The La Quinta Resort near Palm Springs California was the destination as DieQua Director of Sales and Marketing Chris Popp and Motion Products Manager Tom Kahn winged their way west to attend the semi-annual AHTD national meeting held April 24-27.
With motion distribution an important new sales channel for DieQua Corporation, these were important dates on the calendar. And with a unique servo gearbox product line, there was value to be communicated to the motion products distribution industry.
The Association for High Technology Distribution (AHTD), founded in 1985, is a professional organization made up of high tech distribution companies and the manufacturers that make the products they sell. AHTD provides tools, training and unparalleled networking opportunities that help members innovate, collaborate and achieve their business goals.
With settings in some inspiring places (Quebec City was host to the Fall event) the meetings feature educational sessions wrapped around a variety of networking opportunities. Creating a forum for establishing partnerships is a key element of the event. Over 225 distributor and manufacturer representatives were in attendance for the Spring meeting.
The welcome reception set the stage as some old friendships were rekindled and some new relationships were started. The association officers and organizing staff couldn’t have been more friendly and accommodating, introducing themselves and others, making new members feel right at home.
The first full day was jammed packed. It started first thing in the morning with an invigorating and interactive presentation by Boaz Rauchwerger. His message centered around engaging better to create business relationships through using the "5 questions”, maintaining positive attitudes and active personal development using the "Tiberious Success Formula”, and identifying your personal "Unique Selling Proposition”. A few differentiating marketing tips added to the session’s value.
Lunchtime was indicative of another defining element of the AHTD meeting, that being the venue and the amenities they provided. The resort was first class and the food and refreshments provided during the group breakfasts, breaks and lunches were outstanding. Not only did this nourish the masses but offered yet more opportunities to meet other attendees and establish new relationships.
The afternoon session featured author and speaker Jaynie L. Smith and her hypothesis that most companies are not selling what their customers want most. She presented some compelling statistics that what most sellers think are their competitive advantage are valued very little by the buyer. She outlined the importance of learning new ways to identify competitive advantage and understanding how to communicate what is discovered.
Of primary importance to the manufacturer members was the late afternoon Product Showcase where small table top exhibits introduced new products to the roving distributors. Along with the new technology, prime rib sandwiches, other snacks and various beverages attracted the majority of non-manufacturing members to attend the 2 hour Showcase. This was also the time for pre-scheduled meeting to take place.
Friday's program started early with the morning session featuring Brian Beaulieu, who with his twin brother Alan run ITR Economics, an economic forecasting and research services firm. Brian reviewed current trends and how they dovetailed his previous predictions.
He unfortunately foreshadowed an economic downturn in 2014, a rebound in 2015 -2018, relatively sluggish growth until 2030 where he then forecast another lost decade until 2040.
The second morning session featured Rick Farrell of Tangent Knowledge Systems and his mantra, "Selling has nothing to do with selling”. His premise was that the information age has neutralized the traditional value proposition salesman previously held.
He suggests that the new key is to differentiate by how a salesman helps a customer identify his problems instead of how he provides solutions, leading the customer to his own conclusions, hopefully in the salesman’s favor. He also stressed the importance of a salesman’s time resource and urged more customer qualification rather than chasing random, uncertain opportunities.
The meeting continued with various outings on Friday afternoon, a big dinner and entertainment on Friday night and a Saturday morning speaker, Lyn St. James, who shared her story of the challenges of breaking into the predominately male auto racing industry and the lessons it provided.
But by this time Chris and Tom had already departed with valuable new contacts a better understanding of the distributor’s needs, and some new perspective on selling and customer relationship building. They are already planning on attending the AHTD Fall Meeting in Nashville which promises to be another outstanding event.
If you are a motion distributor looking for an extensive gearbox line to expand your customer solution pool or just looking for additional revenue streams, give us a call. If you are an OEM looking to work with our products but through a local high tech distributor, we can help you there as well.
Check out our website at www.diequa.com or call us at 630-980-1133. We are standing by to help you.
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