Inside out

Inside out

By Dwayne Reese

Northeast Regional Sales manager

I love sales, I like problem solving, I like helping people and I look forward to the travel.  If you don’t like being in front of people, it’s not for you, especially in the material handling industry.  You have to be a people person.  It’s kind of like going to a wedding where you don’t know anybody.  At the end of the night, you’ve laughed, danced, talked to the guests and maybe made some new friends.

I started out on the dealer side of the business, in sales and marketing with Morrison Industrial Equipment where I managed and ran their subsidiary MHSS or Material Handling Sales Solutions which was a lead generation company.  We basically changed the way material handling’s prospecting and selling was being conducted by identifying potential customers using ITA Reports and working as inside salespeople to set appointments for outside sales reps. 

Previously, a sales rep would “hit the streets” in their territory knocking on doors looking for sales.  This approach was inefficient at best, with the reps wasting countless hours operating in a bubble of their own creation, often driving past potential customers to just visit an old account.  At MHSS, we devised a system to use the existing ITA data and a team of inside salespeople making cold calls to set appointments which we would send the outside reps on.  The outside guys would arrive at the call prepared to evaluate the needs of the customer and make the sale, not wasting their time trying to get their foot in the door.  Originally, we thought we would be talking to the small mom & pop distributors, but the big companies like Equipment Depot jumped on the idea.  In my ten years at MHSS, we grew from a couple of people to a staff of 30 employees racking up over a million dollars in revenue annually. 

The big takeaway to me is that sales is a team effort that relies on information and communication to create action.

Now that I’ve joined Big Joe on the manufacturing side, my goal is to bring that same philosophy to my dealerships in the Northeast. 

I knew of Big Joe through Morrison who is one of their distributors and I also knew Bill Pedriana through my efforts at MHSS.  The opportunity to work with a company that has a reputation as a solid and productive company that’s easy to do business with is what really attracted me.  Of course, I did my homework, and thanks to all my industry contacts, I got a picture of a company that partners with its distributors, is not combative, and wants their dealers to succeed.  It’s a great feeling to go into a dealership and meet with the reps and only hear positives.  That makes the job easy, it’s a positive relationship, we’re not going in and picking a fight over quotas or parts or any number of the issues that can cause friction.  I really feel that there’s a lot of respect on both ends.

When I was at MHSS, the information we worked with was ITA statistics, at Big Joe the information is training.  I know if I can provide our distributor’s reps with concise targeted training on a truck and it’s sales points, they can take it out into the field and know what to look for in a facility.  They will be able to spot an application where a Joey can increase a pick rate or a LPT44 can do the job for a fraction of the cost and start a conversation about Big Joe.  I’m the go between, I’m Big Joe to the dealers, the first person they call when they have a question, whether its about products or an application.  I feel it’s my duty to get them the answers they need, so they can get on with the business of selling.

Really, what we’re doing is helping the dealers and reps make money.  We’re legit partners in helping them earn a living for their families, and if they’re successful, so are we.

Big Joe inventories trucks so we can ship from our Wisconsin warehouse in a matter of days, because we know the reps get paid when the truck delivers. We also talk a lot about inventories at the dealership.  I want to know what’s selling out of their stock so we can keep their pipeline full, and I want to know what isn’t moving so we can find ways to get those trucks out the door.  Often it goes back to training so the reps see the features in a different light or an application that they’re missing out on.  I like being a problem solver, and I like being a part of a company that has a reputation for finding a better way to do things.

There’s a lot of phone / email / text communications with dealers, networking with account managers, and territory reps.  We have a great product line and a great organization, I’m proud of the fact that you always get a person on the phone IN THE USA who’s eager to help and easy to work with.  I think one of the greatest testaments to Big Joe is that we have a group of established dealers who have maintained long term relationships with us.  Knowing that there are companies out there who have chosen to rep Big Joe for decades says a lot about the way we do business.