Different types of customer visits necessitate different dealer approaches

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It’s no secret that visiting a customer can be a great way to build a relationship that leads to sales. However, it’s critical to note the difference between calling on an established customer and calling on an unknown prospect, says George Papp, professional sales consultant and trainer for the Used Truck Association’s (UTA) “Selling for Success” training ­seminars.

Pre-arranged calls

Scheduled in advance, pre-arranged calls are visits to customers with whom you have some relationship.

If you’ve done your homework on a customer, and especially if the relationship is strong, you should know their needs and the extent of their buying qualification, says Jim Ehrensperger, assistant manager of Arrow Truck Sales, Atlanta. So when you schedule a visit, you should be prepared with photos, financing options and other information about specific trucks.

Pulling up in a truck you know they’ll like doesn’t hurt, either. “That creates excitement,” Papp says. The sales process moves a lot faster when a buyer is sitting in a truck rather than looking at brochure.

“You have to do your research and know what types of equipment they need,” Ehrensperger says. “If they only run day cabs and I show up there in a sleeper, it’s a waste of time.” He said his research would often go as far as looking at Google Earth images to see what equipment a customer has.

“There’s been many times that I have taken a truck with me to visit a potential customer and came back with a check in hand,” he says. “Having the truck adds a lot of clout in the selling process.”

Salespeople should be comfortable and gregarious when visiting a customer. Whatever your relationship is, Papp says, work to strengthen it during the meeting. That will help sell the customer on not just the truck but also you and your dealership’s complete offering.

“There’s a big difference between someone who just wants to sell you something, and someone that wants to be your business partner for a long time,” Papp says.

He advises to listen carefully when a customer is talking, but don’t be too quiet. Long periods of silence make a customer uncomfortable.

Cold Calls

Cold calls are fact-finding missions, not selling opportunities. They provide a chance to introduce yourself to a prospective customer, get information about the business and its truck needs.

Can a cold call visit morph into a selling opportunity? Sure, but Papp says a salesperson should allow the customer to be the one who takes it in that direction. He says salespeople who try to turn cold calls into sales meetings get nowhere and give cold calling an unfairly poor reputation.

“There is no magic script, and while there are many helpful techniques and methods, there is no single answer,” Papp says in his training brochure.

He recommends being prompt, polite and direct during a cold call. Introduce yourself and ask if you can speak to the person in charge of truck purchasing. If that individual isn’t there, ask for contact information and leave your business card, but don’t push the issue.

Being friendly goes a long way. “When you’re [rude] they’re going to treat you that way in return,” Papp says.

The goal should be to lay the groundwork for another conversation and eventually a pre-arranged call.

“Cold calling makes things happen,” Papp says, and it can be the first step in finding a new customer.

This report is from Big Iron Dealer’s sister site, Successful Dealer, and is part of a series on the best practices for moving used trucks. Read the previous report, “Dealers should try disruptive marketing to shake up the status quo,” here.