A Special Announcement from the NTDA

A Special Announcement from the NTDA

The National Trailer Dealer Association (NTDA) offers resources to their members across North America. Established in 1990, NTDA has strengthened the voice of independent semi-trailer dealers within the trailer industry. This week, they have shared a special announcement on their website:

NTDA Announces Partnership with Learning Without Scars to Provide Online Parts, Service, Sales Training

The National Trailer Dealers Association (NTDA) Board of Directors voted at its April 11, 2022 meeting to partner with Learning Without Scars (LWS) to provide online parts, service, sales and marketing training for members. LWS is accredited by the International Accreditors for Continuing Education and Training.


The NTDA will work with LWS  to  develop  trailer-specific  content for members in the future. The site, learningwithoutscars.org, provides comprehensive online learning programs for dealer employees starting with individualized skills assessments. The assessments allow the Learning Without Scars staff to create a personalized employee development program.

Based on assessed skills, the employee is  asked  to  select  from  classes designed for their  skill  level,  allowing  them  to  address  gaps in their knowledge level. This allows  employees  to  move  through  four progressive categories of learning: Developing, Beginning, Intermediate, and Advanced.

Classes are designed to offer both employees and employers something that matters: continuous improvement to the benefit of each. Too often, we hear employees talk about wanting to have a career path, but not being sure where they fit in their profession. Learning on-demand classes build and develop the professional skills an individual needs to continue to grow and make progress with your company and your industry.

Managers/supervisors have access to employee skills assessments and employee training scores. There are 108 online classes available in 12 languages. Online assessments and courses are available for $125 per each.


Courses can be taken on a PC, a Mac, a tablet, or a smartphone. A student requires an Internet connection to access all course materials. Supplemental reading for each class is available as a .pdf, so a .pdf reader such as Acrobat is recommended any device on which students are taking courses. Students will need access to speakers for video clips and audio tracks (these are optional).

Classes are categorized by department,  job  function,  and  skill  level to ensure employees are able to target the right skills. Learning on- demand programs cover Parts, Service, as well as Selling and Marketing of Product Support.

NTDA Members can sign up for LWS’ free e-newsletter at https:// learningwithoutscars.org/signup, or take advantage of free blogs, podcasts, and audio learning opportunities.

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The Digital Dealership: Comparing Equipment Presentation

The Digital Dealership: Comparing Equipment Presentation

Tonight, guest blogger Mets Kramer continues to educate us on all the digital aspects of our business with The Digital Dealership: Comparing Equipment Presentation.

One of the Statements I have made repeatedly in this series is: “The average buyer does 85% of their research digitally prior to contacting the dealer” (Thanks @Charles Bowles). What does this mean for dealers?   In the most practical way, it means “Call for details” is dead. Providing information is critical.

In this blog, I would like to get each of you to do some research. Considering my statement above, which of the following websites or products would you feel ready to buy (assuming you needed it) based on the digital presentation of the product.

To get started I would like to look at the used passenger vehicle market.  This is one market we all have experience in, and one that has seen a radical change over the last 10 years.  It has also been a strong industry, leading the Equipment industry by 10 to 20 years, showing where digital technology is going in the future.

First let’s look at Carvana and CarMax, leaders in digital sales, presenting the vehicles they have for sale.



Then Compare the Experience Here at a Toyota Dealer, which does a decent job, but is behind.


Notice how Carvana and CarMax are highlighting issues to avoid surprises, providing delivery and a 7-day guarantee to handle risk and objections.

Which of these listings made you feel like you know enough about the vehicle?  It is a big step to buy your first vehicle without seeing it, for sure, but would seeing it in person really tell you more?  If you could not see it in person, which would you choose?

Now let us look at Equipment, the topic we all focus on daily.

Compare the following sites

  1. DeWitt Equipment Hitachi ZX-160LC-3, presented with images, 2 videos, details, and a PDF specifications document from Hitachi.


