Success in commercial vehicle sales often comes down to small actions that place your dealership just ahead of the competition. Yet while the actions are small, the return in sales can be huge, which is why I refer to this principle as “the magnifier effect”. To think about it another way – consider a horse race where the lead horse only wins by a nose, but the prize money for 1st place is 10X what the runner-up receives. That is the power of the magnifier effect and why we are breaking down 6 Tips for Taking the Lead in Commercial Sales:
1. Have a Marketing Plan: Most salespeople know the basics of talking to prospects or closing a deal, but too few bother to actually formulate a strategic plan for generating interest, nurturing the lead, and making a sale. Taking the time to develop a marketing plan specific to your dealership, market, and consumers – one that includes appointments, newsletters, social media, and more – helps you streamline the process and move more inventory. Feel free to read our previous post about what it takes to build an “ideal sales day,” which details how to use a primary “anchor appointment” to strategically structure each workday.
2. Remain Top-of-Mind: Part of any successful marketing plan includes efforts to build and maintain relationships with prospects and customers. Staying in-touch with consumers helps ensure that you remain top-of-mind when they decide to make a purchase. Steve Gardner at Sheely Truck Center recently told me that a prospect called about a truck simply because he gets Steve’s monthly newsletter. In addition to regular newsletters, strategically plan to post on social media, email or text with relevant articles, and even stop by customer businesses from time-to-time. Each of those are intentional decisions that should be a part of your marketing plan, as they help keep your dealership top-of-mind.
3. Gain Referrals: You may know how to spec a truck or describe financing options, but that expertise is wasted if you don’t know how to get out of the dealership and obtain referrals. The people who are most likely to give you referrals are those who know, like, and trust you. This makes your current customers who have already decided your dealership is worth buying from – and with whom you’ve worked to maintain relationships – the perfect source for referrals. Receiving a list of a current customer’s other vendors is an especially effective strategy, because you then have leverage over the referrals because it was their own customer who initiated the contact.
4. Grow OEM Relationships: Most OEMs offer very helpful support, but too often dealers do not take full advantage of those opportunities. In fact, the best dealers not only familiarize themselves with available OEM services, they also work to help OEMs better understand the specific needs of the dealership. If you have not already, ask your OEM field rep to guide you through every aspect of the manufacturer website. You may even ask them to go on sales calls with you where both you and the field rep can learn more about how your dealership and the OEM can help each other.
5. Pursue Professional Development: As a veteran NFL player, Jerry Rice – one of the greatest wide receivers to ever play the game – would frequently outperform rookies during off-season workouts. The best sales professionals are like Rice (or Kobe Bryant, or Tom Brady, or Wayne Gretzky), who refused to coast on innate skills, but instead poured time and energy throughout his career into studying and perfecting his craft. Continue to develop your own knowledge and abilities by regularly reviewing the products and services offered by your dealership and by your competitors, researching emerging trends in the industry, practicing and developing your sales pitches, and attending commercial sales conferences and training events. Note: We’re holding an Ultimate Boot Camp for commercial dealers at Commercial Truck Trader headquarters in Norfolk, VA toward the end of July – we hope to see you there!
6. Build a Real Team: While much of a salesperson’s job is done alone, the best dealerships hire, train, and manage with a hands-on approach where supervisors empower the salespeople and the salespeople learn from one another. Whenever possible, management should (1) review the marketing plan, goals, and progress with the sales team, (2) spend a day in the field, making sales calls with a team member, and (3) meet individually with team members to get their feedback. Similarly, the team should work to get upper-management on board with their efforts, including regular updates about how the commercial side is contributing to the dealership and what changes could boost those contributions even more. Building a cohesive team helps ensure that everyone is satisfied with their work, growing as they learn from one another, and ultimately rowing in the same direction, all of which will dramatically improve your productivity and sales.
At the end of the day, it is not enough to simply be in the commercial business – you have to own your actions and outwork the market, intentionally developing those small steps that magnify into big pay-offs when you edge out your competitors to take the lead. Whether you sell wrecker tow trucks or utility service trucks, implement these tips and your dealership will be off to the races.
About the Authors
As the Founder and President of Commercial Truck Training, Ken has consulted, coached, and trained commercial dealers on individual, regional, and national business levels. Known as an industry leader, Ken has worked with companies like General Electric, General Motors, FCA, Ford, Commercial Truck Trader, and Equipment Trader.
Ethan is a Content Curator for Trader Interactive, serving the commercial brands Commercial Truck Trader, Commercial Web Services, and Equipment Trader. Ethan believes in using accessible language to elevate conversations about industry topics relevant to commercial dealers and their buyers.
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