Section: Newsletter Articles
What Are the Steps to Consolidating Company Brand?
During the AHTD Marketing Minutes at our “Better Together” Fall Meeting in Colorado Springs, we talked about Branding. We discovered: 1. Branding Done Right and Branding Gone Wrong; 2. Steps to Consolidating Company Brand; and 3. The Whys and Hows of Personal Branding. Today’s article will focus on the information contained in the second talk: What are the steps to consolidating company brand.
The Hows and Whys of Creating an Employee Advocacy Program - Part II: Essential Tools and Supports
One of the most overlooked elements in any organization’s social media strategy is its own team. While social media is often about looking outwards at prospects and turning them into happy customers and advocates, employees at your company could be the key to unlocking more followers, improving engagement rates, and ultimately, generating more business.
The Hows and Whys of Creating an Employee Advocacy Program - Part I: Essential Systems
Marketing has always been about creating demand for something by cleverly attracting and keeping people’s attention. We need to EARN that attention. Is that only the domain of your Marketing Department? Absolutely not.
MRA Talent Report: June 2022
The ‘MRA Talent Report’ has several interesting insights on workforce information and innovation from MRA’s member organizations. You may find some of these quotes, data, and factoids helpful in conversations with your own executive team related to attracting and retaining talent in today’s labor market.
Post Pandemic Trends for AHTD Members
As we stumble our way out of the worst of the pandemic, automation distributors face several new challenges. For example, by early to mid-summer, most realized the delivery issues associated with getting products to their customers were not destined to be short-lived. This could not have come at a worse time. Further, both distributors and their supply partners had felt the impact of other pressure points on the business. To better understand these phenomena, River Heights Consulting launched a major research project to apply some metrics to the changes.
The Whys and Hows of Personal Branding
It may seem foreign to think about brand as it relates to people, but we all have a personal brand too. You, too develop your brand every single day, during every interaction with a client – indeed, with everyone you come into contact! Whether intentionally or accidentally, All. Communicate. Brand.

It is what people know you for – who you are, what you know, what you have accomplished, and how you present and carry yourself. And it is developed differently from that of a company brand. Personal brand is the result of past activity and already exists at the time we first become aware of its existence, so managing and reshaping personal brand requires deliberation and consistent effort.
What is Branding and the Benefits of Doing it Right?
During the AHTD Marketing Minutes at our “Better Together” Fall Meeting in Colorado Springs, we talked about Branding. Today’s article will focus on the information contained in the first talk: What is Branding and the benefits of doing it right!
President Signs Bill Signaling COVID Relief Is On the Way
On December 27, 2020, President Trump signed The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, which is the latest COVID-19 emergency relief package providing support for small businesses, schools, health care providers, renters, direct stimulus payments, vaccine distribution, and more.
AHTD Members Share & Inspire: Sumitomo Machinery Corp of America
Sumitomo Machinery Corp of America donated an estimated 4000 LBS of food, diapers, and other personal care items to the Mayflower Marathon Food Drive. The Mayflower supports the Foodbank of Southeastern Virginia and the Eastern Shore (a member of Feeding America). This local foodbank had to cancel major fundraising campaigns due to COVID -19 and we are proud to help them in their time of need.
AHTD Members Share & Inspire: Shingle & Gibb Automation
Shingle & Gibb Automation is excited to support the Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Program for our 13th year! Our Moorestown, New Jersey location is an official drop-off site, where community members, Shingle team members and supplier partners can contribute to the Toys for Tots program which has provided 584 million gifts for more than 265 million children since 1947.

For the past several years, Shingle's CEO, Brian Lepsis, has recruited a group of team members to head out and do some serious shopping to fill up multiple shopping carts with toys, games, bicycles and more! The team at Shingle & Gibb is committed to helping very deserving children experience the joy of the season.
AHTD Members Share & Inspire: Ringfeder Power Transmission
Given the situation with COVID from lockdown to job loss the Ringfeder Power Transmission team decided that we could do something to help, even if just a little. We decided to use the funds that would normally go to our Christmas Party (COVID cancellation) to provide bikes to the Marine Toys for Tots program.