  1. Holt CAT 289D, presented with an inspection report and report from Electronic Technician, specifications, and images


  1. Marcel Equipment CAT D6N – presented with images, detailed description and full repair and condition info.


  1. 4Rivers CAT 320E, presented with 4 pictures and a short description


After Reviewing these different sites, which machines do you feel you “know” best?  Which one would you buy without seeing it in person?  More importantly, which machine would you be ready to contact the dealer about if you only contact dealers when you’re close to purchasing?

When presenting your equipment on your website you have the greatest opportunity to present the machine fully, since you control your site.  Your goal should be to present enough information to stop visitors from hunting around for more information.   You need to get them to stop scrolling or clicking, call, contact, email, etc. The best way to do this is to answer all their questions.

How would you change your website, to present your equipment better, with this in mind?

If you would like to review your website and look at how easily you can present your equipment with more detail, simply contact me at:

mets.kramer@strategicevolutions.ca  or (289) 680-6387

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Principia for After-Sales, Part Four

Principia for After-sales, Part Four

Today, Ryszard Chciuk continues his blogs on Principia for after-sales with part four of the series.

In Principia for After-sales part 3, I presented the main values of my after-sales team. Today, let’s discuss some examples from the real life of any organization. How would we practice my team’s main values?

Example 1

Your very experienced employee is suffering from cancer. It causes his absence from time to time. This negatively affects some customers’ satisfaction and may influence the company’s profitability. Would you get rid of – dismiss lawfully – that employee? What is your answer? In my opinion, despite the negative impact on profitability, the principle No 2 is more important than No 3. Not convinced? Think about it from a wider perspective. Are you sure all your customers and employees will accept your lack of empathy without any cost for you? What about your profitability if they recognize your behavior as inhuman? Will you be seen as a man of integrity?

Example 2

Your service vans are not equipped with the tools needed to drain used oil into special tanks instead of polluting the ground. Will you accept the spoiling of millions of liters of underground water by your field technicians? Of course, the cost of necessary tools will decrease your profitability. Is your answer: the principle No 2 is more important than No 3?

Example 3

Your key customer demands the immediate arrival of your field technician to the faulty machine. The customer will be very unsatisfied if he does not see your van within an hour. Will you force your employee to drive his van as it was the formula 1 vehicle? I understand your intentions, but man, the excellent service supervisor does not promise to fix the faulty machine in an hour. Otherwise, you will break principles No 4, 3, 2, and 1 due to: consequences and the cost of a potential accident, and the cost of not keeping commitments. You have to explain kindly to the impatient customer that he will be supported several hours later than he was overpromised in just signed service agreement. You are a man of integrity, so you will explain to your customer why you do what you do. By the way: which principle was broken by the signing of the service agreement containing a not feasible promise?

Example 4

Almost every second backhoe loader within the warranty period needs at least one warranty job due to the leaking main control valve. The manufacturer accepts customer claims but only as long as the warranty is valid. Later on, the cost of new seals, travel, and labor has to be covered by customers. It boosts your profit, but you realize that one drop of oil spoils millions of liters of clean water. Will you follow your value No 3 “Profitability”? And what about “Care of people and environment” (value No 2)? Will you be recognized as the man of integrity (it is your value No 1)? Obviously, the manufacturer is breaking his promise regarding quality and environmental care. What would you do then?


Some situations in the real life are more difficult to be analyzed from the main values point of view. Fortunately, the real-life circumstances are usually not so demanding as the examples given in the description of the trolley problem. Are you prepared for this kind of challenge at your work? Will your values be helpful?

Nobody is perfect. We have faced breaking our main principles by managers and employees. But when everybody is aware of the common main principles, he knows when, and what he is doing wrong.  I believe the most merciless judge is our conscience.

Are you ready to discuss your values on the examples taken from the real life of your organization? Let’s do it together. And, how would you use them in the situations described in my four examples?

