Top Distributors 2017 Q&As: No. 7 - AIA Corporation
Every year, Promo Marketing releases its Top 50 Distributors list. To give you some insight into what it takes to make it to the top, we spoke to Matthew T. Gresge, president and CEO of AIA Corporation, No. 7 on the list.
Promo Marketing: What led to your company’s success in 2016?
Matthew T. Gresge: AIA is home to some of the most productive and successful distributors in the industry. We’re very proud to have close to 300 independent distributors in the AIA network who each average $700,000 per year in annual billing. Not only are the AIA distributors outstanding salespeople, they are also great contributors to the AIA community. Whether it be sourcing options, sales strategies or technical “how-to’s,” the AIA community is ultra-responsive to their fellow members and truly committed to the success of their fellow distributors.
PM: What goals do you have for AIA Corporation for 2017 and beyond?
MG: 2016 was a successful year for the AIA distributors, however we’re looking to up our game in 2017. Over the course of the year you’ll see AIA roll out new marketing strategies, upgrade our technical platforms, deliver new sales and service models, and form an even deeper relationship with key suppliers. Each of these initiatives is specifically designed to bolster the AIA distributors’ ability to compete and win in a changing market.
PM: What challenges do distributors face in the promotional products industry, especially in the next four years? How can they solve them?
MG: Historically, a distributor’s success has been a function of the personal selling skills of that distributor’s sales team. A skilled sales team could open doors, get appointments, guide the buyer through a complex decision-making process and close the deal. Fortunately, AIA and the promotional products industry are populated by some of the most successful sales talent there is, whether it be in the promotional products industry or any other.
However, the world has changed. Where, historically, buyers would rely on salespeople to guide them through the decision-making process, most buyers today are looking to guide themselves through the purchasing process to the greatest extent possible via the internet. The buyer only wants to see the salesperson when they’ve completed their online research and are fairly certain about their choices and needs.