Message from the president: Do not be that rep – Part 1

By Kimberly Tompkins

One of my mandates as president is to provide mentorship to those coming up in the industry. I cannot stress the importance of mentorship enough. I am sure someone during your time in the industry was a mentor (or provided mentorship), possibly without you even knowing it.

Since I cannot reach the entire readership in person, I thought I could use my column to share some of my grey-haired, hard-earned wisdom as a technical sales representative. I will start with a “do not,” then follow with the “why or why nots.”

Many know what I am talking about, but for those who do not, allow me to clarify in the following list (to be continued in the October Issue). As you read, various names and faces will come to mind in both categories. Possibly mine and, if so, I apologize in advance:

● Talks more than listens. We were given two ears, two eyes, and a mouth; use accordingly. Ears are for listening, not just jewellery or a phone earpiece. By the way, take the earpiece out for an in-person meeting. Listen to understand, not just for the gap in the conversation when you can jump back in. If you do not understand what a client is asking, ask them to clarify; they will appreciate it. Use your eyes to observe the client, their body language and facial expressions, which speak volumes without saying a word.

● Promises more than they can deliver. Be realistic; if there is a six-month lead time, say so. Your client will appreciate honesty and will not be disappointed. Likewise, if your product cannot stop a train, do not say it can, as your client might be in a position where they need to stop a train.

● Claims their product is the best in the world ever! Basically, self-installs. This only works until you change jobs and work for a competitor with a similar product that performs effectively. I was at an engineering firm where I knew one of the principals well. I was presenting to some of their newer people who had no idea I knew the principal. I joked I had a new product which was less expensive, outperformed the competition and basically went on the wall by itself. He said, “Marvelous, we will spec it on everything!” The rest of the group was confused, to say the least.

Editor’s Note: This list will continue in the October issue’s president’s message.

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