Lack of professionalism in Sales: a rant

   #1  

MinnesotaEric

Elite Member
Joined
Feb 4, 2014
Messages
4,372
Location
Nevis, MN
Tractor
Kioti NX6010
I thought I'd cross-post something I wrote in the hopes that maybe one dealer or one territory rep would read it, take it to heart and try to raise the level of salesmanship and professionalism. I must have shopped two dozen different dealers in two months trying to find a tractor, but also trying to find a professional who could cross his tees and dot his ayes, and who had the skills and ability to work autonomously without need to go ask for help with every question, or to "ask the boss," if that was okay.

If no other thing is learned, take this to heart: teach your people to return phone calls and when leaving your phone number on voice mail say, who you are, who you're with slowly and then say, "I'll give you my number twice," and say your phone number twice. Why? because the first time you say it, people are scrambling around trying to get a pen to work, and the second time you say it, they got it written down without need to listen to the entire voice mail over again.

Anyway, onto my rant.

Plenty of members here report dealers that won't negotiate one penny on price, and actually get mad when someone tries to negotiate, or mention comparison shopping with another dealer.

Awe, the poor dealer? I comparison shopped and haggled.

As a guy who has at one point been in outside sales and as former a sales manager for outside sales, what astounded me in the entire industry was the lack of professionalism, familiarity and enthusiasm. If a sales cat is going to help people part with tens of thousands of dollars, he or she must understand that in the days of the internet they are a guide, and that their purpose insofar as customers are concerned, is to make everything easy.

Fixed prices remind me of Saturn. Remember them? Great little cars. The marque went under due to lack of sales volume because fixed prices tell me that no matter what, the dealer wants and additional $1500-2000 on top of a normal sales margin, end of quarter spiff, and end of year spiff. And for what? To stare at a computer screen to generate a quote on something you know nothing about and don't have on your lot, so you'll just need to order it anyway?

Reminds me of my last truck purchase. I knew exactly what I wanted but every dealer I visited messed around and wouldn't give me the deal I want (sold cars for a stint too so I understand their business). Eventually, I visited a dealer in a smaller town and I told him I want to order a truck $500 below invoice and the sales guy got it and said, "So all I need to do to get a sale is start saying, 'Yes'?"

Bamb! one of the funner purchases I've done and at the end of the day, the dealer still made $2800.

When I was shopping for a tractor I disclosed up front I wanted to do a cash sale inside of 45 days. The tractor business is so bad at people not returning phone calls, misquoting, producing incorrect or bad information, that I even got on the phone with several different territory reps. And that's when I discovered the source of the problem:

On whole these guys failed to understand that due to the internet, dealers are no longer the gatekeepers of information. The "cloud" is, we are the gatekeepers because we all chatter at each other on the internet and share information.

They failed to understand that sales people are now guides who offer as much or as little information and help and services to customers as needed, but sales people need to determine their "status" immediately in the beginning with the customer.

They failed to understand that due to the flattening of information, sales people need to become familiar with their own product lines and those sales people who cannot do so should be let go. Excuses that everything changes too much don't fly. I sold servers, fiber optic networks, and desktops business to business: do you really think that junk doesn't change every day of every week and then in an industry where 20%, one fifth of everything that gets parked out on your costumers' business will screw up or somehow explode in the first 60 days? That's what being a professional salesperson is all about managing the customers' expectations while making everything as easy as possible.

With the reps I spoke to, on whole, their company culture, or their own biases failed to understand that a sales person who helps people part with tens of dollars at a time will get blown out of the water by a salesperson who helps people part with hundreds of dollars at a time. So too will a sales person who helps people part with thousands of dollars at a time be blown out of the water by the professional who helps people part with tens of thousands and hundreds of thousands of dollars at a time. Agg and heavy equipment sales isn't like walking into Radio Shack where the help isn't skilled.

At the same time, I understand that not everybody can be a sales person. To be in sales and be good, sales people must be chatty. By chatty, they must be able to easily drift into conversations, be able to immediately establish empathy with their customer and then guide the customer along the way points of making a sale that satisfies their customers expectations.