Our team purchased 26 toddler sized bikes that were delivered unassembled to our Westwood, NJ office. As a team, we spent the better part of the short Thanksgiving holiday week assembling, adjusting, and preparing the bikes for delivery. Everyone in the office participated knowing that the bikes were going to a great cause. The final step is to deliver the bikes on December 2nd giving the program volunteers plenty of time to get the bikes to the families that registered with the program this year. We understand that this year more families are registering for the Toys for Tots program given the difficult times everyone is facing. We are grateful that we can help make someone’s Christmas a little brighter.
Hiring the Entry Level Salesperson
For years, I’ve been asked what to look for when hiring an entry level salesperson. By “entry level,” I mean someone who has never held a professional selling job before. My advice to my clients has always been, “Don’t,” for one simple reason. Most of my clients are in the small-to-medium sized range of companies, and most are not set up to teach someone how to WORK, not just to sell. And make no mistake, you have to teach entry level salespeople to work.

Plus, screening entry level salespeople is much different than screening an experienced salesperson. “Gut hires” are far more common because there isn’t a track record to fall back on in evaluating a candidate. And gut hires have a high fail rate – over 2/3. So, let’s suppose that for whatever reason – economics, talent pool, customer types – you need to hire an entry level salesperson? Here are some guidelines to implement...
KYKLO Celebrates
KYKLO has lots of reasons to continue celebrating after 4th of July, with signing their 9th manufacturer partner! KYKLO recently announced their partnership with Balluff, a leader in automation and industrial sensors. On top of this great news, June 23rd being International Women in Engineering Day, some of their female engineers shared their experiences in the engineering field and how that differs from their work at KYKLO.
Top 10 Reasons Distributors Choose DDS
Adapted from a bold and informative blog series, this e-book is a consolidated version of our “Top 10 Reasons Distributors Choose DDS” list—aimed at explaining why more and more distributors are choosing DDS as their partner for next-generation e-commerce product content. As recent events have certainly emphasized, your customers (as well as your own sales staff) need access to more and better product content online, and to put it bluntly, DDS can deliver it like no one else in the industry can.

Through this “Top 10” list, we’re sharing some detail about our process and our philosophy, first to help guide distributors through the challenges and opportunities of e-commerce, and second, to educate the industry as to how our product content and related solution offerings differ from—and are superior to—that of other providers.
Why Connect with People on LinkedIn?
At the risk of stating the obvious, connections matter. This is not a new concept for those in AHTD because networking is one of the main benefits to be gained when joining the Association for High Technology Distribution!

Connecting with other industry professionals gives a variety of benefits, including access to a group of industry experts with valuable business experience, exposure to related businesses for partnerships, joint ventures, and areas for expansion, and mentoring opportunities to share and exchange insights that help future leaders in their progress.
Why Check Your Notifications
If you haven’t noticed already, you soon will notice that LinkedIn has started letting you know there is information and some messages on the platform targeted especially to you. These alerts come from the LinkedIn algorithm noticing your activity, from following companies, and from your connections.
How NOT to connect on LinkedIn!
While I’m not a negatively-focussed person, sometimes knowing what NOT to do can help us all focus on best practices. We’ve all seen it: See those “form letter” signs? The weird reuse of my name, the attempt at being casual, the obvious use of the exact LinkedIn rendition of our company name, its uncomfortable repetition, some over-inflated promises to try to lure me into allowing them to practice their pitch.
Why Connect on LinkedIn?
I hear from a lot of people that they have set up their LinkedIn profile, but, since it is really just a platform for getting a new job and they are not dissatisfied and looking to find another, they don’t need to spend any time on this Social Media network. Well, I am here to tell you that this is NOT TRUE. While job hunting may have been the original reason for getting you signed up, there are other great reasons to be involved on LinkedIn! Did you catch that last one? If there is one thing I don’t have to impress upon AHTD members, it’s the power of networking. When we cannot be together in person we can stay connected on LinkedIn!
MRA Shares Survey Results: Adjusting to the Newest COVID-19 Challenges
Click here to access the results of MRA's recent Hot Topic Survey. As the world begins to move toward post-pandemic life, organizations that participated in this survey indicate that policies and work environments show optimism toward returning to familiar times.
KYKLO Adds New Manufacturers to Their Library
Like the swallows returning from their 6,000-mile trip to Argentina to the mission at Capistrano, face-to-face association meetings are returning. We are so happy about the situation that we are walking around the office with giddy smiles and goofy grins on our faces.

