Winter 2024 – ERA XCOM Digest
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Kingsland Coombs, CPMR, CSP
Control Sales, Inc.
Sr. Vice President at Large
Embracing the latest advances in digital marketing is an exciting prospect for manufacturers’ representatives. Supported by our CRMs, LinkedIn tools and automated email systems featuring intelligent sequencing, the promise of scalable outreach is not far away. Abundant content from our principals, including videos, NPIs, whitepapers and LinkedIn posts, enhances our digital inventory. Additionally, AI aids in personalized messaging and blog post creation. Outreach at scale, just a few clicks away—sounds simple, right?
However, the reality is more nuanced, especially for representatives who have invested considerable effort in building and maintaining their brand. Your brand is a reflection of your values, cultivated through hard work as a consultant, resource and problem solver. The question then arises: How does your digital marketing strategy align with and safeguard your brand?
Think about your personal relationship with your financial advisor. Would you appreciate receiving stock tips unrelated to your discussed investment strategy? Certainly not. Instead, you desire insights into opportunities aligned with your approach and assurance that your advisor considers your needs amidst evolving technology and industry trends.
For manufacturers’ representatives, leveraging experience in an account requires tailoring digital marketing efforts to align with engineers’ applications. Customizing messaging to project a consultative or educational approach is paramount. Thoughtful sequencing of “touches” is crucial to avoid overwhelming your customers’ inboxes.
When prospecting, customized digital marketing can be an effective piece of a larger account development strategy. Studying the customer website for applications, collaborating with distribution, and consulting with your principal are key to creating high quality customized digital content. The emphasis here is on introducing your brand before showcasing products.
A valuable resource for those venturing into email marketing is Patrick Knoelke’s “Effective Email Marketing Strategies” in the Fall 2021 Representor cover story. The “top tips” and “steps to avoid” remain highly relevant, serving as a guide for initiating successful email campaigns.
In the absence of a one-size-fits-all strategy for digital outreach, the task becomes more challenging yet potentially more rewarding. Custom messaging remains scalable, especially when product interests are identified in your contact database. Collaborating between inside sales and account managers is key, leveraging the expertise of the inside sales team in CRM data and digital tools, combined with the account experience, relationships and technical know-how of account managers. Together, the goal is to scale customized digital outreach consistently with your brand positioning as a best-in-class manufacturers’ representative.
Ellen Coan, CPMR
C C Electro Sales, Inc.
Sr. Vice President/Education
The word “memory” takes us different places. It creates images of songs from Barbara Streisand’s “The Way We Were” or Maroon 5’s “Memories” or beyond. Music usually can go hand in hand with your memories and it can soothe the moment. But what about memories in the workplace? Our understanding or perception of the past can shape our future.
The rep business is built on relationships and those bring memories as we reconnect annually at the ERA Conference or a variety of places in our travels throughout the year. The memories can be funny, sad, embarrassing or uplifting. Relationships and their memories have an enduring impact on our ever-changing electronics industry landscape. Rep firms cannot escape the impact of a loss. This can be the loss of a key employee, the loss of a familiar product or changing market conditions and they all have relationships and memories embedded inside of them. I listened to Anderson Cooper’s podcast “All There Is” about grief and realized it is not always a person you grieve when there is a loss. Our successes and losses influence our decisions, company culture and strategic planning. This leads us to innovate, adapt and move forward.
We gather each February to share and educate each other with the ability to harness the memories and apply them appropriately, giving us a competitive advantage when we can anticipate challenges and capitalize on opportunities. At first, the transition can feel like a loss of control, but it quickly becomes an opportunity to pull from your team the memories and experiences that make-up the dynamic of your firm’s success. There is a fine line between honoring the past and adapting to the future. We all have the resilience, grit, empathy and strategic foresight to take our memories, make decisions, stay accountable and keep building up and to the right.
