Metal West Blog

Day and the Life of an Outside Sales Rep

At Metalwest our outside sales team is a huge part of our company. While our customers work closely with our inside sales representatives, the outside sales team is who they see on a monthly, weekly, or sometimes daily basis. They are essentially the face of Metalwest.

So, what does a typical day for an outside sales rep look like? Well, I went on a ride along with to find out.

My Ride Along with an Outside Sales Rep

I spent a day with John (JJ) Chojnowski, an outside sales rep for our Ogden, UT branch, to meet some customers and find out what exactly our outside sales reps do all day.

The day began with JJ reviewing our proposed schedule. The schedule included a good mix of key customers and potential accounts. He explained to me a little bit about what each company does and what our objective of visiting them was. Then we set off for our adventure… well, my adventure. It was just a typical day for JJ.

Customer Visits

Something I learned along the ride with JJ is that customers aren’t just customers. They are friends and family. At just about every stop we made he took the time to talk to the buyers about their families, projects they are working on outside of work, and their hobbies. He also made plans with several to get together outside of work.

He goes mountain biking with one customer on a regular basis; with another he takes boating trips.

I asked JJ if this was a common theme between outside sales reps and their customers. He said that many of our customers establish friendships with our outside and inside sales reps. It’s not just his selling technique, but an actual value that is shared throughout our company.

Customer Lunch

After a busy morning we met another customer for lunch. I half expected it to be another sales call just with food, but we hardly talked business. JJ had the customer tell me a little bit about what the company does and how business has been, but the remainder of lunch was spent growing the customer/sales rep relationship.

It was interesting to see how strong some of those relationships are.

Down Time

OK, so when I say “down time” I mean for me. We did spend a good portion of the day sitting in parking lots of random gas stations. After each stop JJ compiled his notes and would call the corresponding inside sales rep to discuss what happened at each customer visit. Because, while the outside sales representative is who the customer sees regularly, the relationship they have with the inside sales rep is just as important. I was impressed that he took the time to keep the inside sales rep in the loop almost in real time.

Coffee Breaks

I don’t personally drink coffee, but it provides fuel for an outside sales rep. And JJ in particular happens to be a huge coffee consumer. We had regular coffee stops to ensure he had the energy (although anyone who knows JJ knows he doesn’t necessarily need it) to make it through the day.

Ending the Day

The day ended with JJ reviewing all that took place during our “adventure.” He double, sometimes triple, checked he had all his notes submitted correctly, touched base with the inside sales team once more, and finished the last of his umpteenth cup of coffee.

Talking with Other Outside Sales Reps

Because I wanted to see how similar/different our outside sales reps are throughout the company, I talked to a few more reps to see what their favorite part of the job is and what the most challenging part of the job is.

Brooke Murray, outside sales rep for the Texas Region

“My favorite part of being in outside sales is meeting new people every day and learning and seeing how products are made using the material we sell. The most challenging part is trying to break into a new account when the buyer is even-keeled with their current supplier.”

Evan Skinner, outside sales rep for the Midwest Region

“The best part of the job is the relationships you make with customers. Many times you even become friends. The most challenging part is getting a foot in the door at an account that is happy with their current supplier. It takes patience as well as the ability to take rejection. Many people are not able to handle rejection.”

John Ripp, outside sales rep for the Northeast Region

“My favorite part of being in outside sales is the interaction I have with different customers and different types of people every day. No day is the same as the last, which I really enjoy. I enjoy every surprise and experience this job presents to me. The most challenging part of this job is to not get down on yourself or be too disappointed. When you’re in a position like I am in and have to build a territory, you will have a lot of doors shut in your face and a lot of rejections. This was tough in the beginning, but as I grew in my position I learned that I just had to treat each day like it’s a brand new opportunity.”

What I learned

After a full day of meeting customers and observing the transactions, I learned that customer/sales rep relationships are extremely important. This makes total sense seeing as how Metalwest was built on the principle that we are not just about steel.

I also learned that it is a team effort. The outside sales team couldn’t do it without the help of the inside sales team, the warehouse employees, truck drivers, and the rest of the support staff… even if they sometimes think they can.

Another thing I learned was that outside sales reps don’t get near as many steps in a day as I assumed. I wore my step tracker and ended up with only a few hundred more steps than I normally do while working a regular day in my office.

But in all seriousness, it was a great adventure. We have some great customers and our sales reps work hard every day to ensure our customers are happy.

Learn more about Metalwest here.

