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"What have you done for me lately?"

"What have you done for me lately?" Sound familiar? As a manufacturer's representative you are repeatedly tasked by your manufacturers to relay information in your market. Your mfg may want to know what projects you are focusing on, what products you are targeting and obstacles you may be facing to name a few.

It is not uncommon for a rep's sales team to keep notes, documents and activity updates in some sort of personal or shared file, maybe even tracking job information in an Excel file that they trade on and off with each other. Unfortunately, when you get the call: "What have you done for me lately?" many reps struggle to gather the information and spend countless hours putting together reports. Some of the challenges I hear from many reps is how difficult it is to follow up on quotes, jobs and organizing the data.

Keep in Simple

Look at the big picture and try to keep it simple and ask "What is my end goal when it comes to job quoting and follow up?"

Let's break this down into a few small segments.

Jobs/Projects - You understand this is a money maker and recording basic job information is usually good enough to get started quoting. The information is jotted down (somewhere), a quote is generated and sent (to someone) and in the end, for some reason it finds it's way to a dark corner. "What have you done for me lately?" Panic sets in and off to the races and dark corners to find the answers you need.

Keep it Simple - Start by identifying parameters of which projects meet your "What have you done for me lately?" criteria. Since not all quoted jobs hold the same importance to you or your manufacturer, you will want to define some basic criteria to identify the noteworthy ones. This criteria can be based on project value, specific targeted mfgs and products, industry or simply a particular territory. Nonetheless - identify your criteria!

Record - For each of these priority projects you should record the basic job information:

Job Name

Bid Due Date

Job Category (Commercial, Residential or A, B, C priority)

Estimated Job Value

Responsible Salesperson

What information is important to you?

Now think of the top 2-4 pieces of information you want to know about your priority projects that would be beneficial to address "What have you done for me lately?" Be careful here as there can be lots of data that you could record. I find when you ask for too much on the onset you may end up getting nothing, so keep it simple and identify your top pieces of information you want. Here are my top 4.

#1 Win or lose? This would be a good starter right? When everything is said and done this could be the most important piece of information you save.

Did you win? Great! Now record the value of the manufacturer you won! Was there are reason you got the job instead of your competitor, if so jot that down!

Did you lose? What was the value of the lost mfg? Why did you lose the project? There could be many reasons why you would lose a project and can be very important to note it the long run. Was it because you were not specified or did not have a comparable product? Was your pricing out of line, did your competition succeed in changing the specs? If you record this type of information you will be able to identify trends of wins and losses and address them accordingly.

#2 Who was the project awarded to? We all know how important relationships are when it comes to product choices. You may even be aware that a certain contractor or mechanical who prefers the competition over you. This is especially important if both you and the competition are listed in the specs. Even still, when you are the only one being specified, you know changes can be made very late in the game. I call this keeping your fingers in the pot; learn what to expect when a project becomes awarded to head off chances of losing the job.

#3 Spec Status. Is the engineering firm important to you? It may be especially if you find your products are not being specified or mentioned! If you are not being specified or mentioned in the spec this is your "Call to Action!" Time to make a visit to the engineering firm for a lunch & learn perhaps.

#4 Job Documents - plans, quotes etc. - Typically we see these documents, quotes, plans etc. stored in various locations which make finding job information can become a job in itself! Store documents in 1 location as this will save you considerable time in the long run.

You will be greatly rewarded when you prioritize projects, consistently identify important information and organize documents and files. When the phone rings "What have you done for me lately?" I believe you will find the answers to the question far easier than ever!

Interep Systems ISQuote Job Quoting & Tracking software has been developed specifically for the manufacturer's representative who needs to accurately quote and track projects and organize data.


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