Managing the Financial Side of Commercial Fleets

How to Get Maximum Value from Salespeople

November 2008, by Staff

PHOTO CREDIT: ISTOCKPHOTO.COM/JACOB WACKERHAUSEN

Fleet managers, it seems, are bombarded by sales contacts, whether by e-mail, regular mail, or telephone. The bigger the fleet, the more attention it attracts, attention that can sometimes be downright annoying. However, refusing to see a salesperson can have lasting consequences, and smart fleet managers know how to wring value out of sales contacts.

What Do Salespeople Do?

Understanding what salespeople do each week is a good start in knowing how to derive value from their efforts. In the fleet industry, sales efforts are generally confined to a combination of geography and market. Companies often define markets by fleet size and geographic territory and assign sales personnel accordingly:

■ Mid-market – fleets of fewer than 500 vehicles.

■ Large market – fleets of more than 500 vehicles.

While definitions vary, the smaller the fleet, the less a full-time fleet manager is on staff, and selling efforts and techniques vary depending upon who the effort targets.

Geography is the other broad category defining sales efforts. It can involve a single salesperson covering a large area, the Northeast or Mid-Atlantic for example, or a larger sales staff whose territories encompass only a state or two.

Good salespeople become involved in the industry via fleet organizations, such as NAFA, creating goodwill and familiarity with the market. Fleet managers generally know personally, or at least are familiar with, nearly every salesperson who contacts them.

Sales involves three basic steps:

■ Initial contact. A follow-up to a casual meeting at an industry function or a "cold call."

■ The sales process.From initial research or fact-finding to presentation and closing.

■ Follow-up. Decision-making takes time and salespeople make regular efforts to finalize the process.

Selling often involves extensive travel, since there is no substitute for face-to-face contact. Salespeople are usually required to submit activity reports, describing whom they’ve seen, potential business, and status of the sales process.

 

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