B-to-B Goes 'Plug and Play'
In all, United mailed more than 50,000 copies of its catalog in 2005 to customers and prospects, says Lesh, who also notes that some national accounts may have more than one sales office.
Of United's customers, only about 100 rely on mail-order sales as their primary business, but many others use catalogs as selling tools for their b-to-b sales forces.
Lesh says, "We do some active merchandising support and marketing to the mail-order and catalog industry. For example, we'll target a mail-order company and create a sample page for their catalog, showing them how our products could look in their catalogs if they were to include 10 to 15 SKUs appropriate to their marketplace."
If the cataloger seems interested in the idea, a United sales or marketing rep conducts a full line review of what the cataloger might want to add and where it could maximize revenue.
Distributors: Armed and Ready to Sell
Selling waste receptacles is big business, requiring the help of wholesalers, distributors and sales agents. "[Selling trash cans] may sound mundane and unimportant," admits Dick Friedman, president of RTF Group, a contracted sales agent for United. "But say you're in charge of choosing new receptacles for a major operation — a university, a hospital, a huge facility like a major amusement park or a corporation like United Airlines. You don't want to choose the wrong type of receptacles and make a half-million-dollar mistake for your company."
That's why it's so important to United to get its products represented correctly to potential buyers — both by an educated outside sales force and on the pages of any catalogs that prospects see.
Friedman lauds United for its deep understanding of powder coating, liner types, bags — all the options in waste receptacles. Lake Bluff, Ill.-based RTF Group sells United products in the three-state market of Illinois, Wisconsin and Indiana. "We focus on the facilities maintenance market, which is vast and far-reaching," says Friedman.