people going over blueprint in office
24/07/2012

Women in the Fastener Industry

I am the newest addition to the All Points Fasteners Inc. sales team.

In a field dominated by men, there are quite a few obstacles I have had to overcome. For example, I sell zip screws and tek screws to people in the Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning industry. Prior to my training, I had never heard of a zip or tek screw. I had no idea that there were different size shanks, chucks, and threads. After working at a cell phone company for 4 ½ years—I was in for a shock!

The first time a customer started rattling off the different screws that they used (and parts I had never even heard of), I panicked. I was sure that I wasn’t ready to do this and that this career change was a mistake. I could never be good enough because I didn’t have any knowledge about anything mechanical. Heck, I barely knew how to change my tire! (At least I knew that much, it has been useful on more than one occasion.)

Now that I have a few more weeks of experience under my belt, I am much more confident. I understand now that I can’t know everything. It reminded me that I never knew everything while working in my last just. I had to use my resources to find the answers. Knowing this has helped me become much more confident. I cannot know everything but I do know the questions I need to ask, and I’ll be alright. I also know now that my customers will be patient with me if I am honest. All I need to tell them is that I’m new and I need them to slow down a little bit.

I will be forever grateful to the first customer I ever spoke with. He was kind, patient, and he didn’t hang up on me. It was a great experience and it calmed my nerves. It helped me prepare for the times that I would be hung up on. Thankfully, I haven’t been hung up on very often.

Moving from Customer Service to Sales has been quite an experience. I have found that my Customer Service background has made it easy to speak with people over the phone. During all those years of being a Customer Service Representative, however, taught me how to keep professional even in the most difficult times. This has made sales over the phone a little difficult. While it is important to remain professional, it is also important to relate to your customers. To do this, I must learn to loosen up and have a good time with them! Although my customers were always pleased with the service they received from me at the cell phone company, these customers are not calling me with a problem. I am calling them with a solution to a problem they didn’t even know they had—paying way too much money for their materials!

My new knowledge of screws has helped me out in arguments with my husband. It was nice to be the expert in a field I never had any experience with! We were hanging out one day, discussing the type of screws that I sell. He insisted that tek screws were the only self-tapping screws. I calmly corrected him and advised him that the self-piercing screws also self-tap. He is a very stubborn man and insisted he was correct. At this point, I pulled up an article All Points Fasteners that discussed this very topic. He is still annoyed that I proved him wrong, but he is impressed with my new skills.

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank my mentor, MaryLouise. She has been in business for over 20 years now, and she helped pave the way for us women to jump on board. She proved that you don’t have to be a man to be successful in this industry. All you have to do is get to know your product, your consumer, and learn how to talk on the phone and you can sell anything! She has been by guide through this wild journey and I am so grateful for the opportunities she has provided. She has taught me a new way to provide for my family.

To other woman considering a career in the fastener industry, you can do it. There is a network called WIFI, Women in the Fastener Industry. They offer mentor-ship and guidance. Check out their website!