In thinking about the blog post I wrote last week on how to be a good customer, I remembered a book I'd read a few weeks back, The Distributor Specialist: Customer Champion, Profit Generator! by Frank Hurtte. Hurtte certainly has the right chops to write a book about managing industrial distribution and using product specialists, since he spent his career, first with Rockwell Automation, and then as a senior manager and finally VP Technology for Van Meter Industrial, the Rockwell Automation distributor in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
One of the ways top vendors like Rockwell, Emerson, Honeywell, Yokogawa and others have captured and held the attention of their customers and their sales and distribution channels is through the use of technical specialists as product sales managers, vertical account managers, and backup to the front line sales staff. Hurtte argues that top distributors and representatives need to do the same things, and will gain great benefit thereby.
Hurtte devotes a chapter to "Selecting the Right Accounts." His thesis is that no sales staff can adequately serve all the potential customers in the territory, which is correct by inspection. His solution is to rigorously select the accounts to concentrate on, for maximum service capability-- leading of course to maximum return. Hurtte is dead right.
And that leads back to being a good customer. Good customers fit Hurtte's profile of being one of the "Right Accounts." Good customers get value add for being a good customer. It must be a two way street.
I recommend, if you are responsible for distribution in the automation business, that you read Frank Hurtte's book. It will make you money. And if you are a customer of a distributor or rep in the automation business, you might find it enlightening too.
You can find Frank here: www.riverheightsconsulting.com.
You can buy Frank's book on Amazon.com and I hope you do.