When Andy Brahms launched Armchem in 1982, it took him nine years to hire his first employee. Now the company is always recruiting. Part of expanding is bringing in new talent, he says.

Just as the outside sales reps needed to open new accounts, Armchem needed to bolster its inside sales. During the recession inside sales accounted for only 12 percent of the business. But inside sales is where the revenue can truly be created. An inside rep can generate more business because managers can control the schedule and help keep reps focused.

In 2011, Armchem opened its Sales Center, a 5,000-square-foot facility designed for a growing inside sales department. When it opened Armchem hired 10 reps immediately. Thanks to the expansion, inside sales now creates 30 percent of overall revenue. Within two years the company plans to add another 10 reps with a goal of accounting for 50 percent total revenue.

The outside sales staff calls on customers in a dozen states; the inside sales team, however, sells to an overseas market of 35 islands in the Caribbean and North and South Pacific.

“You can’t be afraid to interact with the overseas market because they have the same needs as the domestic market,” says Brahms.

The inside sales team has another important job — following up with domestic customers using Armchem paper dispensers. Clients that purchase towels and tissue from Armchem get to lease the dispensers for free — as long as they continue to buy the paper.

Inside reps act as a watchdog ensuring that paper purchases remain steady. If there is a dip in re-orders, chances are, customers have broken the lease agreement and bought paper elsewhere. Clients can either return the dispenser or continue to buy paper from Armchem.

This incessant monitoring has helped stabilize an ongoing and lucrative revenue stream.

The combination of the lead generation program and additional inside reps have attributed to the opening of an average of 80 accounts a week. In 2013, Armchem reps are on pace to welcome more than 4,000 new customers.

Brahms is not afraid to sell to anyone. Industrial facilities, city and state government, hotel/motel, new construction, car washes, condominiums, office facilities — all are potential customers.

“That’s why I love this business; you can call on everyone,” says Brahms. “We sell to everyone from A to Z, including the zoo.”

It’s not just new business that has led to Armchem’s success. Account retention is better than it was before the recession. Reps are more attentive to their customers and focused on their needs. Regardless of the economy, end users want to save money; reps help steer them toward products and procedures that will lead to cost savings.  

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