In the Jewish traditions, during the loss of a loved one, it is common to say, “May their memory be a blessing,” reminding us to remember them often and keep their goodness alive. We all lost a great friend in Chuck Tanzola. His goodness will be forever alive in our memories of him. As you get buried in the daily business successes and setbacks and adapt with your team, remember to take a breath and enjoy the gifts around you. Together we are better.
Sr. Vice President/Manufacturers
Our electronics industry is a dynamic and ever-evolving sector that plays a crucial role in the global economy. Now that we have begun 2024, manufacturers in this industry are poised to face numerous opportunities and challenges. Based on my research and discussions with several colleagues, this is my attempt to provide an overview of the outlook for manufacturers in the electronics industry in the coming year, highlighting key trends, advancements and potential areas of growth.
Technological advancements: The rapid pace of technological advancements continues to reshape the electronics industry. In 2024, we can expect to witness further progress in areas such as artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, Internet of Things (IoT) and 5G technology. Manufacturers will need to adapt to these advancements to stay competitive and meet the evolving demands of consumers.
Sustainability and environmental considerations: With growing concerns about climate change and environmental sustainability, manufacturers in the electronics industry will face increasing pressure to adopt ecofriendly practices. In 2024, we can anticipate a greater emphasis on recycling, reducing waste and utilizing renewable energy sources in the manufacturing process. Companies that prioritize sustainability will not only contribute to preserving the environment but also gain a competitive edge in the market.
Supply chain resilience: The COVID-19 pandemic exposed vulnerabilities in global supply chains, forcing manufacturers to reevaluate their sourcing strategies. In 2024, manufacturers will continue to focus on building resilient supply chains by diversifying suppliers, increasing local production and leveraging digital technologies for better visibility and coordination. A robust supply chain will enable manufacturers to mitigate risks and respond effectively to any disruptions that may arise.
Shift towards customization: Consumer preferences have been shifting towards personalized products and experiences. In 2024, manufacturers in the electronics industry will need to cater to this demand by offering customizable and modular products. This shift will require manufacturers to adopt flexible production processes, invest in advanced manufacturing technologies and strengthen collaboration with customers to understand their specific needs.
Rising importance of data security: As technology becomes more integrated into our lives, ensuring data security has become paramount. In 2024, manufacturers will need to prioritize cybersecurity measures to protect sensitive data and maintain consumer trust. Implementing robust data protection protocols, fostering a culture of cybersecurity awareness, and adhering to industry standards will be crucial for manufacturers to stay ahead in the digital age.
The outlook for manufacturers in the electronics industry in 2024, in my opinion, is both exciting and challenging. With technological advancements, sustainability considerations, supply chain resilience, customization and data security taking center stage, manufacturers will need to adapt and innovate to thrive in the fast-paced and competitive landscape. By embracing these trends and staying agile, manufacturers can seize the opportunities that lie ahead, shaping the future of the electronics industry.
On a personal note, I want to mention that the passing of my friend and colleague, Chuck Tanzola, an active member of the Executive Committee & Board President of ERA, was a crushing blow for many of us who have worked with him in various organizations. He was a kind, gentle, caring and knowledgeable colleague who always had an interesting perspective on any issue that was being discussed. His input and guidance were instrumental in many ways in making positive changes that have affected all of us in the electronics industry. It was an honor and a privilege getting to know him over these many years. Let us all remember his valuable contributions and may he rest in eternal peace. He will be missed.
As always if you would like to reach out to me directly to discuss this topic or any others that are pertinent to our industry, please email me at email@example.com or give me a call 732-910-1717 anytime!
Sr. Vice President/Distributors
With the turn of the calendar into 2024, we all more than likely find ourselves emerged in the activities of planning business for the new year. And while that activity is often dominated by defining key metrics, there’s also a component on how we continue to professionally develop our respective organizations. With this in mind, I thought I’d try to highlight and reinforce some of the impactful tools, programs and trainings that we can all leverage as part of the ERA community—and they’re quite cost effective as well.
