A Worthy Rant to Product Reps
Contributed by Cherise Lakeside
Be warned, this is going to be somewhat of a rant and likely not for those whose sensibilities are easily offended. I am a little disheartened that, in this day and age, I would even feel the need to write this. Honestly though, after 30 years, it feels good to unload some of these frustrations.
I need to preface this blog with the fact that I have come to know many amazing product reps since I joined CSI. For those amazing Reps, this blog is NOT for or about you.
This blog is about what I will call “The Others.” Some of this blog is about how “The Others” interact with women in the AEC industry.
While it is not particularly important for the purpose of this writing but, in the interest of full disclosure, I was the Standards Coordinator at a fairly large Engineering Firm that does work all over the world and am now a specifier at a multi-office architecture firm. I have been a the keeper and guardian of Master Specs, run a QA/QC program and performed various other duties associated with having quality documents and consistent standards. I have over 30 years of experience in AEC.
Because we had multiple disciplines and I am not an Engineer (most of my career was spent in architecture) I did not typically make final product decisions. That was left to the engineers. I am the central information point for feedback and information on our engineers experience with particular products.
One side piece to my former job was supervising two of our general office staff. It is the responsibility of our administrative assistant (newly hired to replace the last one who was promoted) to set up lunch and learns. I had not trained her to do this. I have performed this task since the promotion of our last administrative assistant because I find that having a direct line to our product reps helps me do my job better. We had far too many lunch & learns in our office for it to be feasible for me to attend every single one. Performing this task gives me an opportunity to speak with every product rep whether I can attend their event or not. It also helps me get specific information that I need and get to know them.
In addition to my work, I have become heavily involved in CSI and have attended the last five CONSTRUCT Shows as well as many of our Chapter’s Industry Forums which both have a product show component.
And that is where my rant begins. For “The Others” I have a few words of advice. I hope you will take this advice in the spirit in which it is given. Some of you are so insulting that your behavior is shared far beyond that initial phone call that you make. That behavior does not go over well with the folks you are trying to reach so please, take heed of some words to live by:
The bottom line here, you don’t really know who you are talking to, who they might know or where they may be going in their career. It is in your best interest to leave behind a favorable impression with EVERY SINGLE person you meet.
And, to those amazing product reps I do know, Thank You!
Thank you for:
– Knowing your stuff
– Trusting that I know mine
– Giving me the information I need in the format that I need it so I can run with it
– Not being condescending or disrespectful
– Not being dismissive because it does not appear that I can immediately help you
– Being that trusted advisor that I can always count on and respect.
You are the ones that set the standard for all of the rest of them!
3/22/2017 07:51:14 am
LOVE this! Even in this day and age many reps assume women are not knowledgeable. I understood it 26 years ago when I started in this industry, but it really should be much better than it is by now!
3/22/2017 08:28:54 am
Love it Cherise!
3/22/2017 10:25:59 am
Item #5 really strikes a chord. Product reps preach about specifications daily yet rarely take the time to really learn about the very topic of their sermons.
Heather M Marquard
3/22/2017 03:15:56 pm
3/23/2017 12:10:27 pm
We have had a few manufacturers reps that exhibited this sort of behavior... and where there was little interest in actually supporting our specifications they were simply shown the door.
3/23/2017 12:30:16 pm
Great post Cherise! I have seen these behaviors come up far too many times when I was working in the Engineering and Architecture firms.
3/29/2017 02:55:21 pm
Very well written Cherise. As someone that tries not to be one of "The Others", you have described everything I try (and try not :)) to be. It is a shame that individuals and companies still act that way.
4/13/2017 10:53:45 am
What irks me the most is when a rep insists on seeing me without knowing anything about our firm or what we do. When someone wants to see me regarding hospital equipment and we haven't done healthcare in 20 years, it's a waste of his time and mine to meet. They seem offended when I explain that to them.
2/27/2018 06:17:45 am
Another good post, perhaps an even better reason to resurrect, reinforce, and support the CSI CCPR program
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