Recently, a listener from Australia wrote us requesting an episode on commercial truck sales. Longtime friend and loyal listener Joe Pecherski came to mind as the perfect guest to honor his request.
For the last 15 years, Joe has been the Commercial and Medium Duty Truck manager for the Sellers Auto Group in Farmington Hills, MI. Joe got to Sellers by way of the rental car business. Starting in college, he worked in various roles of leadership and management. He worked closely with his co-worker Debbie, whose family owned the company. They worked so well together they married each other and eventually became owners of the business. Together, they operated rental car offices in over 15 different dealerships for 20 years.
When it was time to move on from the rental car business, Joe used his contacts at those 15 dealerships to find his next opportunity. The owner of Sellers was just entering into the commercial truck business and wanted to partner with someone who could learn the business alongside him. It was Joe’s entrepreneurial spirit and impressive book of contacts that landed him the job.
Joe shares that there is a great deal of opportunity in the commercial truck business, but only for those who do it right. He explains that it is not a job where one can sit passively in the office and wait for the phone to ring. There are no fresh ups and little to no advertising by the dealership. He explains that commercial truck sales are different than new car sales in that he has fewer total clients but more repeat business from the same clients. Rather than sit in the showroom from open to close, he makes contact with these customers several times per year, often by visiting in person. A good candidate for commercial truck sales would be someone with a strong business acumen and a personality that can relate to both the janitor and the CEO.
Because the commercial truck salesperson must be willing to “hunt” for customers, there is a great deal of prospecting involved. Much of his business comes from referrals or by getting to know people in a certain vocation that uses trucks and then working their competitors. Joe explains that it never hurts to “drop names,” and say that you sold a truck to someone else in the customer’s line of business.
As part of the “hunt,” Joe recommends a 30 second “drop by,” call. The concept is that you walk into the prospects business, introduce yourself, leave your card and get theirs. Unless they want to talk, you are to be in and out in 30 seconds. This allows you to build a database of prospects for you to work with. Over time, diligence pays off and business takes a life of it’s own. He considers this method as part of the big picture. You won’t sell them anything right away, but two years down the road when they are buying their third or fourth truck, you will be very pleased with your patience.
When it comes to patience, Joe advises someone new to commercial truck sales to effectively manage their expectations. Forget about making any sales at all for the first 90-120 days. He stresses that you should avoid thinking about getting a truck over the curb for the first three to six months. He comes back to patience and relationship building because commercial truck sales are a long game.
Joe’s approach to relationship building is simple. Listen twice as much as you speak. You should try to know a bit about their industry and ask good questions. Show them that you know your product. Let their answers guide you to understand their equipment needs in order to make recommendations. Become someone they can trust because they should be experts in their business, and you should be an expert in the trucks they use for their business.
By the time you get to the end of your client interview, the customer should have opened up and told you everything you need to know to sell them a truck, not based on price but based on how you’ve identified exactly what they need. The client will think, “I called the right guy!”
Another piece of advice Joe offers for someone new to commercial truck sales is to use your CRM to keep track of where your referrals came from. It never hurts to know someone in common.
Since commercial trucks are rarely part of the advertising and marketing plan for the dealership, you should be able to form a clear marketing plan and be able to request dollars from ownership to spend on marketing or advertising. Joe shares some examples that are cost and time effective, and don’t require extra personnel.
Extra sales and support personnel may be necessary as your business grows. Joe found that he had some extremely busy months with huge sales, but when a new month began, he hadn’t filled his pipeline with fresh prospects. That resulted in subsequent months that were paltry by comparison.
In order to deliver trucks and keep bringing in new business, Joe chose to work as a team with a trusted partner who has learned the business over time and has become a reliable prospector while Joe delivers trucks. This also works in reverse. Someone to deliver trucks while he’s out prospecting. This team based structure has allowed Joe and his partner to grow the business 30% in a relatively short time.
Joe’s final thoughts on successful commercial sales entail building a relationship with his service team that allows him to utilize their expertise in order to sell more vehicles. For example, the service manager might note that the owner of a truck in need of an expensive repair might be a good candidate for a new truck. He would tell Joe to call that owner to see if they were open to considering a replacement. He also suggests recommending your service department wherever possible. There aren’t that many commercial truck service departments to choose from, so if you can send them referrals, they will do the same in turn.
IN THIS EPISODE YOU’LL LEARN:
- How commercial truck sales differs from new and used car showroom sales.
- Ideas for prospecting new clients.
- Relationship building and a great deal of patience are key to winning the long game.
- Why working as a team helps keep the funnel of business full.
- Using your service department a source for referrals.
Connect with Joe via email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Article from Digital Dealer
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