We asked several experts for some tips on how to get more productivity out of construction equipment sales forces:
1.) Have fewer meetings. Corey Vandermolen, Vermeer Midsouth, says texting and easy, web-based meeting platforms eliminate the need for some regular, in-person sales meetings.
2.) Give sales people the right tools. Bill Price, West Side Tractor Sales, is all about the basics and isn’t a fan of too many gimmicks. He equips his sales people’s trucks to be mobile offices, replete with battery-powered printers with scanning capability. Given the span of geography they cover, making reps drop off paperwork to the branch can cost them half a day … “and I don’t have much tolerance for that,” he said.
3.) Dealers should train their sales managers on how to be sales managers, says Troy Harrison, Troy Harrison and Associates. “The promotion from sales rep to sales manager has the highest fail rate in the business world,” he said. “I truly believe one of the biggest problems in sales management is nobody ever teaches them how to engage their sales people, how to coach and develop their sales people, and even how to build meaningful and effective relationships with their sales people. When you don’t do those things, you’re going to fail.”
4.) Close more deals by understanding what the customer values. “People are different, and you have to work to understand the person you’re in front of and what makes them tick,” says Price. “It’s awareness of the buyer and listening to them and what they value, and then articulating the value you bring. In some cases, sales reps are too concerned about their message and not enough about the customer––that will do more to lose a deal than anything. Get out of the mode of letting price be the default surrender button. Ask the right questions and listen for cues about their buying priorities, such as an extended warranty.
5.) Build multiple layers of relationships throughout the customer’s company, not just at the owner level. At the end of the day, says Vandermolen, “Relationship is still a big thing in our business and I don’t think you’ll ever get away from that … people are still going to buy from who they know, who they like, and who they trust.”
6.) Consider using your parts department as a talent funnel into the sales department, similar to how baseball teams use their minor league “farm systems.” Vandermolen says their last three or four sales hires have originated from the valuable experience of the parts counter.
7.) Women make excellent sales reps and sales managers. Price said: “We’ve got a unique environment where we have women throughout our organization — we have female ownership and we have key managers who are women. We just hired a new female sales manager and she’s tremendous. She brings a skillset that we didn’t have on our team — and her skill set isn’t because she’s female. We have sales reps in the field who are tremendously successful as females because they’re selling primarily to male customers right now. And frankly, they probably understand men better than our male sales people.”