Tuesday, March 26, 2013

An American Folk Tale with a New Twist

An American Folk Tale with a New Twist



We’ve been thinking about the new salesperson, actually gathering feedback from a number of good folks out there in distributor-land, plus tracking distributor trends.  The combination of all this information and a hearty blast of spicy food sent me to bed with my head spinning – leading to some tremulous dreams.

Dreams can be mighty strange, but I thought I would share this one.

Remember the American Folklore tale of John Henry?  OK, maybe not – let me refresh you.  Here’s the scoop from Wikipedia:

John Henry is an American folk hero.  He worked as a "steel-driver"—a man tasked with hammering a steel drill into rock to make holes for explosives to blast the rock away. He died during the construction of a tunnel for a railroad. In the legend, John Henry's prowess as a steel-driver was measured in a race against a steam powered hammer, which he won, only to die in victory with his hammer in his hand.

My dad used to sing the Ballad of John Henry.  Here’s Johnny Cash’s version:

Now the distributor tie in…
According to Modern Distribution Management Magazine’s Tom Gale, over 21,000 vending
machines were installed by distributors in 2012.  Let me repeat – 21,095 vending machines selling our kind of stuff were placed into customer facilities – mostly by the humongous distributors (Fastenal, MSC Industrial Supplies, etc.).

New age vending machines communicate sales data and other information back to the distributor’s computer system for inventory management and they allow customers to track precisely who used the equipment.

Vending machines solve customer accounting issues.  They don’t solve problems with applications, early wear and tear, or make suggestions for better application of problems.  But, they don’t cost 150 grand to train, they never take vacation days and they never jump ship taking customers with them.

Here’s where you and I come in.  If we are going to add value, solve problems, and all the other stuff we do on a regular basis, we better get darn good at it.  And we better make sure we tell the story in real financial terms, because if we’re just filling bins and fulfilling orders – there’s a machine waiting to take our place. 

Your thoughts?

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