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Principia for After-sales, Part Two

Principia for After-sales, Part Two

Today, Ryszard Chciuk continues his blogs on Principia for after-sales with part two of the series.

In Principia for After-sales and a few next posts, I am sharing my way of defining and implementing the main principles (values). This post is about the potential conflict between personal and company values, how I was writing value definitions, and the importance of constant reminding and following of the main principles.

Theoretically, every new employee joining our team brings his/her own values and his/her own life mission. Unfortunately, many people are not aware of what kind of values they are subscribed to. Thus, both they and their employer can make a mistake when signing the employment contract. But from the other side human consciousness is flexible. Hopefully, he/she will soon realize the values of the company are not in opposition to their private values or they are enough convincing to subscribe to them. And their private life missions can be realized ­– to a certain level – by working for the chosen company.

I numbered the main principles because usually, they conflict with one another. For example, which value is more important: profitability of your department or care of people and environment (it covers also safety)? What gets higher priority: integrity or profitability? If you don’t know, the right answer is indicated by the number of the principle on the list (number 1 has the highest priority).

Some time ago I learned from Start with Why by Simon Sinek that values have to be verbs. He is definitely right. I should articulate my No 1 principal “Integrity” with the sentence “Always do the right thing”. The No 2 principle should be expressed with the words “Always take care of your co-worker, customer, supplier, investor and of all kind of life”. The No 3 “Profitability” means “Not everything we do has to be profitable, but without money, we will not exist as the organization”. The No 4 “Excellence” stands for “We are satisfied with nothing less than the very best in everything we do” (I use the same definition as in Enron’s statement).

On each occasion, I was explaining to my people what our main principles meant and I was using examples taken from the life of our after-sales organization. As I mentioned already in the post Future is Now – Part 2, that kind of presentation was usually taking place in the course of the introductory training. It was led not later than several weeks after starting the job. We worked out that unique training program with the kind collaboration of Impact Polka. It comprised of two sessions (two working days each). And it was mandatory for every new employee. As the opening lecturer, I presented there our department’s long-term goals (vision), the main principles (values), and our mission. Later on, the after-sales team members had to hear it again, and again. Additionally, once a year, during the annual company meeting I presented it to all employees of the dealership.

The leader must prove all the time, everything he is doing himself is up to the common, agreed, and persistently promoted principles. Employees mostly follow their leaders. Employees never follow the company values if the superiors break principles, both in a company or private life. You do not need to decorate your company cars with the team values, print it on every page of marketing brochures or curve in the stone tablets. Your customers are to recognize what are your values at every encounter with your crew. Have you ever asked your key customers what are your company values? You can be surprised when you do!

The main principles are not to be changed neither every year nor when a new manager takes over. They will be followed even if the founder of the values list has gone away. But it will happen only in companies having a very strong organizational culture. To be honest, I have not checked if the after-sales team I was in charge of in the past is still following our main principles. This is for a few reasons best known to me, not the main one is that I am not brave enough to find out.

There are plenty of potential values to be chosen. You will find five hundred examples here. As you can see these are only names of values, just words. The meaning of every value you have to define yourself. Why it is very important? I mentioned already that the set of values would make you different from the competition. Yes, they can steal a copy of your main principle’s declaration. But don’t worry, you are recognized as a better supplier of services because you have taught your people what those words really meant at their daily work. And they are following it. And your customers like it.

The main principles list should not be longer than 3-4 items. Too many values are more difficult to memorize and certainly will not be obeyed. Perhaps this is the main problem with the fulfillment of the Ten Commandments.

I have to underline: the content of the values list is not essential. After all, nobody would present himself as inhuman, unfaithful, dishonest, improvident, etc., isn’t it? The only difference between two organizations having the same set of values is how their members follow those principles.

Next time I am going to present the details about the main principles of my after-sales team.