Q&A with Jeff Simons, President and CEO, Metalwest

Jeff Simons, Presiden & CEO OFR MetalsWe have spent a lot of time introducing you to our general managers, but what about our head honcho? Introducing Jeff Simons, Metalwest’s President and CEO. Jeff began his role with us in February 2014, previously working for O’Neal Industries, previous parent company to Metalwest.

Being CEO of a company is a large job. So, what is it like being in that position? Well, we decided to find out through a Q&A session.

You have been working in various positions for the O’Neal family of companies for a while now. What is your favorite part about working with the organization?

Jeff Simons (JS): Our companies are family-oriented, which creates a level of loyalty and commitment to the organization that is rare in today’s business world. That dedication from our employees has been and will continue to be a critical key to our success.

What is the greatest lesson you have learned from working in the steel industry?

JS: There are thousands of companies in our industry, and I’ve always been amazed how small it seems in terms of the people in our business. Although people change companies from time to time, they tend to stay in the business. To have a successful career, you must have a foundation of honesty and integrity and never compromise ethical behavior. This is a lot simpler at the O’Neal Industries family of companies since those are our core values.

How would you describe your leadership style?

JS: My leadership style is best characterized as transformational. Our industry seems to be in a constant state of change and, to succeed, I believe that it’s important that leadership commitment is felt throughout the organization. I strive for our team to be excited and motivated to achieve success that they didn’t think was possible. In simple terms, it’s all about commitment, not compliance.

We aren’t under the impression that being CEO is all sunshine and roses. So, what has been your biggest obstacle during your role as CEO at Metalwest?

JS: As I mentioned before, we seem to be in a constant state of change. The biggest challenge has been leading our company through change while navigating the headwinds of the current market.

At Metalwest we believe in being a company that employees will want to work for. So, what is your favorite part of working for Metalwest?

JS: Our employees have an unbelievable team spirit. I’ve seen acts of kindness and support across the entire Metalwest team that are truly inspirational. A company is defined by the people. It’s our team members who make our company a special place to work.

Did you have any role models (famous or not) that had an influence on where you are today? Who are they and how did they help you get here?

JS: My dad is my biggest role model. He worked in sales for one of the largest pharmaceutical corporations in the world and I saw him build relationships that supported him in consistently winning national sales achievement awards over a 40 year career that separated him from others.

In the workplace, Dave Simpson, a retired Regional VP for O’Neal Steel was a key role model as my career developed from sales into management and further into leadership roles. I worked for him directly for 18 of the 28 years that I’ve been with our company and his influence was a huge part in my career development. He mentored my career as I became an effective manager and leader.

The bottom line to what Metalwest values and believes is our customers and their success. In your opinion how does doing business with Metalwest help our customers succeed?

JS: The bottom line is that our customer’s success is our success. A key differentiator for Metalwest in our industry is our customer-focused orientation. We take a long term view and we’re committed to developing partnerships that are built on trust and lasting over time. Our focus on and commitment to providing our customers the highest quality products at competitive prices, in addition to the capability of developing complex supply solutions where appropriate, are all keys to helping our customers succeed.

Beyond Metal: What it Means to Our Customers

Beyond Metal Part 2

Our customers are the focus of our business. Without you we would mindlessly process sheet metal to let it sit on the floor. It’s true, without you we simply wouldn’t exist.

It is because of you that we believe in going Beyond Metal in everything we do. By providing you with value-added services and customized solutions, we want to ensure you succeed.

In this conclusion to the two-part Beyond Metal series we will hear from you, our customers, on the meaning behind the tagline. So, we took to social media as well as had some of our sales reps find out just what our customers think Beyond Metal means.

In part one we posed the question to our employees and received some fantastic responses to what Beyond Metal means internally. But that doesn’t mean anything if we don’t include our customers.

So, again I posed the question, “What does Beyond Metal mean to you?”

The responses:

“It’s a deep-seated relationship with Metalwest,” the purchasing manager for a horse trailer manufacturer said. “In other words, it’s personal.”

“[Metalwest] always makes sure that we get our material when we need it,” a company in sheet metal fabrication shared. “We know we can always count on [them] to deliver.”

“Beyond Metal means exceptional service,” a branch manager for a residential HVAC distributor stated. “[Metalwest] provides us with great service and material.”

Each of these statements reflects what Metalwest stands for and it’s humbling to see  that these statements came from our customers and are personal to them.

We also had some of our customers describe Beyond Metal in one word. To accurately sum up what was said we have created a word cloud. The larger the word, the more it came up. As you can see “service” is the number one word that comes to mind when our customers think Beyond Metal.

Beyond Metal wordcloud

Do you agree with the results of our word cloud? Are there words you feel are missing? Let us know. After all, it’s not about steel.