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A New Future: Distributors Refocus Their Sales Efforts

A New Future: Distributors Refocus Their Sales Efforts

LIGHTFAIR 2018 has come and gone. More than 28,000 people attended the event, which included everyone from architects to contractors to distributors to manufacturers.

Many attend the event to see the latest and greatest. When viewing the event website, you’ll notice a photo gallery full of pictures of the event. As you scroll through those pictures, you can’t happen to notice that with more than 500 of the world’s leading manufacturers in attendance, there was certainly something for everyone.

lightED was also in attendance this year and couldn’t help but notice something different among the distributors. We noticed it’s more about the people than just the product. Distributors are learning that they must carry more than just a good product, they need to have the people to support it. LIGHTFAIR offers accredited education classes; they offer courses… However, there’s just something about personal service and someone that will answer all of your questions and needs.

Wes Smith, President of Mayer, was at LIGHTFAIR and agrees. In fact, Mayer is developing a group to do the very same thing. “We are moving from selling products to helping folks run their business better,” says Smith. “We’re not selling just the parts, these parts are computers and I want our buyers to understand what they have.”

Mayer purchases thousands of different items from hundreds of manufacturers. They provide wiring, lighting fixtures, power distribution equipment and other technology-related equipment. But Smith says the industry has changed in so many ways that it really has become not just about the product, but about the services they can offer in support.

Brian Rooney, Branch Manager for Crescent Electric, was also at LIGHTFAIR. Like Mayer, Crescent has been in business for nearly 100 years. Both companies have seen it all when it comes to the evolution of the lighting industry. Rooney says, at this point, most distributors are beginning to realize that sales are being motivated by value services and support more than anything. Crescent operates numerous distribution facilities however, Rooney adds, “Having a quality logistics strategy and product readily available will always be a part of the equation, but is no longer an exclusive driver of success in distribution. Contractors and end users need true partners in today’s marketplace, not just a supply house.”

When both companies began in the early 1900s, the discussion was foot-candles and location. Now, both companies have hundreds of thousands of products online. Combine this with computer support, and there is a need for skilled IT support. Rooney says the push at LIGHTFAIR to showing off “support” over products did not go unnoticed.

While we noticed the change for distributors, will LIGHTFAIR gravitate as well? Will we soon see lighting expos feature more computer engineering classes? Will the giant displays be a thing of the past altogether? It’s apparent companies are selling so much more than just a product. They are selling their people.

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Diane Duenez

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