center in Austin, Texas, Feb. 27 – March 1. It may seem like a long way off but, trust me, it takes months to plan for this event making sure we have a great agenda, motivational and educational speakers, and a diverse list of breakout sessions.

But can we take a moment to acknowledge all of the challenges that we have faced together over the past 15 months? I certainly do not want to dwell on all that we have had to deal with and go through. But, WE DID IT! Yeah us! We seem to be on the cusp of a new day for us and our industry. If we learned ONE thing from the past months is how strong we are!

We will need this strength to embolden us to be vigilant as we move out of our cubby holes and reengage to see how our industry has forever changed, how our customers have changed, how they want us to change, and to develop our road map to stay ahead of the change-curve and deliver a strong value to our customers on behalf of our manufacturers.

None of us can afford to or want to go back to the old ways of doing business – driving in a car for two hours each way to see ONE customer is probably out the window! We can certainly have a face-to-face meeting but, more often than not, these would be conducted via video. Video is FACE-TO-FACE!

We can ask our customers what specific meetings or events they want to have IN-PERSON — perhaps a product demo, a lunch-and-learn (although many of you did plenty of virtual lunch-and-learns over the past 15 months). Listen to your NEW customer and let them define how they want you to support them moving forward.

Let us all LEAD THE WAY to help define the new role of the field sales engineer, the best tools on time and territory management, customer profiling, etc.

ERA will continue to evolve and change in this new world. Please let me know what you need from US to help YOU navigate these new waters. We will continue to work hard to provide an excellent and relevant value proposition to our members.

My bags are, once again, packed and my phone (617-901-4088) is always on.

I am all ears.