Coach Ken: A New World
By Ken Taylor, Commercial Truck Training
I recently returned from a national meeting that was eye opening! I had the opportunity to interact with manufacturers, dealers, and support industries to the commercial and fleet dealers across the nation. Knowing that I worked directly with commercial and fleet dealers nationwide, the big question asked repeatedly was, “How do we grow our business in this very unique time?” My advice was more detailed than most expected, but it was the advice I have been giving to dozens of dealers for the last year. Ready?
1. Stay in contact- If you lack inventory, or your good customers are not in the market, you cannot stop making sales calls. One thing your customers and prospects want in difficult times is “information.” That means being in close contact with your manufacturer’s representative, reading key publications and supplying your prospects and customers with updates.
2. Go the extra mile- I have lived by a philosophy for the last two decades that I repeat often, “The road to the extra mile is never crowded.” In difficult times, most people withdraw or start the “blame game” of why they can’t be successful. It’s the market’s fault, it’s the economy, even blaming customers! What is involved in going the “extra mile?”
a. Divide your contacts into three categories:
i. Top customers that use you almost exclusively.
ii. New customers that have not had the chance to experience all the services you can provide.
iii. Prospects that have not had the opportunity to experience the quality that you can provide.
b. Determine the best method of contact and make sure you determine how often you need to do the following:
i. Mail- Either the US Postal Service or the Internet.
ii. Visit- At functions, or getting face to face appointments.
iii. Phone- Yes, the good old fashion telephone call!
Notice the first letter of each contact method spells M.V.P. Yes, that’s right, those letters also stand for “Most Valuable Player,” which is what you will be if you stay in contact when your competition is “crying the blues.”
3. Grow your knowledge base. If you are a true professional, you never stop learning. In fact the most important knowledge to be gained falls into the following categories:
a. Product knowledge- This includes every aspect of a truck or van from bumper to bumper. It is a great time to conduct “walkarounds” and Zoom calls to talk about your vehicles’ advantages.
b. Finance knowledge- If you have not already learned the ends and outs of “lines of credit,” “TRAC Leasing,” “maintenance programs,” or “extended warranties,” now is the time to become an expert.
c. Sales skill knowledge- I was in a meeting with dealership personnel recently in the Pacific Northwest to deliver a two day training class on “Outside Commercial Sales.” We role played word tracks, practiced how to prospect and close in the outside sales process, and multiple ways to gain new customers.
d. Marketing knowledge- Marketing in commercial and fleet is totally different from the retail side of the automotive business. It includes:
i. Electronic newsletters that go out monthly and can be tracked regarding who opens them and when.
ii. Flier marketing to showcase your inventory and processes.
iii. Event marketing at trade shows, county fairs, and contractor days at Lowes, Home Depot, and supply companies such as Lumber Supply.
iv. YouTube marketing through walkarounds and customer testimonials.
v. Leveraging social media such as Facebook, Linkedin, TikTok and Instagram. Did you know that YouTube has over 2.2 billion followers and Facebook has over 2.96 billion?
e. The most basic but under-utilized marketing tool, the good old fashion “thank you card.” You can have custom cards made for your department. The best source for this is www.vistaprint.com. You can use any of their ready-made cards or design your own and download the images. They will design the card for you. Hint: Buy sheets of stamps from the post office and always have your stamps and cards with you. When you finish a sales call or you’ve just sold a truck, you will be ready to send the good old fashion thank you card that no one sends anymore!
I could give you about a dozen other ideas to grow your business, but we will save those for another issue. The bottom line is simply, “Do more than is expected for your customers and you will get a greater return. The road to the extra mile is a lonely one, but it is filled with reward!”