Smarter sales start by knowing what you're going to sell

When Tom Neamon, of Arcade, N.Y., became a Mac Tools distributor in 1988, he received a couple days training and hit the road running. “Jeff Bush was my very first customer. I remember him very distinctly. He wanted a pry bar,” Tom said. “We...

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“You can’t have enough ratchets … One time, I had 80-some ratchets hanging and I still didn’t have the right one that the guy was looking for,” Tom said.

“If you buy them when they’re on sale, that way you can always pass the savings on,” he advised.

The big occassional sales are as important as the everyday sales.

“I like to sell at least one new toolbox per month, minimum,” Tom said. “I’d like to sell one a week, but realistically that doesn’t always happen.

“It’ll go in flurries. You might be able to sell three in a week, and then it might be a month or so before you sell another one.”

Mentoring as motivation

In the past year, Tom has become a Mac Mentor to new distributors with the company and has found it rejuvenates his enthusiasm for Mac and his business.

“I love mentoring young guys; they get me motivated,” Tom said. He wants to help new distributors get off on the right foot and avoid the common mistakes.

“I see so many young guys coming in, and in six months they’re starting to stumble already,” he said. “You need an amount of self-control when you’ve got $5,000, $8,000, $10,000 in your pocket at the end of the week.” As the business is getting established is not the time for boats and ATVs and other toys, he said.

“That’s not your money, yet. You still have an inventory and truck payment,” Tom advised. “When you get your inventory paid off, then you have extra that you should put back into your business to help your business grow. You should build your inventory up to $100,000, and have what the customer needs when he needs it.”

 He watches the numbers closely for the distributors he mentors.

“If he grows inventory too fast, now he’s in a financial bind. If his turn is too slow, he’s in a financial bind. If he puts too much money out on the street, he’s in a financial bind.”

Tom said he doesn’t tell the new distributors what to do, because they are their own bosses. He does advise strongly though.

He helps established distributors with questions as well. He has a running competition with another area Mac Tools distributor, Pete Boldt (the May 2009 Professional Distributor cover story subject). Tom said they talk almost daily and compare numbers and hot products.

Tom was approached by a struggling Mac distributor for advice not long ago, and found that part of the problem boiled down to skipping some shops in his territory.

“I told him to go back to basics,” Tom said. “I told him, ‘I want two new customers on your books, every day. That should be 10 per week. Each one is going to give you $20. That’s going to increase your business. Next week, you’ll do the same thing. Just find one in the morning, and one in the afternoon. That’s all you’ve got to do.’ "

Tom said he’d check back in three weeks; when he did, things were already getting better.

Tom admits being a tool distributor is a great business, if you have the right attitude.

“You can condemn anything. Chevrolet, Ford. McDonald’s, Burger King. Coke, Pepsi,” Tom said. “It’s just what you make of it. That’s where I feel I’ve made Mac Tools, I’ve made Tom Neamon, what it is.

“This is a great business. I thought many times of doing something else, but I can’t find that one thing,” Tom said. “Where can I go and have as much fun as I have? … Making money is an added benefit.

“It’s my show. I want it to be my way,” Tom said. “I have a very loving, caring, giving attitude, and I think that’s part of the reason I’m somewhat successful.

“Make your customer feel wanted, loved, appreciated. Take care of his problems first. If you can’t take care of a customer’s problem, to sell him something else is very hard.

“Be honest; you’ve got to be a man of your word,” Tom said.

“There are tools that I’ll write off. If someone passes away, I won’t go after the family for the balance. … Don’t worry about it. That’s the least you can do for the family.”

At home off the route, Tom hired a neighbor girl to wash his truck, and his wife, Teri, does all the paperwork.

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