Driven to Succeed
How distributors choose to navigate today’s complicated business landscape can put them either on the road to success or the highway to hell. American Solutions for Business (ASB), Glenwood, Minn., appears to be mapping out profitable routes through vertical market sales.
Currently celebrating the company’s 25th anniversary, President Larry Zavadil recalled ASB’s first few years in business when some in his small group of sales associates were focused on particular industries, including government, health-care and banking. “Everyone quickly learned to call upon their peer specialist to secure a new client, and sharing became part of ASB’s unique culture,” he said. “We learned that we could draw upon our successes with one client to benefit others, and reproduce effective solutions and apply them to other situations.”
As the sales force grew and continued using the strategy, sales increased. Seemingly, ASB’s roots are wrapped around the concept of vertical selling. Now, with more than 520 sales associates across the nation, and nearly $240 million in booked sales in 2005, much of the company’s success is from strategies in vertical market sales.
A little over a year ago, ASB began its contract period with the health-care GPO Novation. “I’ve had 25 years of experience in selling to the health-care market, and working outside of the world of a GPO is frustrating,” said Dallas-based ASB representative Herb Newton. “With our recognition and awarded supplier status, I’ve been able to win business I couldn’t get before and that’s exciting for me and for the company.”
ASB is pleased about the company’s future in health-care, and growth opportunities are emerging at several different levels, including vendors with cutting-edge health-care solutions and distributors looking for national account opportunities. The Novation agreement has also put ASB on the radar of other GPOs.
The strategies of vertical selling work for the financial industry, as well. All financial institutions need a wide range of products and services, everything from traditional forms and commercial printing to promotional products and office supplies. The key is to form relationships not only with purchasing agents, but also with marketing, operations and accounting departments. ASB Marketing Specialist Faith Anderson noted that people within the financial industry strive for strong relationships with their own customers, and therefore, understand the importance of strong associations.