There is a quote we have all heard for years: “If you are not growing, your dying.” I don’t know if you are dying, but I do know that after having consulted with and trained hundreds of dealerships over the last two decades that if you are not growing, you are creating “non-growing pains.” Everyone talks about having growing pains, but the worst kind of “pains” you can experience are “complacency” and “stagnation.” Here are some warning signs for the commercial manager and the sales department:
- You individual sales consultants are stuck in that 8 to 12 units per month range or worse, you’re not even close to those numbers.
- You are getting numerous complaints that your sales team cannot get out the door due to paperwork and an archaic system or no system.
- You start finding out that some of your customers have bought from someone else even though you haven’t done anything wrong (at least in your own mind).
- You’ve been operating without a business plan for quite a while without a problem. (It is a real problem since there are no detailed plans or strategies on growing your business)
- You are a member of several groups (Home Builders, AGC, ABC, PHCC or the Chamber of Commerce), but everyone claims they are too busy to go to meetings much less be on committees or sponsor events. By the way if you don’t know what some of the groups above are, you have a problem.
- Things are starting to slip through the cracks, it’s not serious yet but in reality it is the first signs of complacency.
- You have stopped sponsoring or attending events because in your mind you haven’t gotten any results. (In reality you have not been doing the right things to get business)
- Your sales team has a multitude of reasons they cannot get out and make sales calls (some of them valid!) such as too much paperwork, delivery problems, they will miss incoming leads, they don’t need to get out, the customers will call them, etc.
- Retail sales people are picking off your commercial customers when your sales team is outside making calls. (Easy problem to solve)
- Your business development center is either trying to book appointments with business customers and sending them to the retail sales staff or they are relentless about getting them to come in for an appointment. (Get a clue, the business customers are too busy to come to the dealership and you will lose the caller forever)
There are more reasons but I think you get the picture. At this point I think what you are looking for is answers. Well, you’ve come to the right place! Most of the dealerships with whom we consult ALWAYS have four or more of these issues. I am going to give you my best suggestions for overcoming the “non-growing pain” blues.
- Everything starts at the top. The dealer principal, GM and GSM have to understand how the commercial business can be 30% to 40% plus of the dealerships profits. They also have to trust the commercial manager (hopefully you have one versus dipping your toe in the water).
- A true commercial manager that is also a top sales manager. Even if you only have two sales people a manager is critical to the success of the department provided he or she understands the difference between an operational manager versus a true sales manager. We are so serious about this we now have a commercial manager boot camp.
- Create an actual working business plan for the department that you can review on a weekly basis. I have sample plans I will send you that give you an idea of how a great plan should work. This is a critical task and many of the manufacturer programs require a business plan.
- Administrative assistant- This has been the most important and cost effective move we have made with commercial departments. This person will pay for themselves several times over if used effectively. They take a lot of the paperwork burden off the sales staff so they can be outside developing business. We also train this person on how to make outbound telephone calls to get appointments for the sales team. We have found that it’s not that the commercial sales consultants are afraid to meet with prospects, it is the fact they don’t like working the phones to get appointments. This one move by a commercial department can take sales to the next level.
- Really participate when you join trade associations. We did a survey of 20 top commercial sales consultants that had been in commercial sales for at least 15 years and were doing more than 20 unit sales per month. One of the questions I asked was “how much of your current business can you trace to being active in trade associations?” The average was 61% of their business came from developing strong relationships in these organizations. If you don’t know how to maximize these powerful relationships, send for my free report. Just email me at email@example.com.
- As part of your plan above set goals on activities that cover sales calls, marketing, events, and quotes. I am amazed at how well this works when we consult with a dealer to help grow their commercial business. What gets measured and reinforced gets done.
- Equipment Trader will more than pay for itself, but you have to work it consistently. Contact your ET rep today and they will help you get results.
- Never stop training your people. At Ken Taylor & Associates, Inc. our team uncovers new marketing ideas and we produce new ways to get in doors almost weekly. Your team should be doing the same!
- Start getting two to three extra leads a week or more by training your business development center on how to separate business prospects from consumers. In many dealerships. Need some guidance? Email me.
- Get excited about your business; I think this will be the best year ever for equipment sales!
The great humorist Will Rogers once said, “When you’re through learning, you’re through.” Make sure you never stop growing your commercial department. We are in fast changing times and doing what you always did will only get you further behind. Live to win!
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