Thursday, February 17, 2011

Industry changes

I learned today that I'm losing another one of my good vendor reps. :( This has happened far too often lately. Companies are trying to cut costs by pushing out their experienced reps, the ones that make more money, and bringing in college kids that they can pay a pittance. The rep I met with today has been handling our account for 24 years. Another recent loss had been our rep for 15. Next thing I know, I've got kids cold calling me. They're my age, but as far as the job and our needs are concerned, they are babies. They don't know what they are doing, and have absolutely no product or industry experience. Worthless!

Cold calling... Horrible horrible practice! I don't mind if they call me on the phone and politely ask for an appointment to introduce themselves. That's respectful. These new guys, though, just drop in. As if my time is worth nothing, and their product and pitch should be my reason for living. Needless to say, they almost guarantee that I will have nothing to do with them. Unless they wise up and take our secretary's advice, leaving their card and calling to make an appointment, they've effectively shot themselves in the foot. What are they teaching these people?!

My industry is full of old timers, and is very service based. We don't deal in tech, for example, where there's largely a younger crowd. My folks deal in grease and machines, and most of them began their careers when service meant something. They want to buy from a person, not a company. They want the vendor relationship, not a website. A knowledgeable rep is worth their weight in gold. They can troubleshoot a machine. They know their product line inside and out, and know the best solution/application for any given problem because they've seen it before. They take care of their customer, because their customer takes care of them, because there is a personal relationship. When I buy tech, I buy best price, because there is no rep involved. When there is a good rep involved, price isn't the only variable, because that rep's service and knowledge add value to the end product.

Just the other day, LJ called a local company to get an attachment for our new dryer. He was prepared with the model of our machine and description of what we needed. The sales guy pretty much refused to help him without a part number. They had the means to look it up, he just couldn't be bothered to do it, and thus lost business for his company.

I've dropped long-time vendors when I've lost reps, and gone with someone else, because their service/price package was better. I've also given new kids a chance, if they come in the door with respect and a good attitude. I'm sad to see the changes. Sad to see how good service is becoming a thing of the past, not just in my industry, but everywhere. I'm keeping in touch with my lost rep. Providing he lands with a competitor, they just may find a new customer.


Paula said...

So you're in the buying business. That's what I used to do, so I know what you mean. To a degree; I used to buy tech.

I hope for both your sakes, your trusted rep does land a job with a competitor.

Rae said...

Yup. Been a purchaser in some form or other for about 6 years. I buy very little tech, just the things our IS dept needs, and for the IS stuff it is a mostly online best price sort of buying. I only have a rep for one of my tech vendors, while I have a dedicated contact at the majority of my other vendors. Most of what I deal with is for machine shops, technicians, office staff, facilities, etc.

I definitely have my fingers crossed that my lost rep gets a sales spot at one of his company's rivals. I sure don't want to lose his knowledge and experience. He's been very good to us for a long time.