When I sold B to B, I knew if I had a guy talking about beer or fishing in the first five minutes, I knew I was going to sell him or her something at some point. It was about establishing relationships, and familiarity with my own product lines where I knew I could provide a solution to my customers needs and meet or exceed their expectations by quickly allowing my customer to frame their expectations for me and identifying with those expectations.

Clumsily staring into a computer screen while attempting to quote a tractor using software you're not familiar with is no way to sell to anybody, let alone assert that the price is the price.


</rant>
 
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   #2  

ShowroomShine

Gold Member
Joined
May 21, 2014
Messages
381
Location
Raleigh NC
Tractor
2019 Case IH 55A
J'd like to take a chance to respond to a few things in your rant, and get your feedback on my thoughts. I'm a new sales rep for a heavy equipment company (less than 2 months sales experience). My degree is in heavy equipment, but I have 0 "professional" sales experience. My specialty at the company is municipal sales, so mostly I'm bidding on equipment, however a relationship is extremely important to have the municipality call me first before a bid goes out.

I thought I'd cross-post something I wrote in the hopes that maybe one dealer or one territory rep would read it, take it to heart and try to raise the level of salesmanship and professionalism. I must have shopped two dozen different dealers in two months trying to find a tractor, but also trying to find a professional who could cross his tees and dot his ayes, and who had the skills and ability to work autonomously without need to go ask for help with every question, or to "ask the boss," if that was okay.

This, I'm trying to get better at. Given, I'm new, however when I price anything over $10,000 I have to go check with someone first.

If no other thing is learned, take this to heart: teach your people to return phone calls and when leaving your phone number on voice mail say, who you are, who you're with slowly and then say, "I'll give you my number twice," and say your phone number twice. Why? because the first time you say it, people are scrambling around trying to get a pen to work, and the second time you say it, they got it written down without need to listen to the entire voice mail over again.

Returning calls is something I take very serious. Nothing I hate worse than waiting on someone to call me back, so I make sure I'm not that person.
Anyway, onto my rant.



Awe, the poor dealer? I comparison shopped and haggled.

As a guy who has at one point been in outside sales and as former a sales manager for outside sales, what astounded me in the entire industry was the lack of professionalism, familiarity and enthusiasm. If a sales cat is going to help people part with tens of thousands of dollars, he or she must understand that in the days of the internet they are a guide, and that their purpose insofar as customers are concerned, is to make everything easy.

Fixed prices remind me of Saturn. Remember them? Great little cars. The marque went under due to lack of sales volume because fixed prices tell me that no matter what, the dealer wants and additional $1500-2000 on top of a normal sales margin, end of quarter spiff, and end of year spiff. And for what? To stare at a computer screen to generate a quote on something you know nothing about and don't have on your lot, so you'll just need to order it anyway?

Reminds me of my last truck purchase. I knew exactly what I wanted but every dealer I visited messed around and wouldn't give me the deal I want (sold cars for a stint too so I understand their business). Eventually, I visited a dealer in a smaller town and I told him I want to order a truck $500 below invoice and the sales guy got it and said, "So all I need to do to get a sale is start saying, 'Yes'?"

Bamb! one of the funner purchases I've done and at the end of the day, the dealer still made $2800.

One of our product reps told me to listen twice as much as you talk.

When I was shopping for a tractor I disclosed up front I wanted to do a cash sale inside of 45 days. The tractor business is so bad at people not returning phone calls, misquoting, producing incorrect or bad information, that I even got on the phone with several different territory reps. And that's when I discovered the source of the problem:

I hate shopping for things and get incorrect information, especially when *I* know the correct information before I walk in the door. I also hate when other sales reps just say things to be talking, whether true or not.

On whole these guys failed to understand that due to the internet, dealers are no longer the gatekeepers of information. The "cloud" is, we are the gatekeepers because we all chatter at each other on the internet and share information.

They failed to understand that sales people are now guides who offer as much or as little information and help and services to customers as needed, but sales people need to determine their "status" immediately in the beginning with the customer.