We attended the Spring 2021 AHTD Meeting. For everyone there, this was a sneak preview to the “New Normal”. Masks were at the ready, hand sanitizer showed everywhere, but the painful dread of a COVID cell sending us to the hospital was not blatantly hanging over our heads. Most of the attendees had at least one of their vaccinations and while precautions were taken, the atmosphere was abuzz with normalcy. We enjoyed the session.
Drive Sales and Stand Out from the Competition with the Superior Product Content Your Customers are Asking for—Delivered in the Precise, Web-Ready Format you Need
DDS (Distributor Data Solutions) is the leading e-commerce product content provider serving the wholesale distribution industry. Developed by veterans of the industry, DDS helps manufacturers and distributors facilitate an exceptional e-commerce experience for their end-user customers with the most robust product and marketing information—and the most intelligent, efficient content delivery system—available in the marketplace.
Dons Won't Wear Shorts
I loved the HBO show, The Sopranos. I’m a bit of a Mafia aficionado; I’ve been fascinated with that culture ever since my grandmother (!) gave me a book by Jimmy “The Weasel” Fratianno to read when I was 16. In an early episode of The Sopranos, James Gandolfini, playing Tony Soprano (the main character and the leader or “Don” of the Soprano mob) was hosting a barbecue in his back yard for other mobsters. Tony manned the grill while wearing Bermuda shorts, and this prompted a visit the next week.

As Gandolfini told the story, at a shoot the next week on location in New Jersey, he was approached by a man that was obviously a real-deal mobster. The man walked up to Gandolfini and said that he loved the show, “But Jimmy,” the man said, looking dead into James’ eyes, “Dons don’t wear shorts.” Gandolfini took it to heart, and Tony Soprano never wore shorts again in a Mob gathering. In fact, this became part of a Sopranos episode later when Tony was reproached by a boss for the shorts. What the mobster meant, of course, is that when you have that kind of a leadership position, you can’t afford to look too casual to those that you are supposed to be leading. It’s a lesson that’s often forgotten.
Latest COVID Relief Extends FFCRA Tax Credits and Other Employment Related Benefits
On March 11, 2021, President Biden signed the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, which is the latest COVID-19 emergency relief package providing support for small businesses, schools, health care providers, renters, mental health and substance abuse care, direct stimulus payments, vaccine distribution, and more.

There are a few key provisions affecting employers, including...
How to Gather and Better Use Lead Intelligence
A few years ago, “Big Data” was one of the top queries in Google search. The funny thing is, most people understood what big data was, but didn’t do anything about it. It’s time B2B companies start leaning on both primary and third-party data to better understand who's interested in them and get more proactive in using that newfound intelligence. Here are some tools that will help give you and your team a better glimpse into the users on your website. And what you can do about it.
Communication Memo to Employees Encouraging COVID-19 Vaccines
XYZ Company continues to support its employees during this pandemic and expects all employees to act in a socially responsible manner to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19. The safety and security of all employees, customers and the communities where we live and work remains our top priority. As vaccination efforts continue to evolve, we have received inquiries from employees about how we will approach vaccinations within our facilities and have outlined our response below.

Each state has its own plan for vaccine prioritization, distribution and allocation, working under general guidance provided by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). As the COVID-19 vaccine becomes more widely available, we encourage and support employees who choose to receive the vaccine when they become eligible. In support of this interest, XYZ Company has committed to the following...
COVID-19 Vaccine Interest Pulse Survey
Pulse surveys are a tool for obtaining feedback on a specific topic, such as employees’ interest in receiving the COVID-19 vaccine. The survey should be short so you can quickly summarize the results and take action, if necessary. If available, utilizing automated survey technology is an effective and efficient way to administer the survey.

