Even the most casual look at Craig Lindsay’s line card provides a deep appreciation for how he’s incorporated the concept of synergistic selling into the work of his agency. Nestled comfortably among the many safety-oriented products that he represents is none other than that all-time favourite sports drink Gatorade.
Lindsay, who heads Pacesetter Sales & Associates Ltd., a Toronto-based sales agency, explains how he makes this uniquely synergistic sale: "Gatorade is just one of the 13 product lines we represent. Sure it’s a consumer-market product and anyone’s first thought is that the sale is being made to an athletic team. But consider that today it’s 91 degrees here in Toronto. With the temperature so high, factory workers begin to perspire the minute they show up for work. If the heat gets to people and they become dehydrated, they can’t function and they’re sent home. By providing them with Gatorade, companies keep their employees working. Hence, the effectiveness of the synergistic sale."
But, there’s much more to the Craig Lindsay. CPMR, story than factory worker’s quenching their thirst with a sports drink.
Part of Lindsay’s responsibilities in his previous position as a distributor was to interview manufacturers who sold their products in Canada, but had no representation in that country. "Very often, we’d see reps that were headquartered in the United States, but no one with a business in Canada," he explains.
"When I realized I might have to make a career change, I contacted a friend, George Hayward, and asked him about this ‘rep thing.’" Hayward, president of United Sales Associates, Cincinnati, Ohio, currently serves as MANA’s manager of international development. Hayward’s first move was to send his friend a book describing the manufacturer’s rep business. Lindsay visited Cincinnati Hayward filled him in on setting up and running a professional rep firm. According to Lindsay, "George convinced me that this was a great career and that I’d be good at it. I responded that I’m going to do it and just two weeks later I had three manufacturing lines to represent."
The lines that Lindsay started with were companies that he was already working with as a distributor. "Naturally there was a certain level of apprehension on both sides as we began our relationship. One of the first steps I took was to write a business plan and share it with the manufacturers. That went a long way toward eliminating any doubts they might have felt about the new arrangement. My story to them was very simple. "Right now, you have no one representing you in Canada. You’re going to need help to effectively market your products in this country. I realize that signing on with one person to represent you across this large country is ridiculous. I promise you that I’ll invest money into the business and not simply stuff it into my pockets.’ I kept my promise to them as I have to all the manufacturers I now represent. Today we have fourteen people spread out across Canada providing coverage to the entire country."
It’s that nationwide professional coverage that Lindsay is most proud of. "Manufacturers realize that they don’t have to go to one place in the corner of the country to find the single rep. Instead, they’ll find representatives from our agency located anywhere from the Atlantic to the Pacific. We are truly national."
Lindsay shares the following ideas tips on achieving and maintaining national coverage:
* Communicate electronically. Having a national presence means that you are dealing with customer and principals in different locations and time zones. Use your cell phone and email systems frequently to stay in touch and communicate actions.
* Develop your mission statement. Part of the message Lindsay’s agency delivers on their website is that the firm provides "quality ‘value-added’ service for a select group of principals in the safety and industrial sectors. The company’s objective is to provide successful sales/marketing initiatives that reach the desired goals of all parties (principal, distributor and end-user).
* Develop a penetration strategy. The comprehensive strategy that Lindsay and his team have put together includes: utilizing "selected" distribution to cover the market; directing end-user penetration in conjunction with distributor sales personnel; developing both distributor field sales and inside sales personnel through constant training and selling initiatives; developing Canadian business plans that harmonize with both principals' and distributor plans; providing principals with market feedback, competitive activities, and marketing ideas; and, targeting and attaining sales goals.
As a final recommendation for the use of manufacturer’s reps in his country, Lindsay offers this analogy: "If you were a United States manufacturer that was looking to impact the market in Spain, how would you proceed. Wouldn’t you want someone who knew the country and its needs? That’s the same with Canada. While we share many similarities, we are different and it takes someone who knows the country to properly meet the needs of manufacturers and customers."
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