35 (34 at time of nomination)
Sales manager; Gordon Electric Supply
By Joe Nowlan
Josh Corson was working as a mortgage broker in Los Angeles before he entered the electrical industry.
“At the end of 2007 I could tell that the real estate market was heading in the wrong direction and that I would need to find a new job,” Corson explained.
His in-laws owned Gordon Electric Supply and knew of their enthusiasm for their industry. But he interviewed with an electrical distributor in Los Angeles, Walters Wholesale and worked there for nearly three years, he explained.
Corson took to the industry and is now the sales manager of Gordon Electric’s Mokena, Illinois branch. He was able to expand his customer base by 30% over his first four years there. Corson attributes most of that to persistence.
“From my experience, I see many sales people turn away after one or two sales calls to a potential customer,” he explained. “They face rejection and after a couple of visits and a couple of ‘no’s’ they quickly move on to the next opportunity….”
Being persistent without going overboard is the key, Corson explained. And emphasizing to that potential customer the value a company can bring to them.
“It is very important, I believe, that you find [a way to] be valuable to a customer without even being in business with them,” he said. “If you can bring value to them and they see that you are bringing … value rather than just another distributor trying to just have the lowest price.”
It’s an approach that has paid off as some of his better customers today took the longest time to initially win over.
“Many of my customers now, who are very loyal customers, took six to eight months of calling on them without getting any business. So it is very important that you fight through the eight or 10 or even 12 sales calls where they are barely letting you in the door,” he explained.
One of Corson’s best sources for learning, he explained, is not necessarily from classroom or online courses.
“My learning preference is making a joint sales call with the vendor.…For the first five or six years in this industry I would make at least one or two joint sales calls a week,” Corson said. “Also, one of the things that has been very helpful to me is shadowing a more experienced salesperson in my own company.”
Not long ago Corson was the young trainee, the one being mentored. Now he is the one doing the training, the mentoring and hiring. He finds it a daunting challenge.
“Sales come much more naturally to me than managing and training sales people,” he said. “Developing salespeople is very challenging. It is challenging not only to find the right fit for outside sales positions in the electrical industry. But helping to groom and mentor people in this industry is very challenging as well.”
Corson was born and raised in Hingham, Massachusetts. He graduated from Ithaca College, in Ithaca, New York, where he also played football as well as met his future wife.
Today he and his wife Sabrina have a daughter Kendell who is 18 months old.
Q. What advice would you have for other young professionals in the industry?
A. The best advice that I could give would be to focus not only on your short-term goals but also on your midterm and long-term goals. It is not an industry that moves very fast. It takes some time to build a reputation, build an account base and build your own book of business. It is very important to focus on the midterm and long-term goals. Don’t just focus on the short-term goals.
Q. What do you think is the biggest opportunity within the industry?
A. I think the technology changes will provide the biggest opportunity, the advancement in LED which is obviously no secret at this point and increasing requirements for lighting controls provide a lot of opportunity. Energy savings is still a huge opportunity. Currently a lot of it is funded by rebate money but the products are going to continue to develop and become more affordable which will reduce the need for municipality rebates. Lighting controls are going to continue to grow and energy savings from controls and from better lighting technology is probably going to continue to be our biggest opportunity.
Joe Nowlan is a Boston-based freelance writer/editor and author. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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