They failed to understand that due to the flattening of information, sales people need to become familiar with their own product lines and those sales people who cannot do so should be let go. Excuses that everything changes too much don't fly. I sold servers, fiber optic networks, and desktops business to business: do you really think that junk doesn't change every day of every week and then in an industry where 20%, one fifth of everything that gets parked out on your costumers' business will screw up or somehow explode in the first 60 days? That's what being a professional salesperson is all about managing the customers' expectations while making everything as easy as possible.

I try to become as familiar as I can with what we sell. I am constantly doing training, out in the lot driving a piece of equipment, looking at brochures, etc. Nothing I hate worse than asking someone something relatively simple and having them look confused. THAT being said, I sell nearly 250 different pieces of equipment. Its inevitable that a customer will ask a question I wont know the answer to. When they do, I make it a point to say "I dont know, but I'll find out as soon as possible".

With the reps I spoke to, on whole, their company culture, or their own biases failed to understand that a sales person who helps people part with tens of dollars at a time will get blown out of the water by a salesperson who helps people part with hundreds of dollars at a time. So too will a sales person who helps people part with thousands of dollars at a time be blown out of the water by the professional who helps people part with tens of thousands and hundreds of thousands of dollars at a time. Agg and heavy equipment sales isn't like walking into Radio Shack where the help isn't skilled.

At the same time, I understand that not everybody can be a sales person. To be in sales and be good, sales people must be chatty. By chatty, they must be able to easily drift into conversations, be able to immediately establish empathy with their customer and then guide the customer along the way points of making a sale that satisfies their customers expectations.

I've also been told that there is a time to shut up. You can talk yourself into a corner. Co-worker of mine did this recently. Customer was asking about a tier 4 tractor that was on our lot, and was it DPF or EGR. Co-worker told him it was EGR and how much better DPF was than EGR. Come to find out, the tractor we had was an EGR tractor and he lost that customer.

When I sold B to B, I knew if I had a guy talking about beer or fishing in the first five minutes, I knew I was going to sell him or her something at some point. It was about establishing relationships, and familiarity with my own product lines where I knew I could provide a solution to my customers needs and meet or exceed their expectations by quickly allowing my customer to frame their expectations for me and identifying with those expectations.

When I go out to meet customers (mostly public works directors, DOT, town managers etc), my first visit is just to drop off some literature and cards. I'm not trying to sell anything at first. I'm trying to talk. Like you, if I can talk about life rather than heavy equipment and build a positive relationship from the start, he'd be more likely to call me in the future I hope.

Clumsily staring into a computer screen while attempting to quote a tractor using software you're not familiar with is no way to sell to anybody, let alone assert that the price is the price.


</rant>
 
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  • Thread Starter
#3  
OP
MinnesotaEric

MinnesotaEric

Elite Member
Joined
Feb 4, 2014
Messages
4,372
Location
Nevis, MN
Tractor
Kioti NX6010
J'd like to take a chance to respond to a few things in your rant, and get your feedback on my thoughts. I'm a new sales rep for a heavy equipment company (less than 2 months sales experience). My degree is in heavy equipment, but I have 0 "professional" sales experience. My specialty at the company is municipal sales, so mostly I'm bidding on equipment, however a relationship is extremely important to have the municipality call me first before a bid goes out.

There are degrees in heavy equipment? I just learned something new.

If you know what you're company's cost is, the margin you need in order to "eat," then your company is messing up by not allowing you to adjust your price and value add as necessary.

I get the long face conversation when selling below suggested margin with your manager/boss whatever, but there is one diagnostic question to ask: "How is your day going?"

No matter how their day is going, good, bad, indifferent, the right response to the answer is, "Great, I just wrote up a sale for such and such." God, bad, indifferent, "Great, I just closed another sale." And smile when you say it. And mean your smile. Manage the bosses expectations in terms of something is better than nothing, a sale is better than no sale (unless you sold below the price we need to eat, keep the lights on, et cetra). And still selling at a loss can work if you know the thing you sell will recap profits in service or add-on parts, or labor to set-up. Great, I undercut our competition and we'll realize a profit on X in X time frame, or I'll buy you lunch.