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Role-Playing is Essential for Sales Professionals

Role-playing is essential for Sales Professionals

This week, guest blogger Don Buttrey of Sales Professional Training offers us wisdom when it comes to our sales professionals: role-playing is essential! It is easy to overlook the benefits of role-playing in the professional environment, but these benefits cannot be overstated. If you are interested in what you see here today, you can reach out to Don here.

Professional athletes, accomplished musicians, battle-ready soldiers, doctors, pilots, and all professionals know that practice is essential. Pilots practice in simulators. Then after two months of ground training, they need to log more than 1,500 hours of flight experience. Quarterbacks run their patterns over and over.

You play as you practice. And in sales, it is no different.

Jerry Rice had a career as one of the greatest receivers in NFL history. Yet it was much more than just talent or good hands that made that a reality. Jerry had one of the most rigorous workout schedules in the NFL. Plus, we know that professional athletes watch a lot of films! They play back game film to critique strategy and execution. They must constantly improve to compete and win.

You play as you practice. If you want to make the big plays when it counts – your practice regimen is imperative.

So how can a sales professional get that essential practice? Granted, we can’t strap a GoPro cam to our head before meeting with a customer and then watch and critique it afterward. So, the only way to expose dangerous habits or feeble techniques is the method of role-playing. Role-plays are not real-life (and in the back of your head you know the other person is acting or improvising) but stuff will happen. You will see weaknesses or tendencies that you need to address and work on. Larry Bird, NBA superstar observed, “Coaches can talk and talk and talk about something, but if you get it on tape and show it to them, it is so much more effective.”

When you say “role-play”, most new hires start shaking in their boots. Some privately puke. But hey – they are new and probably expect intensive training or proving grounds. Some veterans (who are performing OK) might be threatened or fearful that they will be misjudged or condemned based on someone’s skewed opinions or branded sales techniques that may not apply to their customers or selling situations. A few successful veterans say, “bring it on – watch the master at work!” – only to bomb horribly. All this dread, fear, and mistrust is real. But it is not an excuse to just send your team out on the field every day and hope they are performing as sales professionals. Leaders need to know!

The answer to this need begins by adopting a proven sales curriculum, a standard pre-call planning process, and empowered servant leaders who coach and develop each sales professional with respect and consistency. Then, plan regular reinforcement, skill development and practice . . . on purpose. Put it on the calendar!

As a sales trainer over the last 25 years, I provided a starting point by conducting a sales training camp. I have always required a role-play exercise at the end of my training camps. Once the sales disciplines and the pre-call planning process were delivered in the seminar, a video-recorded and professionally critiqued role-play became the highest impact portion of the learning! The logistics required us to have lots of breakout rooms and equipment for the role-plays, but it was worth the effort. What was accomplished by the manager and I in each breakout room, one-on-one with each salesperson, far surpassed the impact of just lecture or teaching.

The training camp was meant to be the initiation into a regular culture of practice. The hope was that this first experience would remove the stigma and the invisible barrier to coaching. Role-playing should be part of a regimen of regular, ongoing practice! However, after a powerful training event ended, and everyone went back to busy schedules, it usually did not continue.

Today, Sales Professional Training has designed a new approach to training and practice that assures ongoing, sustainable sales team development. How? Well now, instead of a one-time seminar event, our complete sales training curriculum is delivered via web-based E-learning. It is on-demand and is digested and applied in short weekly increments that are processed with the sales manager and the team after each segment. Access to the course for review and reinforcement never expires. Clearly, this is much better than a one-time seminar where the salesperson feels like they are taking a drink out of a fire hydrant!

And here is the best part! The pandemic forced us to see past our paradigms and leverage the amazing technology at our fingertips. I now provide training and coaching for my clients that far surpasses what we could do in a seminar setting. Now, following completion of the E-learning version of The Four Pillars of the Sales Profession, we can role-play ‘virtually’ from different locations or branches. Zoom, Teams, and other virtual formats make it doable. No time, travel, or breakout room limitations!

