Recommended Reading: Don’t Let Knowledge Retire

What are you doing to ensure that institutional knowledge isn't lost when a worker leaves?

There's a common complaint among wholesale distributors these days: The existing sales force is aging – and soon they'll probably be looking at retirement. These employees likely have a wealth of institutional knowledge that exists only in their heads and will walk out the door with them when they go. Technology can help enable information sharing to prevent that knowledge loss, according to Michael DeCata, president and CEO of Lawson Products, in Sales Models: From Lone Wolf to Pack Hunting.

But it can also help improve your sales efforts in real-time, he says. Lawson recently launched an internal social media platform called Lawson Central that enables communication across the company regardless of geography. A salesperson in Seattle can post questions from customers, such as "Does our windshield washer fluid smell?", and another salesperson as far away as Miami can respond.

It's about tapping into a vast knowledge base that reaches across the country, DeCata says. And as that information is shared, that individual's knowledge becomes a part of a shared repository of information.

“The big change, though, was teamwork,” DeCata says. “The big change was through culture, through getting people to recognize they’re a part of a larger team and a larger enterprise with responsibilities to each other.”

The days of the lone wolf salesperson are on the way out, he says. Teams need to understand that they’re connected to each other and supporting each other.

Read more about how the distribution sales model is adapting to a new competitive environment in Sales Models: From Lone Wolf to Pack Hunting, part of MDM's 2017 Distribution Trends Special Issue.

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