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Prospecting for profit!

It was roughly two years ago that we wrote an article describing the topic of prospecting for product support sales and profits. While we are still a firm believer in the need for prospecting product support business, we have recently developed a slightly different trend in our overall approach to prospecting for your service sales and profits. Prospecting is the term we use to describe the activities that Product Support Sales Personnel and Sales Personnel use to identify potential new accounts. A prospect or a prospecting account is an account with which you are currently not doing business, or with which you are doing business only occasionally. Identifying prospects and converting them to customers is a Product Support Sales Representative’s (PSSR) most important task. In all markets there is an inevitable amount of customer turnover. Customers leave the business entirely or transfer a portion of their business to a new supplier each and every year. Prospecting is therefore a valuable skill. It helps you identify new customers who can replace those who leave, and who can be added to grow the business. A systematic and planned prospecting process also helps PSSRs make the most efficient use of their time. The fact is that all prospects are not equal. Some might take years to cultivate into productive accounts. Others might immediately see the benefits of working with you, or of regularly giving you a much higher portion of their business.

A recent change in our thinking has been the expressed need of truly involving the equipment dealer’s Service Manager(s) in the marketing of the dealer’s service department. It is extremely important for this position to become more proactive in the dealerships marketing of service. The importance of this comment comes from understanding two highly important service numbers: 1) Service Sales Contribution and/or, 2) Service Market Share. Both of these numbers indicate that equipment dealers sell the equipment, but neglect to achieve the service business from these same customers. Generally, equipment dealers fail to market their service: 1) before the sale of the equipment, 2) during the sale of the equipment and, 3) after the sale of the equipment. This is the dealership’s opportunity to harvest a “whole lot of low hanging fruit” within their territory.

This is why we call for the Service Manager and the Service Department to step forward and become more proactive in their approach to service marketing. The major question to be asked is: Why are customers buying our equipment, but not our service. I have personally gone into the field with Service Managers to ask this question. Prior to the call, I am amazed by the number of reasons given by the service department as to why their customers are not using the dealers’ services. During these calls, I am surprised by what the customer actually has to say and just what the results of the calls turn out to be. Some of the customers’ replies to the question are unbelievable, like: “You never really asked for our business.” “I tried to get you out here three years ago, but you were too busy to come.” “We used your equipment years ago but we found difficulty in having you service our equipment so we went to All-Good Equipment Company”. We could write an article on the reasons given for the customers’ finding legitimate reasons for getting their services performed elsewhere. Most of the time this is the Service Managers first time to hear these comments. In the past when the Service Manager has asked the equipment sales person why they are not getting the customer’s service business they have been told: “It’s because your labor rate is too high.” Prospecting efforts will be more effective if you have clearly defined sales goals. If you don’t know what type of customers you want, how your services might fill their needs or who your competitors are, your prospecting effort cannot be focused enough to do much good. Think about this. If you sold the equipment, shouldn’t your technicians have the most expertise in servicing that equipment?  Shouldn’t your parts department have the parts available to service this equipment much faster? Wanting to sell your services to everyone might mean that you do not spend enough time with any one prospect to really cultivate a loyal and profitable business relationship.

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