This is the story of a successful 75-year-old Canadian company—but more importantly, it is the story of an agency that is already strongly and purposely striding forward into new ventures and territories.
CCB visited with Grant Brothers Sales to hear about the new direction they are taking under the direction of CEO Charlie Grant, grandson of one of the originators of Grant Brothers Sales. We sat down with Adam Crisp, Division President, Scott Mackay, Senior Vice President and Lauren O’Brien, Marketing Manager.
CCB started the interview asking, “What are you doing to stay on trend, and evolve with industry changes, how have you changed your processes?
Scott Mackay answered, “Technology is a major focus of ours. With the demanding industry changes, the technology that Charlie and Adam have invested in has allowed our team to essentially become experts with all our product lines. In the past, it was difficult to access information but now everything from presentations and marketing resources to our training portals, are easily accessible to the team, even when they are on the road. Our latest investment in Salesforce, has also allowed us to accurately capture our activity in the field, analyze data, and identify opportunities. Speeding up the process to close more business.”
Lauren agreed with this statement, “In additional to our technology upgrades, we’ve added a lot of processes to meet the needs of our customers, including the capabilities of our Inside Sales Management Team and starting a Marketing Division. Over the last two years, we have become more sophisticated and are able to offer more support to our manufacturers. We have already expanded the Marketing Team, with the hire of Tiffany McCarthy.
“We’re able to help our manufacturers from top to bottom in terms of what we see out in the field, making recommendations on marketing materials they need and then helping them to create it. Getting the right collateral from the manufacturer used to be a challenge. Now we have the capabilities to do that in-house—no more wait time. We work directly with our manufacturer and distributors—we can do it faster and therefore we’re able to do more.”
Following that trend, CCB wanted to know what GBS was doing to strengthen their representatives’ skills, resources, and ability. One aspect was a major investment on the technology side for every single GBS sales representative. “They are equipped with a tablet, and top-of-the-line mobile device. Within those devices they have full access to our cloud-based platform and CRM, Salesforce tool where they can access live data and documents on specific manufacturers right in front of the customer.” Scott tells us.
“In addition,” Scott goes on, “we have mandatory sales meetings every two weeks with our Eastern Canadian team and our Western Canadian team. We use this time to identify successes, opportunities, and roadblocks. We’re sharing each other’s successes across Canada not just working within our provincial divisions, but working as a national agency, a national team. This allows our whole team to work together and learn from each other.”
CCB was curious and asked about the investment in Salesforces and why it’s important to have a good CRM—Customer Relationship Management.
Scott elaborated, “Salesforce allows us to analyze our data and make decisions based on the information we capture, with the ability to chop down data and view performance by territory. We can see the activity and the opportunities in the Pipeline. Customer notes are easily accessible improving our customer service. Every one of our customers on the automotive, heavy duty and retail side has an account within Salesforce.”
Lauren says, “Salesforce is also accessible through the mobile app, giving our reps the opportunity to enter meeting and customer call notes immediately, while they are top of mind.”
Scott adds, “Promotions, marketing projects, physical sales calls, presentations, training sessions all get documented—all our activity within the field from warehouse distributor to jobber level, right down to the installer level. The manufacturers really like that… our investment in this, the effort and how we go about it.”
CCB enquired about the investment in expanding the Insides Sales Management Team and the Marketing Team, and how that improved business?
“We decided we needed another layer to give the salespeople more time to focus in the field. To support this, we started building an Inside Sales Management Team, acting as one point of contact for the manufacturer and the distributor, streamlining communication and administrative processes.”
“The in-house marketing team has been a crucial part to our growth, aside from managing our own Grant Brother Sales marketing initiatives, they support the manufacturers, distributors and our sales team,” Scott remarked. “It is a huge service we can offer our customers because everyone is downsizing… many companies had to eliminate staff, in many cases starting with Marketing Teams but still expecting their Canadian sales to hit targets.”
CCB questioned what GBS’ ability was to represent products in various markets.
Adam stated, “Since we purchased TransCanada Sales, a heavy-duty agency, we’ve incorporated it into our marketplaces. It’s a different channel—you need salespeople that know that market. When you see trucks going everywhere now, online buying, we thought the timing was right to get into this market. As well, there’s the offroad market… mining, forestry, all big in Canada and there’s a lot of crossovers there with the heavy-duty division.
“We have coast-to-coast coverage now in all divisions plus dedicated team members,” Adam continues. “As our revenue grows, we want to add more people, have less travel time in certain parts of the country, so we’re going to invest in the big markets. We’re strategically following the flow of customers and with the data we have, we know where we need to pitch in and help.”
Clearly the GBS mission is to create partnerships that feel more like an extension of the manufacturer’s team. So, we asked if Adam would care to elaborate on that?
“Absolutely,” he said. “And when you look at the clients we represent, they’re part of our family. We know them on a personal level, on a professional level, we are treated as if we are part of their family. They respect our business, and we respect theirs. As an agency, our first goal is to help manufacturers understand the value that we can bring. Trusting us to be an extension of their sales force is the first step, this creates a true partnership and one that can last for years. Together, as a team, we set goals with our manufacturers—where we want to go, how we are going to get there, and what we need to be successful. We are all accountable to achieving these goals together.”
CCB wondered whether it was hard getting the GBS people to change their way of thinking and doing?
Replying to this, Scott said, “They understand the vision—we put it out there—we’re very transparent about our goals and what we need to do to service our manufacturers, our WDs and our jobbers. They know what we need to do to get to the next level. We’re a communication company—we must communicate with our clients, our customers, and each other.”
Adam states, “One team, one goal! We’re team players… we want to win! Our biggest asset is our people.”