Pulse surveys are a great way to gather information that require immediate attention. Most importantly, they remind your employees that you care and are interested in finding solutions, which increases the likelihood of engagement.
How Are Your Fundamentals?
Don’t get me wrong. There are many very strong businesses that have had severe hardships due to the restrictions imposed on us during the last year, some of whom have, unfortunately, failed. But – one thing that the last several months should have done is to emphasize the importance of fundamentals in your sales program. There are still companies out there succeeding and making sales in nearly every industry, and they are doing so because they had the fundamentals of sales covered. Here are some of the fundamentals you should have in place...
AHTD Members Share & Inspire: Valin Corporation
Different offices of the Valin Corporation proudly supported local charities this holiday season donating food, gifts, and money to make a difference in their communities.
AHTD Members Share & Inspire: Sure Controls
Each year, the Sure Controls’ staff raises money through various fundraising efforts including collecting donations for snack items and company-wide raffles. The money collected allows us to adopt a family through the Salvation Army to provide gifts for families who are unable to afford them. Our elves put out the gifts so staff can see what their donated money has purchased before staff members wrap them up and deliver them to the Salvation Army.
AHTD Members Share & Inspire: Lakeland Engineering Equipment
When our annual employee holiday potluck dinner was canceled due to COVID, the employees at Lakeland Engineering Equipment collected money and pooled their resources to donate to Second Harvest. In addition, we filled a bin full of toys for the Toys for Tots program so kids have presents to open on Christmas day.
They Can't Buy From You If They Don't Know You Exist
Let’s get real about prospecting. Prospecting has changed – right along with everything else in selling. And as salespeople and managers, we have to adapt and overcome those challenges, but certain things remain true. As the title says, they can’t buy from us if they don’t know that we exist. And, if you view prospecting as the most direct way to make sure that potential customers know that we exist, you understand how it fits into our sales matrix.
In our B2B world of selling, we have one great advantage – we know (or should know) who our potential customers are. We don’t have to broadcast messages and hope that our potential customers reach out to us – and yet that’s what entirely too many salespeople still do. I’m not big on a “crank it and hope” philosophy, so let’s dig into the realities of prospecting today.
AHTD Members Share & Inspire: Smart Vision Lights
Smart Vision Lights is proud to support the efforts Muskegon Rescue Mission. SVL employees recently held a food drive for this important organization. MRM serves men, women and children from all walks of life. Individuals and families come seeking help. MRM also receive referrals from the Department of Human Services, churches, community agencies, police, area businesses, and individuals. Guests primarily come from Muskegon County, however, there are no geographic restrictions.

Dan Skolund, Executive Director of Muskegon Rescue Mission, shared this about SVL’s donation, “Thanks so much for your support. The work everyone at Smart Vision Lights does to support the mission and care for our guests is amazing. We are grateful for your partnership!”
AHTD Members Share & Inspire: Wade Antenna
Giving back to our community and to a worthy cause, the Wade Antenna Bros (and Gals) grew funds for the annual Movember Charity Event to support Men’s Health Issues, our team sported the staches (either authentic or on masks for the ladies) throughout the month of November and raised over $2000 for the cause.
AHTD Members Share & Inspire: Murrelektronik
?When facing a global pandemic and resulting economic downturn, among other sources of turmoil, an announcement of unprecedented company success is not what you might expect. And yet, that’s exactly why we’re writing this.

Earlier in the year, like many companies, we had to transition to a new way of carrying on business. Our tradeshow appearances and conference attendances were all put on hold or cancelled, the majority of our employees had to learn how to work remotely, and our favorite way to interact with customers—sharing a handshake and a meal—had to be sacrificed in order to preserve the health of our organization and theirs. This year hasn’t been easy, but if there’s anything we can say when looking at the numbers, it’s that we found incredible success in a time when we might have expected it the least.
AHTD Members Share & Inspire: Kollmorgen
It’s definitely a challenging time, but all things considered, things are going pretty well for us at Kollmorgen. I thought the AHTD membership might be interested to see a recent article in The Virginia Economic Review that profiled our organization and the fight against COVID-19. Kollmorgen’s feature begins on page 86.
What You Missed at AHTD’s Fall Meeting 2020
First a bit of background. My very first AHTD experience dates to 1992, which is hard for me to fathom. I attended the meeting based on the recommendation of a long-time friend and president of the association–Terry Miller. I do remember Terry’s words ahead of the meeting, “The AHTD presenters will open your eyes to new and better ways of doing business, but the insights of the other attendees will blow you away.” Terry was right.