No excuses.

Sales Professional Training is now offering role-play services! It is easy to implement and schedule virtually. I have been doing this service for other companies –and it is very high impact. They get more personal coaching from me and their manager in that hour than we could ever dream of doing in the logistics of a ‘live’ meeting!

Contact me and we will get role-play practice on your calendar!

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Principia for After-sales

Principia for After-sales

In this week’s guest post, blogger Ryszard Chciuk offers us his Principia for after-sales, and brings us more ways to improve this valuable part of our business.

In Principia for Business I presented my personal view on the foundations of every organization. It was not a summary of the pile of publications on that subject I have read. In fact, I did not find there too many useful tips on how to build a durable and efficient organization.

In this and a few next posts, I am going to describe my own way of defining and implementing the idea of the main principles (values).

One of the main tasks of the founder of a new organization is to define the set of the most important principles binding its members. They should also know the long-term goals (have a look at the post about our vision). After that, they are able to find the proper ways to get closer to the goals. You will help your people in that process by telling them HOW you want to run your business to be different from the competition.

Another two important questions are: WHY you are starting up (Ron Slee explained his WHY in Why do we do what we do) and WHAT you are going to do for the wellbeing of your customers, employees, suppliers, environment, and yourself. Without a clear and public answer for those three questions a new entity is mined and the time bomb is ticking. It is my belief this is the main cause of going bankrupt by so many companies.

When I began to build the best after-sales organization in my country, Simon Sinek was not ready with his great TEDx presentation How Great Leaders Inspire Actions (54 million views since 2009). Just common sense told me that I should establish the main principles for my new team (apart from the long-term goals and mission). Some consultants say it should be done by a group of people. I dare to doubt. Only slaves must obey the rules established by their owners but free people always have a choice to work or not, for a given company. Its founder is entitled to set the main values. However, it is a must to discuss the meaning of values with all employees when somebody breaks any of the main principles. It is also helpful to celebrate when an employee finds a new way of better fulfilling any value.

The main values are important for employees when they have to take immediate action without the support of their superior. Very often they are not even aware that a required ­– in a given situation – behavior is described in detail in one of the dozens of special procedures. The older the organization, the more not understandable procedures, often written in a lawyers’ language.

Big companies define their values on a corporate level. In our case, they were: Quality, Safety, and Environmental Care. They seemed to me too general for the after-sales team I had the honor to create around twenty years ago. I defined the main principles as follows:

  1. Integrity
  2. Care of people and environment
  3. Profitability
  4. Excellence

It is not very common that the after-sales department has its own main principles (values) and purpose (mission) but I believed what I was doing was right. A few years later I found confirmation in Built to Last. Successful Habits of Visionary Companies by James C. Collins and Jerry I. Porras: There’s absolutely no reason why you can’t articulate a core ideology for your own workgroup, department, or division. If your company has a strong overall corporate ideology, then your group-level ideology will naturally be constrained by that ideology – particularly the core values. But you can still have your own flavor of ideology, and certainly, you can articulate a purpose for your own sub-organization. What is its reason for being? What would be lost if it ceased to exist? The concept of the core ideology embraces both mission and values.

It can happen the top management of the dealership does not know how they are going to run their business and does not bother about any values. Then CFO, Sales Director, and After-sales Manager lead their teams in accordance with completely different, opposite values. For example, CFO cares mainly about profit, Sales want to increase the number of sold machines, and After-sales are focused on customer satisfaction. The most dangerous is when they do not know each other preferences. Daily conflicts between managers are stepping down to the lowest level of the hierarchy. Employees do not collaborate with their friends working for another department. It is possible to avoid that problem. The managers have to look each other in the eye and tell each other the meaning of their main principles. Of course, their values have to be aligned with those the company founder believed in. Otherwise, it is a great waste of time to work for that kind of organization.

