Commitment to continuous learning and development leads to success
Hunter Starr, CSP
Performance Technical Sales Inc.
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 Hunter Starr, CSP, Territory Manager for Performance Technical Sales.
Starr shared key challenges he encountered after three-and-a-half years in the electronics industry and steps that he has taken to establish a successful career. Here is what he had to say.
Please tell us a little about yourself and what made you choose this industry as your current career path?
I was born and raised in Raleigh, N.C. Growing up, my father was a long-time manufacturers’ rep who would eventually start his own firm. I went to East Carolina University and graduated with a B.S. in business administration. During the Summer while I was still in school, I would help out with the family business and that was my first introduction to the rep industry. Upon graduation, I went to work for an Employee Benefits Brokerage firm in Durham, N.C. After three years and being promoted within the company, I decided that it was time for a new challenge and went to work for Performance Technical Sales as a territory manager.
I have always been fascinated by how things work and helping others. Being able to support local customers on the innovative products that they are designing is really exciting to me.
As a young professional, what are some of the main challenges you encountered as you embarked on your career journey?
Time management and identifying the RIGHT contacts and decision-makers in potential new accounts.
What are some steps that you have taken to overcome these challenges and to ensure that you can establish and nurture a successful career?
1. Reading books like New Sales. Simplified by Mike Weinberg has been really helpful. I was introduced to the idea of “Time Blocking” which has helped me stay accountable to some of the “Non-Revenue Generating Activities” that I struggled with to complete previously. Also, “Owning Your Calendar.” I found that every now and then, I would get pulled into my email first thing in the morning, and then I would look up and it would be already lunchtime. While on some days you need to play catch-up, I found that I was becoming more reactionary to customer needs than being proactive. I switched my Outlook settings to show my calendar when opening instead of email. This makes me think about where I am going to be spending my time this week, next week, and moving forward to drive revenue. Think outside of the (in)box to drive more revenue.
2. Identifying the right contacts and decision-makers within new accounts is still a difficult task. The best advice anyone can give is to remain persistent. There are some tools that I have found helpful in identifying positions and names of employees such as LinkedIn; however, phone contact initially is key in my opinion.
As you developed in your career, what were some training tools that you found beneficial to your professional growth?
Certified Professional Sales Consultant (CPSC or formerly CSP) training by MRERF was a very beneficial training tool for me. Early on, I struggled with asking the right questions. The introduction to the consultative sales approach was a game-changer for me. I also found that visiting the manufacturers’ facilities that I represent to see the production process and tour their facilities is very helpful in the sales process when interacting with potential customers.
What are some industry networking events that you have attended that would be beneficial to other young professionals in the industry?
I have attended the CPSC and Certified Professional Manufacturers’ Representative (CPMR) programs (completed year one), as well as EDS, the ERA Conference, and the Carolinas ERA Chapter Golf Tournament. Our local ERA chapter has been very welcoming and helpful over the past few years. It seems like at almost every networking event I attend, I am learning more about the customers in the area and the needs they may have, as well as establishing targets to pursue with our distribution partners to drive future revenue growth.
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?
As I attend the major networking and industry events year over year, I am seeing more and more young professionals. This is encouraging, but I do think that it’s important for the long-term health of ERA and our industry for manufacturers’ reps to actively recruit younger and more diverse candidates into the industry. Flexibility in schedule, uncapped earnings potential and a technology-driven industry are all attractive to young professionals in my opinion.
How do you see your profession and the industry evolve 10 to 20 years from now?
In the next 10 to 20 years, I am sure there will be changes; increases in the use of Webex & GoToMeeting services in lieu of face-to-face meetings; as technology advances, I could also see customers using 3D printing more and more in the design and production of their products.
However, I feel that there always will be a need by manufacturers to further understand the individual markets around the country for their products which is conducive to the rep model.
Professionally, what keeps you up at night?
I always strive to meet my commitments. As a rep, if I commit to a customer that a final answer on a delivery date when they are line down, or if I commit to having a proposal to them by a set date and it doesn’t get completed, it does bother me. I try to under commit and over-deliver to ensure this doesn’t happen.