The 22nd Annual IPRO Conference: "Motivation, Collaboration and Communication"October 8, 2012 By Maureen Jenson
Seventy manufacturers and representatives gathered for three days in Austin, , Oct. 3-5, to participate in this year’s IPRO Conference. The event was accurately themed: “Motivation, Collaboration and Communication."
IPRO (Independent Professional Representatives Organization) is sporting more than a modernized logo: this year’s conference seemed to have even more free-flowing interaction and debate than previous conferences. The proceedings were kicked off by keynote speaker CEA’s chief economist Shawn DuBravac. DuBravac.pointed out that "spending in our industry is driven by smartphones and tablets, [but] there is also uncertainty due to the upcoming presidential election and so many other factors including the drought that has plagued America and other parts of the world.
"Once that is behind us, consumer spending should increase due to pent up demand. When that happens subsequently retailers and OEMs will do well and these are all positive signals for the IPRO member," DuBravac continued. “A positive sign is that we are starting to see consumer credit growth again. There will be new technologies, services and products that consumers will want. It is important to remember that adoption curves are always S shaped: They start off slowly and take off from there.”
Several panels this year had audience participation from start to finish, and no one held back. The Manufacturers Group panel that Eric Bodley of Perfect Path was on used the analogy that, “a three-legged stool won’t stand if all three legs aren’t working equally as hard: the manufacturers, reps and retailers. Everything has to relate back to serving our customer.”
This year heralded the first time that the CEO of a buying group attended. “ There are so many smart people in this room we have to pool the resources and share the knowledge and best practices so we can all make money going forward," Richard Glikes of Azione said. Of the New Leaders Group, Glike said that “they think in a way that we all need to listen to because they are the future of our industry.”
Discussing account penetration that goes both ways to customers and manufacturers was Karen Jefferson of the Manufacturers’ Representatives Educational Research Foundation. She explained how to become a Certified Sales Professional. Relationship management in sales was explored with Bryan Shirley of OneAccord. Today’s realities and the world of streaming was covered by CEDIA’s Dave Pedigo and the impact of the IT business on integrated product sales was discussed by Todd Thibedeux of CompTia.