Equipment Trader

I’m a big reader, averaging one book every two weeks. My topics are usually related to sales, customer service, leadership, or motivation. That may sound boring to some, but I consistently learn things that make me a better sales-consultant, dealer-trainer, and professional-coach. As the old saying goes, “when you’re through learning, you’re through.” In that spirit, I recently finished a great sales-management book titled, “The Sales Manager’s Guide to Greatness” by Kevin F. Davis. There are a lot of great ideas in the book which are relevant to equipment salespeople, but the topic that stood out most to me was the concept of “Skill and Will.” Read More

The California Gold Rush may have ended over 160 years ago, but there is still gold to be found among your own customers. Every time I give a seminar or consult for a dealership, I’m asked, “What’s the fastest way to grow my business?” My answer is always the same: “Through your best clients.” Just like gold that has been wisely invested, our top customers maintain and increase in value over time, providing both retained business and prospect referrals. Read More

Here’s a fun fact: bottlenose dolphins and “false-killer whales” (which happen to look like orcas) are distinct species, but often form interspecies “super-pods” to coordinate hunting, with dolphins eating first and making way for the false-killers to prey upon smaller mackerel schools that hide among larger fish. In fact, dolphins and false-killers not only hunt together, but socialize, travel, rest, and even babysit in groups, forming lifelong bonds that occur over many years and great distances. At first glance, there’s no reason for these separate species to interact, but they’ve learned that together — in numbers which can reach into the hundreds — they can accomplish complementary goals. That diverse groups provide opportunities for mutual gain is a lesson commercial salespeople should learn as well. Read More

I get phone-calls and emails almost weekly from new commercial equipment salespeople. Many of them are near the end of a three- or six-month draw against commission and are looking for answers on how to survive when their draw disappears and their income becomes based on commission. I typically ask the same questions — and receive the same answers:

Q: “What has been your main prospecting activity?

A: “I was told to knock on doors of local businesses.

Q: “Have you attended any trade associations or group functions?

A: “I only go to the Chamber of Commerce events.”

Q: “Doing those activities, have you had meetings with decision-makers?

A: “Very rarely. How do I get those appointments?

You get the idea. Only a small percentage of these new hires make it past the guaranteed draw period, much to the frustration of the commercial sales manager. What sets apart the dealerships that seem to consistently find success when building their team? In my view, the answer lies in developing and implementing quality hiring, training, and management practices. Here are 10 tips (3 tips on hiring, 5 on training, 2 on management) to help you build the best dealership team: Read More

Yes, yes, I know the title sounds negative. Losing sales, after all, is a dealership’s worst nightmare. But talking about what NOT to do helps dealers identify mistakes to avoid and highlights the more productive solutions commercial salespeople should pursue. It’s an important conversation, because some of those pitfalls are not just small stumbles along the way, but major setbacks that contribute to missed sales opportunities and negative attitudes among sales team members. In other words, highlighting “How to Lose Equipment Sales” allows us to have a discussion about if your dealership’s systems and practices perpetuate a culture of success or failure. Let’s dig into 3 quick scenarios: Read More

As the Fall season begins, we’ll soon be feeling a chill in the air and warming up by a fireplace with cups of hot chocolate or coffee (possibly pumpkin-spiced). However, warming up your cold calls should be a year-round practice! Most new commercial sales consultants struggle to get started with cold calls, and it is by far the most frequent and recurring topic I receive questions about. I am a big proponent of network- and referral-based selling, but I am not against cold calling. In fact, cold calls very often make perfect sense, if you do them right. Read More

Many commercial sales managers can get caught in a dilemma I refer to as “the disparate sales team.” A disparate sales team includes both new and experienced sales consultants. The novices, those who are new to commercial sales, are often millennials in their 20s and 30s and bring with them an awareness of new, innovative ways of connecting and an enthusiasm for trying new strategies and methods. The old pros, those who have been around the sales block a few times, are often in their 50s and 60s and offer classic sales lessons that can stand the test of time.

Each team member, the novices and the old pros, each bring helpful knowledge and abilities to the table. But without guidance, they may not learn from each other. This is a big risk, as there are more dealerships than ever getting into the commercial side of the business. I know, because we are contacted constantly by retail dealers interested in pursuing commercial sales. Clearly, it’s incredibly important that commercial sales managers unite their novices and old pros, and together develop relevant skills that can keep your dealership productive and competitive. That’s why today we’re breaking down 7 Steps for Creating a More Productive Sales Team!! Read More

Managers will often tell me about the “talent” and “potential” they see in an applicant or new hire. If that talent and potential work out, that’s great, but usually when I hear those words — especially when they’re combined to discuss “potential talent” — I start to worry. Potential suggests that person “could be” productive and successful one day, if only they receive the right industry and product education, or obtain the right list of targeted prospects, or learn the right sales skills. I don’t mean to sound negative, but there’s a lot of uncertainty in the word “potential.” That’s why, when a dealership’s general manager or commercial sales manager wants me to coach a new hire, or send them to one of our Ultimate Boot Camps, I first have to ask a number of questions. And those questions aren’t about their potential; I want to know about their actions. Read More

In Allan Dib’s book, “The 1-Page Marketing Plan,” Dib provides one of the best examples of marketing I have ever read. Here is an excerpt from the book:

“If the circus is coming to town and you paint a sign saying, ‘Circus Coming to the Showground Saturday,’ that’s advertising.

If you put the sign on the back of an elephant and walk it into town, that’s promotion.

If the elephant walks through the mayor’s flower bed and the local newspaper writes a story about it, that’s publicity.

If you get the mayor to laugh about it, that’s public relations.

If the town’s citizens buy a ticket to attend, as well as buy concessions, that’s sales.

And if you planned the whole thing, that’s marketing.” Read More

Is there such a thing as a typical day for a commercial sales consultant? Maybe not, but there absolutely are certain priorities and actions that can make a day ideal for a dealership.

A commercial salesperson’s ideal day has its beginnings in the days and weeks beforehand, through a process known as “strategic planning”. A typical day that lacks previous planning means that we arrive to work unprepared to avoid distractions or to seize opportunities. An ideal day, however, is intentionally structured by focused and prepared dealers who consistently lay the groundwork for future success and create their own opportunities. Read More

2018 has so far been a breakthrough year. Our commercial sales training program has had more telephone calls in the last two months from dealerships who suddenly want to get into commercial sales than in the last five years combined. Over the last few years, sales have hit records as an improving economy, rising wages, and low interest rates have driven consumers to invest in new machinery. Read More