First and foremost, I want to highlight ERA SearchLink.ai. This is a phenomenal prospecting tool and if your sales teams aren’t leveraging these capabilities, it’s a missed opportunity. The tool helps you locate potential new customer engagements, find key decision maker contacts and even identify and recruit new talent to your organization. Whether you are a manufacturer, distributor or rep, customer base expansion is on the top of everyone’s list and this tool can aide your collective team’s effort.
I’d also like to highlight STEP—Sales Training for Electronics Professionals. We all want to find quality training to assist in the development of our collective sales organization and STEP offers a multi-year video training library for improving both hard and soft skills. Some of the most recent topics covered include: writing emails that get attention, prospecting in the digital world, ten worst presentation habits and how to avoid them and asking great questions and then listening. Feel free to check out the latest content, as well as past years’ content at era.org/step.
Lastly, I’d like to make sure I highlight a couple more tools, that while maybe a bit more repcentric, the content is also transferable. First, the Manufacturers’ Rep Toolkit, which provides a strong case for the rep value proposition in presentation format. Also, don’t forget to leverage some of the white paper content on ERA.org. One of the most recent additions focuses on branding and marketing your business.
I hope I’ve made a case for you to visit ERA.org and explore these and additional programs that our community can leverage. I look forward to seeing everyone in Austin soon!
John Hutson, CPMR
The MacInnis Group
Sr. Vice President/Membership
As we conclude the final act of 2023, it’s an opportune moment to reflect on our triumphs, shortcomings and unexplored opportunities over the past year. Yet, there’s a palpable sense of optimistic anticipation as the curtain rises on 2024, offering a chance to enhance our strategies and accomplishments in the upcoming months. For ERA members, this reflection and renewal are enriched by the comforting knowledge that they are part of a supportive community.
Since its inception, ERA has stood firm on the pillar of providing educational opportunities to empower its members, aiding in the continual enhancement of business practices across the chapter structure. Our organization’s foundation is built on this commitment, with decades worth of invaluable information accessible on our website. It’s entirely possible that the solution you seek to kickstart 2024 has already been contemplated and resides on www.era.org.
Acknowledging the ever-changing dynamics of our industry, ERA diligently maintains and updates existing content while actively creating new educational material to address emerging challenges. If the answer eludes you on our website, rest assured that we are eager to hear from you. Your experience might resonate with fellow members, and ERA is always eager to develop educational content that collectively tackles industry-wide issues.
Networking stands as the other cornerstone of ERA. In a people-centric business, the ability to overcome challenges is often heightened by leveraging collective knowledge. ERA not only provides decades of educational resources but also facilitates connections with industry-leading members. While our website may offer solutions, there’s nothing as rewarding as expanding your network, especially at an ERA event. We encourage you to attend one in 2024.
Speaking of ERA events, the 2024 Conference is just around the corner and there’s much to celebrate. This sold-out event underscores its reputation as a must-attend gathering that embodies the essence of ERA’s two pillars. Visionary reps, manufacturers and distributors will engage in an educational experience designed to share best practices and foster goal achievement in 2024. Keynote session speaker Stacey Hanke and general session speakers Brent Adamson, Crystal Washington, Andrew Busch and Cam Marston are poised to stimulate innovative ideas. Additionally, the Conference breakout sessions promise to be thought-provoking and interactive, providing valuable takeaways. However, the true learning opportunity lies in networking with industry professionals, both familiar faces and new acquaintances.
As we bid farewell to 2023 and extend a warm welcome to 2024, let’s remember not to reinvent the wheel. Instead, let’s capitalize on our ERA membership by seeking collaborative ideas to overcome this year’s challenges, and there’s no better way to achieve this than by participating in ERA events. Wishing you all a safe and prosperous new year ahead.
Cameron English, CPMR
English Technical Sales
Sr. Vice President/Industry