The shareholder-only Forté summer meeting took place August 1-2, at the Fairmont Chicago Millennium Park hotel. Before members attended the day’s events a Board of Directors meeting was held where the decorative plumbing and hardware buying group officially hired its first CEO, Cindy Hall. Her first day in office was Aug. 21.

During the event, attendees discussed challenges their businesses were facing with their peers as well as with Fredric Lucas, CEO of Prima Ressource, during his presentation on closing a sale.

“Closing sales is not an event; it is an outcome that occurs when you have completed all the steps,” he said. “Sales statistics reveal your salespeople will close between 10% and 20% of sales opportunities despite their best efforts. Only an elite 7% of salespeople are successful despite the conditions around them. A problem may occur at closing, but it appeared during one of the steps. Connect what the customer is looking for to what you are offering. It is about mindset, not tactics. Transactional salespeople are obsolete. They need to evolve to consultative selling.”

He offered a sales team closing audit which included 15 questions every business owner should ask themselves about their team. He stated 74% of salespeople don’t develop a relationship fast enough and suggested a change in conversation, asking, “What brought you in to see us today?” rather than “How can I help you?”

Attendees also were able to discuss exit strategies and get guidance on how to effectively transfer ownership of their business. Presented by Lee and Terry Resnick, partners of Resnick Associates, the seminar focused on the areas of estate planning, business succession and liquidity issues, and offered options on how to pass a business to the next generation or other successors. Key topics covered were buy-sell agreements, valuation, trusts, due-diligence of life insurance and addressing family issues within a family business.

“Two out of three businesses will not survive sudden changes in ownership,” Lee Resnick noted. “Common mistakes include complacency and improperly arranged life insurance. All parties involved should know and understand what you have in place and that plan should always be kept up-to-date.”

The topic of proper showroom lighting also was discussed. Presented by Andrew Shebath of Victoria Supply, this breakout discussed how lighting can be used to enhance the beauty of showroom displays and vignettes, attract customer attention and put a brand in the best possible light, as well as how color temperature influences display effectiveness.

At the Cocktails with Crosswater hour, Crosswater staff networked with members asking for feedback on potential new products it is considering bringing to the Forté and Ammara offering.

The event wrapped the next day with a peer-to-peer network discussion and a preferred partner performance review.


This article was originally titled “Keeping your business successful” in the September 2017 print edition of Supply House Times.