One of the first people I accidentally ran into at the meeting was Bob Dietz, who was a past president, one of the founders of AHTD, and a successful businessman. He was also 20 years my senior. He was confident, charismatic, and impressive to be around. During a brief conversation, Bob said something that still plays in my mind nearly three decades later. “The people in this room are the brain trust of our industry. Ask them questions. Listen to what they say in conversations. You’ll be surprised at how their thoughts can help you.” As a guy yet still a couple of years shy of 40, Bob was everything I wanted to be, so I listened. I still do.
CIMON: Focused on the Future
Henderson, NV: With leading technology in automation and over two decades of experience, CIMON is generating an identity that separates us from our competitors. CIMON is retaining the same integrity and quality of functionality, while also providing the expedited engineering that is desired. In addition to staying open during these trying times, we have expanded our team while retaining the support customers desire. This confidence radiates from our commitment to providing high quality industrial automation products such as programmable logic controllers (PLCs), human-machine interfaces (HMIs), supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA), and industrial PCs (IPCs). As time races on, we see ourselves as a solutions provider that is not limited to an industry of four categories.
Selling in 2020 – What Isn't Changed?
First of all, mea culpa. I’m as guilty as anyone else of what I’m about to write about. I’ve been focused, as so many other sales authors have been, on what’s been changing during 2020 (and the years immediately preceding). And it's true; the changes have been significant. We’ve seen entire industries being rocked or overturned. We’ve seen travel restricted or in some cases prohibited. We’ve seen technology take over some phases of selling. And yet…..there’s a lot that hasn’t changed about selling. That will be the focus of this article.

People are still buying things.

Salespeople are still selling things.

And the customer’s basic buying process is still intact. Customers buy things in a defined five-step process.
Marketing Minute Article Four
Time to tackle what to post and what to say.

One of the most paralyzing aspects of participating in social media is deciding what to post and what to say about what others post! Take a look at the types of content generally accepted on each of these social media networks. What achieves the best network engagement on LinkedIn?
Marketing Minute Article Three
What are 3 simple things you can do today to improve your LinkedIn?

Our "AHTD Marketing Minute" segment from Fall Meeting 2020 in Salt Lake City received great feedback.

Read Mara’s next suggestion to get us making the most of LinkedIn...
Marketing Minute Article Two
Wondering what to do to make sure your posts and comments reach specific people, companies, or people with specific interests? Here’s another recap from our "AHTD Marketing Minute" segment from Fall Meeting 2020 in Salt Lake City.

This is where the social media convention of using @-mentions and hashtags (#) come in.
Marketing Minute Article One
During our AHTD Fall Meeting in Salt Lake City’s new feature called the "AHTD Marketing Minute", we talked about:

1. What to do to be effective on social media.
2. What to do to make sure your posts and comments reach specific people, or people with specific interests.
3. Three simple things you can do today to improve your LinkedIn profile.
4. The most paralyzing aspects of social media: Deciding what to post and what to say.

Today’s article will focus on the top of the list.
Turnover - The Silent Sales Killer
Turnover is one of the least recognized ways that companies lose sales revenue. Here's why.

I answered the phone this afternoon, and an earnest voice said, “Hello, Mr. Harrison? This is Chris (last name eliminated), and I’m your new representative with (Company X). I’m calling to introduce myself, and to see if we could set up a time to chat, so I could learn about your business and we could see if (Company X) could do more for you.”

Company X is a vendor with whom I have done business for six years. I’m loyal to them because they provide a service that helps me a lot. I spend quite a bit of money with them, and I’m sure that when Chris looked at my account, he figured he had a pretty solid customer and a good sales call. That’s why I’m sure that my response was a huge surprise to him (and it might be to you, as well).
Are You Spending Your Management Time, or Investing It?
I can spot a Tom Hopkins' disciple (or for that matter, a disciple of a Tom Hopkins' disciple) from a mile away. They use “sales words,” like calling a contract “paperwork” or calling the price an “investment.” In today’s world, it’s like a wet towel across the face of your buyer, letting them know that they are dealing with a “Salesperson.” But that’s not the topic of this article.

You see, the word “investment,” and it’s closely related word, “spend,” really do have a heavy bearing in the world of sales management.

According to Webster’s, “invest” means “to expend money with the expectation of realizing a profit or material result.”

“Spend” means “to pay out money in buying or hiring goods or services.”
Managing Your Way to the Top
Now is your time to become a leader. AHTD is molding the leaders of tomorrow through the organization’s Future Leaders Program. This cutting-edge curriculum is a comprehensive, practical approach that develops the skills necessary for up-and-coming industrial automation leaders to succeed and thrive in their trade.

The Future Leaders Program captures the magic for the next generation of high performers and is for anyone driven to be a trailblazer in the industry.

Through a series of courses over 19 months, students meet in-person during AHTD’s semi-annual conferences, connecting with others in the same space and getting real-world examples. After the in-person sessions, program participants experience AHTD’s sought after networking opportunities while at these events.