If your really good you can become the indispensable primadonna I became when I realized as an outside sales rep, I was outselling everybody combined. At that point I wanted more action in ownership of the company as a limited partner and I became the sales manager, which was fine because then I got to play the role of good cop and bad cop. Awesome!
 
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   #5  

pinetree10

Gold Member
Joined
Feb 24, 2013
Messages
277
Location
Western New York
Tractor
JD 2720
Around here there's one local company that owns several tractor dealerships all within an hour's drive of my house so I shopped all three of them and had negative experiences at two of them. At one store the salesman never cleared the tractor parts off the chair next to his desk so I could sit down, so I stood the whole time he worked up a quote. I could have easily asked to sit down but I waited to see how long it took him to offer me the chair. He never did, so I took the quote on paper and never went back. At the other store the salesman was new, so I couldn't hold too much against him, but he was too much salesman and not enough knowledgeable employee so I didn't buy from him either. I wound up at the most distant dealership from my house and bought from an experienced salesman who was pretty no-nonsense, which I generally like, and his price beat the other two by over $700. I wondered how that was possible since they all work for the same local owner. I was happy to get 0% for 72 months and have the tractor I'd been wanting for over 10 years, but the whole experience could have been better. I do hope dealerships across the country visit this site often and learn from what is posted here. Seems like that would be a smart move.
 
   #7  

Sysop

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Fairmont, WV
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Mahindra 4035HST purchased 2013 - Husqvarna TS348-D purchased 2019 - Craftsman 42" HST purchased 2003
Dang, that's a long post! Couldn't read it all...

You click on something titled "RANT" and complain about how long it is? Something tells me you couldn't read any of it, or couldn't understand any of it that you read, whichever...
 
   #8  

Hiltz

Gold Member
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May 1, 2009
Messages
345
Location
Michigan
Tractor
JD 790
Dang, that's a long post! Couldn't read it all...

I agree with everything you said Eric. By the time Im ready for a big purchase like a tractor or car I know everthing about my purchase. I don't understand the mentality of salesman. They act as if the consumers don't have access to the internet. With all the information available there is simply no reason to be uniformed.
I am also very tired of salesmen and their shtick. I personally cant wait for cars, trucks, and tractors to be sold by Walmart and Amazon.
 
   #9  

Carl_NH

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Apr 5, 2002
Messages
2,524
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Coastal NH
Tractor
01 Kubota B21TLB, 2010 Ferris 52" ZTR, Cub Cadet 1811, Gravely Super8
Eric,

I started in technical service at a equipment dealership, (IH then Case) then sold process equipment and software ranging from $50K to $500K over 32 years as an independent rep and direct sales - always #1 or 2, and I do appreciate customers that are knowledgeable in what they want, that have done their due diligence up front. They ask good questions and most of the time I know the answers, if I don't know - I get the answers, and when I leave a VM its always my contact # twice.

Many times I hear and or get a call or web request of - I looked at your web site and I want pricing without any indication of what they want, so the questions/queries of "what are you trying to do or what do you want to accomplish" then start to determine the end goal.

If you have visited 24 dealers in 2 months as you stated, it would appear you haven't defined your needs up front enough over the phone or web requests.

When a major purchase is in consideration (over $7-10K), I put together a list - make, model, features desired, research them and then create a short list of models/features and contact the various dealers/suppliers in the region and provide this information prior to a visit.

For example, the Kubota B21 - one dealer had one that I tested and liked, but the sales and management weren't that interested in selling it, so I called the owner of another dealership - told him what I wanted, and the price, and we agreed over the phone, great deal no hassle - easy.

Same thing with the ZTR - never met the dealer, bought it over the phone but I knew what I wanted. So the moral of this is if you define your requirements and a model, then simply pick a dealer/seller. The sad thing is many dealerships (like Pinetree found) are becoming more prevalent forming an oligopoly for that brand in a wide region or area.
 

Monster5601

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May 17, 2010
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796
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Oakland, MI
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Kubota B3030 R4 Tires
There are two rules in sales regardless of what is being sold. Rule one is people buy from people, rule two is rule one has always been and will likely remain. Returning calls, professionalism, knowing the products you sell, understand your customer needs, these are the characteristics a person has to have to sell to another person.
 
 
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