Dustin Levy on Technical Salespeople and Industrial Buying Habits

Ed Marsh | Jul 2, 2024

Risk Aversion is an Enemy of Industrial Sales - Inside & Out


Have you heard the one about the Ph.D. scientist, a product marketer, and industrial sales manager who walk into a bar together?

The jokes write themselves. These perspectives are almost fundamentally incompatible. If you were a Ph.D chemist, maybe you'd call them immiscible.

Dustin Levy would be the exception that would prove you wrong. The solvent that dissolves all these perspectives into a potent business development brew may just be his blue-collar upbringing.

In this episode, Dustin brings his academic and practical experience to a wide-ranging conversation on leadership, marketing, sales, and the role of technical salespeople. We touch on marketing and sales alignment, channel sales, buyer risk aversion and more.

And as a college baseball player, Dustin provides another data point in my anecdotal exploration of the value that military veterans and NCAA athletes bring to industrial sales organizations.

Connect with Dustin for more insights into technical sales and marketing.

Watch Dustin's TEDx Talk

Website |    |

Technical Salespeople, Channel Sales, and Buyer Risk Aversion - Dustin on Industrial Growth Insitute Episode 16


Show Transcript

Episode Recap


technical-salespeople-have-to-help-industrial-buyers-reduce-perceived-riskDustin Levy, Vice President of the Industrial Safety Business Group at Gentex Corporation, chats with host Ed Marsh about a wide range of industrial marketing and sales topics including:

  • comfort, learning, and panic zones
  • the importance of leaders and mentors in helping individuals navigate the learning zone without entering the panic zone and the significance of having a growth mindset
  • importance of self-awareness and self-correction in one's career
  • transition from product management to sales management
  • the value of understanding channel partners' businesses

They discuss three types of salespeople: technical, account managers, and sales managers and explore the channel sales question of exclusive or non-exclusive representation agreements and the imperative of sales and marketing alignment.

Other topics include:

  • the Jolt Effect, buyer risk aversion
  • use of AI in sales
  • challenges and opportunities facing businesses in the industry
  • Dustin's implementation of a new program based on the Jolt Effect
  • the importance of effective sales and marketing strategies for industrial manufacturers.


  • The comfort zone is where we feel safe and familiar, while the learning zone is just outside of it, where we stretch and grow. The panic zone is beyond the learning zone, where we feel overwhelmed and retreat back to our comfort zone.
  • Having a growth mindset and continuously expanding our comfort zones is essential to adapt to the accelerating rate of change.
  • Dustin's career trajectory, combining science, marketing, and sales, is a result of his natural curiosity and empathy for blue-collar workers.
  • The transition from product management to sales management requires understanding the end user and channel partners' businesses.
  • Successful channel sales require finding the right partners who bring unique value to end users and managing a limited distribution model.
  • There are three types of salespeople: technical salespeople, account managers, and sales managers, each with their own strengths and challenges.
  • Balancing marketing and sales is essential in today's complex buying journey, where customers expect seamless interactions and expertise.
  • Understanding and addressing buyer risk aversion is crucial in the industrial manufacturing industry.
  • AI can be used to support sales channels, but face-to-face interactions and understanding the customer's work environment remain important.

Takeaway Quotes from Dustin Levy

  • "A fixed mindset is not a safe place. A growth mindset is where you're proactively controlling your own outcomes and future."
  • "I think it probably is something that if you haven't figured it out and learned that lesson on the first half of your career, highly unlikely that your second half is gonna show major behavioral differences."
  • "We really feel the pain of a loss substantially more than the boost from a win."


00:00 Introduction to Dustin Levy and his expertise
03:15 The Comfort, Learning, and Panic Zones
14:35 Dustin Levy's Career Trajectory
29:42 The Importance of Followers and Servant Leadership
35:06 The Value of Diverse Experiences in Career Development
37:43 Transitioning from Product Management to Sales Management
43:26 Managing Channel Partners and Exclusive vs. Non-Exclusive Representation Agreements
51:53 The Three Types of Salespeople: Technical Salespeople, Account Managers, and Sales Managers
59:41 Navigating the Intersection of Marketing and Sales
01:05:57 Re-Centering Through Exercise and Personal Well-Being
01:08:14 Addressing Buyer Risk Aversion
01:12:32 The Jolt Effect and Offering Recommendations
01:14:25 Taking Risk Off the Table
01:19:25 Dealing with Indecision in Sales
01:22:54 Professional Growth Resources
01:31:00 The Future of AI in Sales
01:34:19 Challenges and Opportunities in Industrial Manufacturing
01:36:38 Final Thoughts and Advice

Have you figured out how technical salespeople, channel sales and industrial marketing fit together into an overall revenue growth framework?

Check out the Overall Revenue Effectiveness™ Approach for more.