Benefits From the Customers Perspective

In the first few months as a new salesman in late 1972, my manager loaned me some 33 1/3 records about sales to help me learn. I remember most of the messages today. One came to mind this morning. Here's the quote: ". . . last year in America, people bought one million quarter inch drills, but they didn't want quarter inch drills, they wanted quarter inch holes." I do not remember the person on this record, but have never forgotten that message. It's been well worn over the years, but is a great reminder to focus on the benefit of a product and not the product itself, because it's true that people don't want products, they want solutions and feelings.

I relate this to commercial truck inventory (or any other inventory) in that people don't want 8' service bodies, they want something else. If you focus on the something else, you will sell more service bodies and this is also a key in this message: you will make more gross!

Let's say that you have enough sales and normal stocking level of about five 8' service bodies. If you think of the service body, you might just buy 5 of the same thing, so that you have 5 on the ground ready to go. If you think of the benefits, you might stock one with horizontal compartments, one without a rack, a low pro, a colored unit, one with cargo bed enclosure and so on.

Ask yourself something like this: If I were an electrician, how would I want to use this body and what would be important to me? Or, you might ask, what are some of the benefits that I see in this body of how different people might make use of it? I used to do this and it caused me to stock different things and make a lot more sales than I would have otherwise. I could see solutions. I imagined it. It allowed me to give a different presentation to show enthusiasm and to show value. What are the benefits from the customers perspective.

If you stock items with the benefit to the customer in mind, you will have a more effective inventory. You will also be able to show different solutions for the same product. In scenario number one, we have 5 service bodies the same, in solution number two, we have quite a varied selection of solutions like cargo bed enclosure, color, low pro, horizontal compartments, no rack and so on. That just scratches the surface of options you can consider, yet each one offers a different solution that adds value.

This same approach is valid with all your commercial inventory. Stocking only 12' contractors on diesel F450 or GM 4500 chassis is ineffective and wasteful. The 9' and 10' and 14' should be considered carefully. In addition, there are many options that can be added here and there that will solve different problems and provide more value. Consider rear mounted underbed boxes with the wheel skirt, drawer assemblies in compartments, alternate box placement or alternate size boxes, color and many more.

The more creative you get, the more excited you will get because now you have something to sell! Solving problems is great fun. Seeing the prospect get excited with you is magical. You will also make substantially higher gross margins because you are solving problems that other dealers cannot solve. You are showing products the other dealers do not have. You are leading!

Will you make mistakes? I sure hope so. If you are not willing to make a mistake, your potential is severely diminished. You will learn from your mistakes. I guarantee you that the mistakes will most likely be very few and insignificant in comparison to your successes. The fruit is on the limb, not the trunk. Go on out there and remember to focus on the benefits from the customers perspective.

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