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Get A Grip On Lighting: Playing Rough With the Reps

The guys from the Get A Grip On Lighting podcast respond to an email they received about using lighting reps to help distributors sell lighting. They also get into the three things they want from their manufacturer partners.

Greg Ehrich, LC is the former President of the National Association of Innovative Lighting Distributors (NAILD) and owner of Premier Lighting, a progressive lighting distributorship.

Michael Colligan is an entrepreneur and inventor. He’s a subject matter expert in commercial and industrial lighting supply, lighting retrofits, and finding recycling streams for hard-to-recycle waste.

The Get A Grip On Lighting podcast on lightED is sponsored by Keystone Technologies.

If you want to watch more Get A Grip On Lighting podcasts, you can go to www.getagriponlighting.com.

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Discussion (2 comments)

    Steven Robinson August 3, 2020 / 4:11 pm

    Greg, Michael,
    I didn’t write that email in the beginning but I could have! I even sent this podcast link to just a few of the reps I like so they could see that it’s not just me that has a problem with them. Maybe a few of the smarter ones will use it to make some improvements to their model. Although sadly, I highly doubt it!

    John Temple August 5, 2020 / 8:38 am

    Greg & Michael,

    Lighting agencies are like any other business. There are good and bad, and the good ones do add value.

    In my opinion, lighting agencies primary purpose is to call on the specifying community and lobby them to use their manufacturer’s products. This task is one that electrical distributors (EDs) are unwilling and ill prepared to do. The agency’s secondary role is to sell distributors on the benefits of stocking their manufacturers products. The ED’s reward for supporting an agency’s product lines with local inventory should be the agency’s allegiance on bid day. If you’re a distributor that doesn’t participate in the public bid market, then you may not benefit from relationships with lighting agencies.

    If lighting agents are taking an unfair share of the profit on design/build opportunities, it’s only because we EDs have done a poor job. Sadly most traditional EDs (of which I am one) have largely yielded control of design/build specifications to the lighting reps on all but the simplest of applications. Too many ED salespeople will send all design opportunities to their favorite lighting agency. This arrangement encourages the contractors and end users to develop a relationship and communicate directly with the person adding value, the lighting agent. The result is that the lighting agent is viewed as the subject matter expert and the EDs end up being a billing service.

    When it comes to lighting sales, if we as EDs want to be more than a collection agency and logistics company, we need to invest in expertise. We need to do our own designs and select the best product (both value & performance) for the opportunity regardless of agency. We need to become the subject matter expert on all things lighting and controls. We need to be capable of helping our customers select the best product for their application and budget, and keep them up-to-date on new products, energy codes, and best practices.

    Then and only then will EDs be in a position to maximize the profit potential of their lighting sales.

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