The 2020 Mid-Year Economic Update_long

Manage What You Can Control: A Solid Strategy for the Back Half of 2021

Despite the challenges around inflation and supply chain, many distributors are focused on improving talent management.
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If you’ll recall, top themes that came out of the first quarter’s MDM-Baird quarterly survey included inflation concerns and supply chain struggles. It’s more of the same for 2Q21, including the fact that distributors still remain optimistic about growth. There is good reason for the optimism: The second quarter ended with revenues 7.7% above Baird’s forecast, with a two-year stacked growth of 10.5%. Revenue growth outlook — at 9.9% in 1Q — is now 14%, according to the survey of more than 500 distribution industry respondents. Read more details in the July 25 issue of MDM Premium’s feature story, “Distributors Continue to Mount Comebacks in 2Q.”

Right person, right seat

This quarter, we asked survey participants to share their priorities for the remainder of 2021. Interestingly, despite the challenges around inflation and supply chain, many responses revolved around improving talent management. It makes sense: Manage what you can control. And you need the right people to navigate the uncertainty we’re still facing around COVID-19. 

A sampling:

• “Bringing more professional people on board to continue to advance the organization.”

• “Find, hire and train our people while providing a clear path to advance.”

• “Improve organization and efficiency. Must get more done with smaller workforce.”

• “People are the priority. We aim to continue to have focused interactions, using all the tools available to us, with our customers, employees, and other partners in a post-COVID world to be a better supplier, employer and company overall.”

• “Recruit qualified candidates to replace retired or retiring employees, and fill our future needs.”

This spring, Bharani Nagarathnam, Ph.D. and associate director of the Master of Industrial Distribution Program at Texas A&M University spoke with MDM about the best ways to recruit the next generation of talent. Part of his message centered around meeting them where they are. Often, that means establishing or building a regular presence on social media. “I’m sure many already use [social media] to promote your product or services but also use it to promote your culture, your EVPs and your recruitment,” Nagarathnam said. “This is very important for recruiting.”

If setting up a TikTok page to help with your talent-building goals sounds far-fetched, just listen to MDM Senior Editor Eric Smith’s recent podcast discussion with Klaus Werner, CMO at Global Industrial. The distributor has a robust presence on the app that is helping to contribute to the company’s growth goals. 

And if your goal is to strengthen your existing team, look no further than our upcoming Sales GPS Conference. We’ll be back in person in Chicago, November 1-3. The agenda is packed with staff-strengthening sessions. Check it out at mdm.com/2021-sales-gps-conference. I guarantee you will find content that complements your goals for the rest of the year.

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