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Like many organizations, the Association of Independent Manufacturers Representatives knew this past spring that a face-to-face event would not cut it this year. The leadership quickly assessed options and committed to a virtual event in the fall. Thanks to Michelle Lewnes-Dadas, CPMR, vice president of Preferred Sales and AIM/R Executive Committee member, the association carved out the crucial elements of the onsite annual conference and scaled them for an online experience.
The association delivered education for leaders who rethink, reimagine and reinvent. The lineup for the AIM/R Virtual Meeting 2020, Oct. 22–23 (our first!), did not disappoint. More than 300 participants heard updates from three major wholesalers and learned from three rep-specific best-practices sessions.
Wholesaler presentations took place Oct. 23 and addressed several topics from the perspective of Ferguson, Hajoca Corp. and Winsupply. Some of the issues included:
COVID-19: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
What has happened since March 2020?
What are the next steps for the foreseeable future?
What are some recommended best practices for working with sales reps — rep agency level and the manufacturer level?
Three vice presidents from Ferguson updated attendees on various business sectors: Kristen Elder, showroom and builder vice president; Todd Young, vice president of the commercial business group; and Garland Williams, vice president of residential trade and counter. Hajoca President and Chief Executive Officer Rick Fantham offered a tailored update on his company. The segment was rounded-out by Robert Ferguson, resident of the Winsupply Local Company Group for Winsupply Inc. Each wholesaler sponsored their respective presentations.
Three concurrent educational sessions for rep agencies were offered in 2020, each lead by reps sharing best practices. While rep agents chose one to attend virtually, all sessions were recorded so members can watch them at a later date. The three sessions were sponsored by Keyline Sales Inc. and Davenport & Associates:
• “Technology to Run a Rep Firm” was presented by AIM/R board of director members Jeff Blair, president of Barclay Sales, and Jon Wiggs, CPMR, CSP, president of Wiggs-Haun & Bohan. This session addressed several tech platforms and programs used by reps today, including costs, the pros and cons, the day-to-day operation and long-term maintenance. Participants learned about technology for all aspects of their businesses — HR, marketing, email, cloud services, mobile, CRM, presentations and more.
• Matt Guidish, director of marketing at Preferred Sales Inc., and Jennifer Rodriguez, CPMR, executive vice president of Marsh & Moore, offered their thoughts on “Reporting & Big Data” for rep agencies. The era of big data, inbound marketing and active 360-degree management regarding measurement were discussed, as well as the practices used by rep firms to create and maintain reports efficiently for manufacturers.
• Eric Garrington, CPMR, CSP, territory sales manager at CWR Inc., along with Whitney Morgan, CPMR, showroom director at Harry Warren Inc., and Tobi Gibson, CPMR, sales manager at TM Sales Inc., discussed “Best Practices for Sales Calls in a COVID-19 Environment.” This session provided a deep-dive exploration of rep agencies that have taken creative steps during the pandemic to impact their territories. How agencies have managed virtual vs. in-person sales calls and how they have scheduled for success also was addressed.
Even though there is a “table” in roundtable, there were no physical tables in 2020. Back by popular demand, AIM/R offered its ever-popular roundtables but through virtual classrooms: R.I.S.E Rep Information/Solution Exchange took place Oct. 22 and R.A.M. Rep and Manufacturer Roundtable took place Oct. 23.
Next year, we hope to see you in person! Mark your calendars for the AIM/R 49th Annual Conference, Sept. 29–Oct. 2, 2021, in San Diego. If you have questions regarding the AIM/R events, please contact AIM/R at firstname.lastname@example.org or 630-942-6581.