December 5, 2008

The Future of Selling

 By Joe Salimando

 It’s not easy to sit through the first session that follows lunch at a typical industry meeting. Post-meal, the human body just wants to walk away from anyone making any noise, find a safe quiet corner, and nap. But it’d be a safe bet to say that those who attended at least one of the post-lunch sessions at IDEA’s 2008 E-Biz For um, held in Washington, D.C. in September, had no trouble staying awake.

Andy Fedun, whose experience includes time with ASCO and Rumsey Electric and who is soon leaving his consulting firm to go into alternative energy, presented "The Future of Selling-Are You Ready for This?" In the presentation, he offered a vision of the future that explains the necessity of what the electrical industry is doing (or trying to do) in its collective e-biz efforts-and why it should hurry up and get it done.

According to Fedun, societal and technological developments are going to drive this industry-and all others-to get its act together on the e-biz front.

Primarily, he talked about the B2C experience. Shopping online leads consumers to certain high-level expectations of a company-and some of these consumers are, or will soon become, electrical professionals and electrical product buyers.

 "Gen X and Y don’t have any loyalty to people or brand," Fedun commented, explaining that they’re loyal "only to information availability and search experience."

Add this up and the e-biz dream- having manufacturer product information in the counter person’s computer match what’s on the company’s website, what’s in its flyer, and what’s in the manufacturer’s catalog-seems to go from "nice-to-have" to "must-have." Fedun’s restatement of this dream is that the industry now needs "one reliable fact, managed in one place, and syndicated to all customer touch points-systematically."

For many, it’s a scary prediction. And while it’s not clear when consumer ex-pectations will drive buyers in the electrical field to expect one heck of a lot more than they are getting, it’s coming.

 Fedun was crystallizing the idea that the electrical industry’s slow progress on attributed data will result in electrical buyers who are unhappy with distributors. The culprits: missing data, conflicting data, and an absence of good data. If and when these electrical buyers get information from one medium that does not match what they were led to expect from another, Fedun said, they’ll be ripe candidates for an alternative source that has its data act together.