Next time I am going to share my point of view on the potential conflict between private and company values, how to write value definitions, the importance of constant reminding of the main principles…

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Transformation: Becoming a Selling Organization 2

Transformation: Becoming a Selling Organization – Part 2

Tonight, Don Buttrey brings us Part 2 of his two-part series on Transformation: Becoming a Selling Organization.

2) Sell ‘the house’

We don’t just sell product anymore.  Product and brand will not sell itself. We have to ‘sell the house’.  That is one thing the competition does not have-your differentiator!

Why should customers choose you and do business with you?  Every person in your organization should know that answer.  This awareness should season everything you do and be on the tip of every tongue. If you do not know that answer…who does?

When you consider the question “what do we sell?” you can help define that answer by documenting Company Factors and Value-Added Services of your company.  Company Factors are advantages, minute distinctions and attractive characteristics that you offer.  Don’t get hung up on the word, unique.  Some competitors may claim the same or similar factors.  Company factors are simply what you look like as a company.  How many branches you have, expertise in certain markets, years in business, key people, inventory, size, location, stability, certified mechanics, customer base, and lines represented are all examples of company factors.  Value-Added Services are what you do for your customers before, during and after the sale.  These services support your offerings and enhance the perceived value.  Examples might be inventory management, part usage reports, financing services, safety training seminars, etc.  I suggest you workshop these two lists as a team and publish the results internally.  Make sure everyone knows and believes in ‘who you are’ and ‘what you do’.  You may even want to prioritize this list and document the top things that clearly set you apart from the rest of the pack of competitors.

3) Standardize your selling process

So how do we take this corporate, ‘selling mindset’ to the street?  This has to be more than a “value” campaign or hype.  We must make sure that all contacts and experiences that our customers have with us result in a perceived value for which they are willing to pay a premium price.  This will not happen by accident.  Banners, literature and websites will only create visual consistency in your marketing and image.  Each and every person, in every customer interaction, must sell that value and communicate it effectively.

The best way to facilitate this is with a standardized selling process.  This is a framework to help each person who interacts with the customer to prepare and execute effective selling of your value.  We recommend a standard tool that we call the SELL process.  The dynamic interaction with a customer is not step-by-step.  However, having a structure for how to prepare and execute the interaction is powerful.



The SELL Process:  Start        Evaluate        Leverage         Lock

Outside sales professionals can use this outline to pre-call plan for each call – SELL offense!  Sales support can use this same outline to react better in spontaneous selling situations and opportunities that occur everyday.  The same SELL process can also be used a framework to prepare for objections and respond to them properly – SELL defense!

When we train sales professionals and sales support, we use this simple, yet profound process to prepare, practice and perfect selling skill.  Each step is studied, understood and practiced.  For example, every person who deals with complaints or objections from customers can benefit from intense learning on how to answer objections.  The team can even document proven answers and practice delivery and methodology of responding.  By standardizing the tool and terminology used for selling your value everyday, you can fulfill the first challenge we discussed—teach everyone to sell.


Becoming a selling organization is not really complicated.  It is decisive, however.  The pieces are all there; your people, your products, your operations.  It is really a matter if reconnecting those pieces to transform into a selling machine.  Teach everyone to sell.  Sell the house.  Standardize your selling process.  Remember the line of children’s toys called Transformers?  A robot, with its existing parts could, by a few decisive moves, become a racecar or some other machine.  Make the three decisive moves we just discussed and turn from just a dealer into a SELLING MACHINE!

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Transformation: Becoming a Selling Organization 1

Transformation: Becoming a Selling Organization – Part 1

Don Buttrey introduces us to the transformation involved in becoming a selling organization in Part 1 of his blog on this topic.


