Even with the internet, shopping for equipment, especially when you need a machine in a hurry, is like looking for a needle in a haystack. Likewise for dealer salespeople with hundreds of potential customers — finding one primed to buy is a big challenge.
Enter Heave, an online equipment transaction website with a simple solution. With it, buyers type in the machine they want to purchase or rent. Sellers on the site, if they have that machine, respond with a quote. That’s it. The entire exchange can be handled on a smartphone, tablet or computer in minutes.
The problem with the traditional sales model is that it takes too long and too much of everybody’s time, says Alex Kraft, founder and CEO of Heave. Kraft knows what he's talking about. He’s been involved in heavy equipment sales for the past 17 years and was the chief operating officer for Flagler Construction Equipment, which is now part of Alta Equipment.
“It seemed like we had to fight for every deal. In all my time in the industry, nobody had answered the question about why it was so time- consuming for customers to get answers,” says Kraft. In the traditional sales model, it could take days to get a phone call returned, maybe weeks of research, he says.
Simple, easy, fast
Heave is more like an RFQ system. “After the contractor enters what kind of machine he is looking for, that information is posted to the site, much like a social media post,” says Kraft. “The sales reps who are signed up for our website get an alert, and then they can log in and answer it. Salesmen who don't have an account can still see the requests; they just have to have an account in order to actually quote a price to that customer.”
After that it’s up to the buyer and seller to negotiate the final price and any other details to consummate the deal. Heave is completely hands-off and brand agnostic. It doesn’t get involved in the contractual process. It doesn’t get a percentage of the sale.
The website makes its money advertising ancillary services like financing, warranties and insurance. “It’s zero cost for buyer and seller,” says Kraft. “Both get exactly what they need and only what they need. We make sure that the customer gets three, four or five offers via email or text, and they can compare and decide right there.”
Another feature of Heave is auto-quote. Dealer salespeople and contractors can upload the inventory they have for sale or rent. Then every time someone puts in a request for a particular machine, it gets quoted to them immediately from the inventory, like a matching service, says Kraft.
Get it done
In the traditional model, salespeople are taught to keep calling and showing up, but that doesn’t provide much value for either side, says Kraft. “If you are a new salesman, you can go onto Heave and see only customers who are interested in buying or renting something. It eliminates cold calls and trying to chase down contractors in the field,” he says. For contractors, it eliminates hours of online research or thumbing through shopper magazines.
“Initially, we see great potential for our service to help the compact buyers,” says Kraft. “It's natural for sales professionals to spend the majority of their time focusing on high-profile accounts or those that buy or rent the most equipment annually. So the small to midsize customers often get pushed to the back of the line. Our platform surfaces these buyers and helps give them the attention they deserve.”
Kraft adds that after examining an EDA report he looked at from the Tampa area (EDA is a division of Equipment World's parent, Randall-Reilly), he found there were 3,000 contractors who had bought a compact machine there in the last three years — way more than any dealer salesperson could contact. "That’s where Heave technology can solve the problem,” he says.
A new online model
Heave offers two key differences that distinguish it from other online equipment brokers, says Kraft.
One: Traditional online entities keep their fingers in the pie for the entire transaction. They crawl the internet for listings, source the equipment from a dealer as a third party and then pay the dealer after the customer pays them. “We don’t do any of that,” says Kraft. “We just surface the demand from the contractor. We want the dealers to see the customer and then transact the deal just like normal.”
Two: Traditional online sites typically post the prices publicly. With Heave, the price is seen only by the contractor and the dealer salesperson. “By keeping the pricing private, I feel like we can we give the dealers and the sales rep more confidence in providing a real market price, which helps both sides get a deal done,” says Kraft.
“The concept of a listing today causes dealers to list an artificially high price,” says Kraft. “It puts all the effort onto the customer to search through thousands of listings in order to find a machine they are interested in. Our concept is the exact opposite. We start with the customer declaring what they want, then we only bring them the machines that fit their criteria.”