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On Distribution Talk, we dive into the stories, struggles and solutions from interesting characters who have chosen to make a career in the distribution industry. My goal is to entertain, educate and inspire you through these brief conversations.  Thank you for visiting.  If you like what you hear, come visit us often. -Jason

Jul 24, 2019

What are you selling? Beyond the parts and pieces, what differentiates you from your competitors?

Don’t answer, at least not until you’ve listened to my conversation with Paul Reilly, president of Tom Reilly Training.

His company has been on a 40 year mission to show sales teams that value-driven conversations can help them sell more profitably. The message has never been more relevant than in today’s market.

“My father Tom started the company back in the early 80s. What really got us started was that value-added selling message and, in distribution, it’s all about finding unique ways to add value, create value for your customers.”

Technology has changed many of the physical elements required to make a sale since Tom Reilly wrote the first edition of Value-Added Selling. But tech hasn’t gone so far as to disrupt the general principles outlined in the book and taught at Reilly Training seminars.

“People try to convince you that things have changed,” Paul says. “They’re stirring the pot a little, saying that everything’s changed in sales and you can’t go to market the same way.” He doesn’t buy it.

Distributorships have faced pricing pressures since the beginning and the companies that have survived make relationships their goal, not price. 

Paul put that value-driven principle into practice before joining the family business. He worked at Hilti for six years, selling products priced 20 to 30 percent higher than the competition’s. “You have to learn how to communicate that message of value and translate not only the product and services and what they do, but you have to translate that into meaningful impact to the customer.”

The fourth edition of Value-Added Selling blends Paul’s fresh experiences with new insights and ideas developed through Reilly training seminars.

As with previous editions, however, the company aims to move sales teams past price. How? “I would say the first tip is to just have better conversations with your customers.” he says. For instance, make a point of showing your clients how you can help them reduce their total costs, be they logistical, labor, time, etc. “Cost is a much better conversation to have than price.”

Paul shares a few more tips in the episode including strategies for shifting a customer’s short-term gain mentality to one where the long-term solution benefits both you and your client. “Asking these questions gets the customer thinking bigger, thinking long-term and all the while they’re taking the focus off price.” 

Ready to experience the bottom-line benefits of value-added sales for yourself?

Then you’ve got to listen in!

We talk about the number one attribute customers look for in their sales people as ranked by Reilly’s internal research, what Aristotle had to say about Millennials (yes, Aristotle), and add two authors to your summer reading list: Mike Weinberg and Daniel Pink

Thank you to our sponsor INxSQL, software built for distribution.


Distribution Talk is produced by The Distribution Team, a consulting services firm dedicated to helping wholesale distribution clients remove barriers to profitability, generate wealth and achieve personal goals.  

Edited & mixed by The Creative Impostor Studios.

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Connect with Paul on LinkedIn.