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Teach Your Suppliers Well

Posted by Todd Youngblood on January 31, 2012 10:31 AM

Editor's Note: This is a guest post from Todd Youngblood of The YPS Group.

None of us can afford to waste time.  Quite the opposite, we’re all constantly on the lookout for ways to save time.  How about some easy pickins’?  The process of customer/sales rep communication absolutely screams for streamlining.

Let’s say you’re an engineer looking to acquire “System X” or solve “Problem Y.”  You’ll almost certainly start with some Internet research, narrow the field of suppliers, then invite 3-5 sales reps for a face-to-face meeting to get into due diligence.  

How different are those 3-5 meetings?  The sales folks have all been thoroughly trained in consultative selling.  They all ask about your goals, your objectives, your strategy, your challenges, your requirements, what keeps you up at night, your decision process & criteria and what you’re looking for in a supplier.  Ughhhh...  How sick of answering the same questions over and over do you get?

Did you ever think about how sick the sales crowd is of asking the same questions over and over?  Or how about the rest of the meeting ritual?

There’s you walking from your office to the reception area - and then back - with the inane chatter - and a stop at the coffee pot - and settling in seats - and swapping of business cards - and thank yous and you’re welcomes...  All before the barrage of repetitive questions.  Ughhhh...

It gets worse!  The complexity of most decisions these days means you need to involve colleagues, bosses and subordinates; you’ll use a “decision network.”  All of the above gets repeated 3-5 times by multiple other people in your organization.

There’s a better way.  A few of the more advanced sales organizations are beginning to use a concept known as “e-Rep .”  The notion is to embed the knowledge, insight and experience of the sales professional into electronic formats: text, image, audio, video and combinations thereof.  That information is then available to you on-demand, at your convenience, 24 X 7 X 365.  If it’s good stuff, you can forward it along to others in the decision network.

The concept applies to the buying side of the equation as well.  Back to the example of the engineer looking for a solution...  Answer all those standard questions about goals, objectives,  features, functions, specifications, etc. in a short video, for example.  Do it just once! Then send it to your long list of potential suppliers and take it from there.

Figure 15 minutes per meeting gets burned with walking, greeting, business card exchanging, etc.  Take 5 sales reps X 5 people in a decision network and over 6 hours goes out the window never to be seen again.

Seems like a no-brainer to me.  And that’s only considering the very beginning of the buying process.  As a customer, it only makes sense to insist that your suppliers begin using the e-Rep concept right now!  And the best way to start is to create your own “e-Buyer.”

Todd Youngblood learns quickly & shares everything he knows.  Thirty plus years of methodical, relentless, “Think – Act – Analyze – Repeat” in the sales and marketing wars has generated an outsized mass of field-tested knowledge and insight.  His education continues.  Learn more at

Topics: automation solutions, sales process, solutions