Distribution executives and sales managers have been lodging the same concerns about their sales models — and sales teams — for many years, says Mike Marks, managing partner of Indian River Consulting Group. And the pandemic has only amplified these all-too-familiar laments.
- “Salespeople don’t do what I want them to do.”
- “I’m trying to get my salespeople to do something new, but the current comp plan hurts them, and it stands in the way of making a change.”
- “My sales team is complacent, and I can’t motivate them anymore.”
Companies that want to address these complaints and more are in luck. MDM’s annual Sales GPS Conference will be back — in person — this fall, and Marks says that any distributor wanting to transform its sales model as the economy begins pivoting away from the pandemic should be in Chicago for the Nov. 1-3 live event.
“If you are concerned about your company, and you’re planning to be there through this transition, you need to be an active player in terms of your own company,” Marks said. “Instead of doing everything in an echo chamber by yourself, it might be neat to see what other people have done and what they’ve done wrong, so at least you’re not making rookie mistakes — you’re making your own unique ones.
“If you’re on the sales transformation journey — if you’ve actually started on the journey — you’ll get to meet people who are a couple of steps ahead of you down the road. You’ll see the crap that they’re dealing with, and you can see what they’re doing.”
Coming to Sales GPS this year, on the tail end of COVID-19, might be the most important one that anyone could attend, Marks added.
“The one thing I think the pandemic has done is put five years of digital transformation into five months,” he said. “The people that haven’t started [sales transformation] yet, in my mind, are pretty much dead men walking, unless they’re in one of those industries, like plumbing, that has been very, very slow to change. Depending on the industry, the game may already be over for some people.”
A dynamic agenda
But the game isn’t over for most — far from it. And Sales GPS is the only event that brings together sales leaders, experts and industry executives involved in the wholesale distribution industry to examine how leading distributors are transitioning to data- and management-based sales models.
The event kicks off Monday, Nov. 1, with a 5 p.m. welcome reception — but anyone wanting a refresher course on what MDM has covered in previous Sales GPS events should attend the pre-conference workshop on Monday from 1-5 p.m.
Marks and MDM CEO Tom Gale will lead this hands-on, half-day workshop that will unwrap the sales transformation best practices employed by hundreds of distributors during the past few years. The pre-conference workshop is for companies that are planning changes or are already well down the path of modernizing their sales process.
Other agenda highlights from the two-and-a-half-day event:
- Sales Model Revolution, presented by Justin Roff-Marsh, founder, Ballistix and author of The Machine
- 3 Innovative Sales Models, presented by Mark Dancer, author and CEO, B2B Innovation Network
- Sales Transformation Case Studies, presented by Kirk Zehnder, CEO, Earnest Machine, and Matt Wisniewski, vice president sales and marketing, Gustave A. Larson Co.
- The Building Blocks of Sales Enablement, presented by Mike Kunkle, VP, sales effectiveness services, SPARXiQ
- The Future of Distribution Sales, presented by Maria Boulden, vice president and executive partner for sales, Gartner
- And much more, including panels featuring executives from leading distributors.
This will be MDM’s first live Sales GPS since 2019 — we held a virtual one last summer — and, as Marks noted, the in-person vibe will make it more productive for presenters and attendees alike.
“It’s very hard to tell jokes in a Teams meeting — and it’s very hard to react,” said Marks, whose quips and anecdotes are legendary in the distribution world. “But when you’re live, and you can pick up these little signals, everybody gets it. We are analog beings living in a digital world, and we just need to hang out together.”