DieQua's 6th National Sales Meeting Features Comedy and Drama
Whenever you get 25 people together for more than 25 minutes there will always be a level of drama along with a few jokes thrown in by someone to break the tension. In our case it was more poignant as it related to the exercises and activities we engaged in.
In this instance the 25 people were a collection from our inside and outside sales groups who were engaged in DieQua’s recent 6th annual National Sales Meeting held September 19-21, 2013 at DieQua Corporation headquarters in Bloomingdale Illinois. Representatives converged from all over the United States including places like LA in the West, Boston in the East, Traverse City Michigan in the North and Houston in the South.
As has been the schedule the last few years, our field sales group, who are independent Manufacturer’s Representative organizations, started arriving late Thursday afternoon. For the second year in a row weather derailed some travel plans. However, all but one poor soul made it to the Indian Lakes Resort in time for our welcome reception that was taking place at the Shiraz on the Water restaurant and where they would retire to the next two evenings.
Once again Outside Sales Manager Mary Delafeld had an outstanding program planned for the day and a half meeting. While from a technical standpoint our motion products were getting the most coverage, a major theme surrounding customer understanding and communication was the primary under current for every session. This meeting was to focus on differentiating us through how we interact with our customers.
President Mike Quaas kicked off the Friday morning meeting starting with a hearty welcome, a checklist of expectations from both sides and an overview of the recent developments seen from our various manufacturing partners, all of which have production facilities in Europe.
Our Motion Products Manger, Tom Kahn, then updated the crew on our latest Motion Control Products promotions and application tools. This included our participation in the upcoming Association of High Technology Distribution (AHTD) meeting held next month in Nashville where we have joined one of the operational committees and will be presenting our unique solutions at the Product Showcase.
Tom then presented a new fulfillment package that encompassed all our gearhead engineering catalogs into a single binder, cheat sheets for gearhead selection and other support tools. He also unveiled a new online initiative, which includes secure access areas for agents and distributors. Part number development and subsequent pricing are one key element. Self directed online training, with both basic and advanced modules were also introduced using our small servo worms as the pilot beta product.
To support the new Motion Initiatives from the technical side Director of Sales and Marketing, Chris Popp, then presented an overview of the vast array of gear technologies DieQua offers and where they fit amongst each other. In other words, he helped to explain when and where to use each technology. He also reviewed why offering so many technologies are of value to our two main customer types, High Tech Distributors and OEMs.
DieQua’s message is that they offer the most options along with the experience and expertise to help select the best one for our customers. Helping our representatives feel comfortable and confidant communicating our value is a first step in making them valuable to our customers.
In the afternoon Mary Delafeld was again in the spot light as she led a discussion on the most important elements of what we consider our sales process. To be most helpful we need certain information. Gathering and disseminating that information has the challenge of getting the customer and both inside and outside sales all talking the same language and working towards the same goal. It’s never as easy as it sounds.
Friday night has traditionally been the time for a special event where we combine our visiting salesman with the factory and office staff for one big company get together. This year we visited a local war museum featuring the history of the US Army’s 1st Infantry Division starting in World War One and going through Desert Storm. An excellent buffet followed the tour along with some spirited conversations, allowing co-workers an opportunity to enjoy the evening as a social event.
Cantigny Park, which includes the site of the museum and one of the largest display gardens in the Midwest, comes from the original grounds of a Robert R. McCormick (does McCormick Place ring a bell?) retreat. Since McCormick’s death, his estate Board of Directors have continued to expand opportunities for education in these two areas.
Besides the dramatic (that’s the drama part mentioned earlier) historical displays, pictures and audio recordings, the museum houses a piece of the World Trade Center. It was amazing to see how easily something so substantial can get so twisted.
The Saturday morning session was kept a surprise from the visiting sales force. They still didn’t quite know what to expect when we introduced two members of the communications division of the famous Second City Improvisation Troupe. Along with adding a Chicago connection for our national meeting we wanted something impactful, funny (the comedy part), and fun.
The skills necessary to be successful at improvisation can translate very well to the communication and interactions between sales and customers and between inside and outside sales. Being open and supportive enhances the chance for more information to be forthcoming.
Improving our listening skills was key in taking advantage of the information produced with the new openness. Once we got everyone talking we needed to really hear what was being said so as to collaborate and come up with the best solution. “Yes and…” was the new catch phrase.
The session was spot on as support for the themes we had been highlighting in our sales process. Everyone had a great time contributing during this highly interactive experience. The transformation for most in the room, in three hours from beginning to end, was quite remarkable.
The weekend ended with approximately half the attendees participating in the second annual DieQua Golf Challenge. It’s not much of a challenge as most of us aren’t very good. None-the-less it was a fun way to finish this year’s meeting. DieQua co-owner Norm Quaas took top honors in the 9 hole contest with a 39 at the Island Course at the host resort.
We routinely get top marks from our sales partners on the effectiveness of our annual sales meetings. They represent other product lines and therefore attend other annual meetings. Providing valuable content that can be successfully assimilated in an informative and interactive environment is our number one goal. Getting feedback that we have gone a long way towards achieving that goal proves yet again we are different, providing tremendous satisfaction within the DieQua team.
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