My Son, the Distributor

April 30, 2008
Three years ago, on the last week of summer vacation, I was seeing my children to bed and my son, Logan, said, “Dad, I think I will go with you on the truck tomorrow.”

Greetings everyone from the snowy state of Maine! I would first like to say how honored I am for the opportunity to contribute to this column and second to say “Thank you” to Nik Satenstein for all of his insight. I have always enjoyed reading “Mobile Motivations” (often first) with great interest.

Three years ago, on the last week of summer vacation, I was seeing my children to bed and my son, Logan, said, “Dad, I think I will go with you on the truck tomorrow.”

I said, “OK,” with great surprise, and told him that it might be a long day. He said, “OK.” The next morning he came into the office ready to go and full of energy.

As we entered the second shop, Logan asked if he could carry the tote bag. I smiled and handed it off. Inside, as I started my presentation, Logan grabbed a die grinder and waited his turn. I stepped back and watched as he did his best to recall all of the features and benefits, stumbled with the pricing and then smiled and asked, “Would you like one?”

Logan sold that one, and six more die grinders that day and, man, his presentation really started to flow.

As the morning progressed, I told him that if he sold a used toolbox that was strapped in the aisle, I would pay him $50. As you can imagine, his eyes went wide and on came a Christmas morning smile. Shortly after the toolbox incentive speech, I started to wonder which one of us was going to have a long day!

Throughout our day Logan approached every technician that we saw without being prompted. Each presentation was followed by, “We have a used box on the truck and it would give you a lot more space, would you like to see it?” We saw a lot of customers that day and sales were great, but Logan never closed his toolbox sale.

That evening, while putting Logan to bed, he said, “Dad, I almost sold that box today. I want to go again tomorrow, I know I can sell it!”

Day two proved to be successful, as Logan found a technician that needed more space and we were able to close the sale and deliver the used box. That night after inventory and closing the day, he collected his $50. At the dinner table Logan spoke with excitement about what a great time he had during the two days and what he learned.

Parents raise their children teaching them right and wrong—imparting wisdom from a life of experience. Through the years, I have always tried to keep an open mind and believe that no matter how knowledgeable or experienced I am, I can always learn something new everyday—whether it be from a new acquaintance, a conversation, an article or a child.

“So what can a 10-year-old teach me about selling tools,” you ask?

As you approach your customers, do you have a smile on? A big smile? A genuine smile? Remember, your visit is a highlight in your customer’s week. The interaction should be upbeat and fun.

Is there excitement in your voice and presentation of your product and weekly specials? I know I am more inclined to buy from someone that is vibrant and confident.

Have you talked to every shop owner, technician, parts man or recon guy? When we started in this business, we talked to everyone we saw about our product. As time passes, we seem to become so busy that not everyone gets that I-just-started-and-I-need-your-business visit.

If you were told that, for the next week, you would receive a bonus for any sale over $100, would you be interested? I guarantee that your next five daily reports would look different.

Having a 10-year-old along for a truck ride was a great refresher course that any distributor should take. Seeing the interaction between my smiling customers and my bubbly son reaffirmed to me that this business needs to be fun for all. Watching the excitement on his face as his presentations started to produce nods of approval to write up the sale brought me back to my earlier days. Not having any prior experience or opinions, my son had no preconceived notions of who was who and who could afford what. That allowed him to approach everyone with vigor—just like a new distributor would.

Having an incentive on the table put my son into sales overdrive and made me realize that every door we open in the course of a day has the opportunity for a new sale, a new customer, a new outlook and a bonus we could all profit from.

There is something to the saying, “The best way to learn is to teach.”

Joe Poulin is a mobile tool distributor based in Gray, Maine, for Mac Tools. Send any comments or feedback you have for Joe by email to [email protected] to be forwarded.

Joe’s business was profiled in the October 2007 issue of Professional Distributor. —Ed.

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