Sunday, September 20, 2009

Some Thoughts On Business: Sales Opportunities #1

Since we have taken this full on consulting job at a dealership to rebuild the once mighty commercial truck department, I have observed many things about salespeople and the opportunities they have with me as a buyer and how they recognize and treat those opportunities--as well as how they miss them.

I have to state up front that in these kind of advice posts, I am not wanting to state there is just a right and a wrong way to do things, but better than this, to point out what I observe and how I feel or respond to various salespeople from body companies and other salespeople selling a variety of services and products. You choose what is right and wrong as you will. Since I teach sales and have for many years, I am always interested to see how a salesperson approaches me and treats me. Since I am right now in the position of being a buyer, this is a great opportunity to watch and try to understand methods and thinking.

The Product and Salesperson Likability Is Not The Key


I am buying a number of units and have been for a few months. I have my personal favorite body companies and my favorite most loved body reps, but I am buying the majority of my items from others. Product is not the key. Salesperson likability is not the key. The key is helping me most with my objectives in building this department. How I am assisted in this arena is everything. In this, one company has stood high above the rest. As a direct result of this, they have received a high percentage of my business. As long as they continue in giving me what I need to help move this department forward, they will continue to get a high percentage of my business. It is that simple to me.

There are some companies that have much, much more product and a better selection of product as well, but the product is only a small part of the story. Of course, the ideal would be to have the best mix, best product, best price, best service, best relationship and best location. Who has that? No one I know. Most build good quality products with similar features and benefits. I can sell all of them, so one is not necessarily better than others. It is interesting that the one who works with you the best, how one will start liking them more and more, even if you weren't a fan to begin with.

It's not the product or the rep, but the overall strategy of partnering with your customer. I like the word partner a lot because that is what I look for in a company. How can we work together to achieve each other's objectives profitably and effectively? That is the best.

How To Become More Of A Partner
(and get more business!)


Here are some ideas to ponder about becoming more of a partner with your client. It is strictly from my own perspective of my own preferences. Call it how to sell me, if you like, but I think there are thousands, perhaps millions, like me with these preferences:
  • Contact me regularly so I don't forget you. How often should you call? There is nothing wrong with once a week to me. You need not take a lot of time in the call. Just touch base and see how things are going, is there anything you can do to help in any way, is everything okay with the product and service, and things like that. If everything is going well, it might take 2-3 minutes and you're back on your day. This regular contact demonstrates how much you care and how interested you are. Partners are very interested!
  • Show up regularly. Maybe this would be twice a month. It doesn't necessarily need to be any more than this, but what I want you to do is to look at my products and make suggestions. You would be the expert and give me advice of what might work better. You should know my product inside and out, else how could you give any advice? MOST IMPORTANT: Always, always, always have an appointment! DO NOT show up unannounced. That is rude and counterproductive. When I was a body rep, one client said, "look at my inventory first, otherwise you have nothing to say to me." I took that to heart and not only knew each clients inventory, I recorded it on every visit. One client called me once and asked me for a certain unit, I looked and said, "you have one in stock, VIN number 000909." Sure enough, they forgot they had it in stock.
  • When I order, remind me of options. I love options and always have. I was the king of options as a body rep because I suggested them to my clients. I would like the same. I forget about lift gates sometimes on service bodies, but that is a great application, so suggest them. Rackstraps is a great option and many times I just don't think about it, but I would buy those most of the time because it is a huge value to the end user, so suggest them! Know your own product and what I stock so you can make these kind of suggestions. It's not about you trying to tear my head off with additions, but it is about what is of value to the end user and how it gives me a leg up by having these in stock when others are timid. I like a leg up.
  • Take a lemon and make lemonade. Got any mis-built bodies lying around? Someone backed out of an order and left you holding the goods? I love those kind of opportunities. Tell me about them, and especially if there is a special deal going along for the ride. The best way to make profit is in the original purchase. How you buy is very important to the bottom line. I am always looking for ways to improve profit (we get paid on that and the dealer likes it too!) opportunities. Got something weird? I am always looking for something different and interesting. It gets my sales-guy juices flowing. Make me a list of your challenges and I just might help you be a super star!
  • Don't ply me with cash rewards for myself. Find ways to help me move the needle and it will never be cash to me or my team. Want to give cash? Give it to my dealer. He puts up the capital to buy them to begin with. Pay his or her flooring bill for a few months. That will move the needle. What we need more than anything is and will always be more customers or potential customers. We also need better products, better options, better service and better support. Of course, better pricing always works too.
  • I don't make my decisions on price alone; however, price is always a concern. I don't buy the lowest price any more than my clients buy the lowest price. I would pay the highest price if everything else that we need is taken care of. So, price is important because it is important to my clients, but I learned a long time ago that only 4% buy price and I am not one of them. Needless to say, this does NOT mean that when you show me a bargain I shouldn't pass up that I will turn you down. I am always looking for profit opportunities.
  • Service. If there is something on my lot that needs attention, I expect you to find a way to make it not need attention quickly. I can tell you this: I have some units on my lot that need attention and they are not being handled by the body company that made them. I made mention of it to the rep, but nothing has happened. It is not a huge deal, but it is interesting to see what kind of service I get and from whom. I am confident they would like more orders, but I will cherry pick that company only. How are your customers reacting to your service? You know they will. It is a matter of how. If I have to, I will pay to have it fixed myself and move on. Of course, the company who made it will not even know this problem exists, will they? I am not into telling them every week. I am looking for who my partners are and they are not acting anything like a partner.

Whatever product or service you are selling, some of these insights should be valuable to you in helping you become better and make more sales.

1 comment:

star said...

This is great blog post on thoughts on business. Thanks for sharing and updating me.
business sales