“Nothing happens until somebody sells something.”  With that simple statement, Red Motley made clear the importance of the sales function to any organization.  As a distributor in the supply channel, the importance is even more acute.  Selling is your lifeblood.  The selling function is a significant part of your activities.  Oh yes, operations, service and technical support are essential, but today’s Construction Equipment Distributor or manufacturer must be a “selling machine” where everyone who serves the customer directly or indirectly delivers and communicates (sells) value.  When this thinking permeates your culture, it assures growth and profitability.  What I have just described is a true “selling organization.”


Leaders; transforming into a team where everyone sells and has a selling mindset will not happen by accident.  You must do it on purpose.  If you tell people to do the right things and your system tells them otherwise…the system will win every time.  This article will highlight three things you can start immediately to indoctrinate this culture into your system:  1) Teach everyone to sell; 2) Sell the house; 3) Standardize your selling process.


1) Teach everyone to sell


This part of the transformation starts at the top, as you might have expected.  First and foremost, the dealer principle and top management must be selling experts.  Not that they are out on the field closing deals (although they may have key involvement in some accounts.)  Yet they must possess sharpened selling skills in order to sell ideas, expectations, tools, systems etc. to the entire team.  Sell, not tell!  They must also have a clear understanding of value and benefit selling in order to present, market and perpetuate the required factors that differentiate you from the rest of the competition.  Only leaders that understand the strategic and tactical requirements of successful selling can direct, inspire, coach and motivate a true selling organization.  Visible, enthusiastic support of any selling skills training is a must.


Sales managers must also sell.  They must become brilliant in their contribution to joint calls–not to “take over” but to be a model of professional selling skill.  As a coach they reinforce the disciplines of professional selling and raise the bar of expectations.  It is strongly suggested that sales managers participate in any selling skills training.  The purpose of this is not to just monitor and observe, but to be an active part as each salesperson practices and refines their execution.


Of course, front-line salespeople must be masters of selling.  Selling is their profession.  Each one should strive to become a Sales Professional!  Product knowledge, application expertise, people skills, benefit selling, communication skill, strategic account planning, and pre-call planning are just a few of the many skills and tools they must execute skillfully to get consistent results.  Intensive selling skill training for these professionals is a given.  These are the “highly trained field agents” of a successful selling organization that take proactive action and start the engine.


And please don’t forget that service technicians, customer service, installation, and all sales support must also be trained in selling skills.  Granted, selling is not their primary job duty.  Yet they are interacting daily with customers and dealing with the tough issues. They encounter an astounding number of opportunities to reinforce value, secure jeopardized business, penetrate and expand accounts, discover hidden opportunities, pass leads, add-on sell and build relationships.  Great selling organizations provide these key players with more than just technical know-how or specific job skills.  They leverage their integral involvement with customers by adding core selling skills to their regimen of training.  With proper sales training they can learn to sell spontaneously and appropriately.

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Pre-Call Planning Is an Absolute Must!

Pre-call Planning is an Absolute Must!

Pre-Call Planning is an Absolute Must

Don Buttrey is the president of Sales Professional Training Inc., a company that offers in-depth skill development for sales professionals and sales support. He has trained thousands of salespeople over 25 years and clearly understands the selling environment of equipment dealers. His curriculum is comprehensive and proven. All courses are now available as web-based Elearning. E-learning is ideal for training individuals and smaller sales teams! Don can be reached at (937) 427-1717or email donbuttrey@salesprofessionaltraining.com. Check out this website link salesprofessionaltraining.com  for more information – or to purchase online sales training. This week he is sharing all of the reasons why pre-call planning is an absolute must for our salespeople.

What preparation should I expect my salespeople to do before picking up the phone or meeting with a customer?

Most of the time salespeople do the ‘typical’ prep such as considering the situation, doing some research, or reviewing notes on the customer such as past sales, problems, internal politics, personal facts, previous calls etc. That is important – but it is not enough. Often, at that point they just charge in or pick up the phone and “see how it goes”. I call this, “showing up and throwing up”. There is another part of pre-call planning that is an absolute must!

One of the most important disciplines and skills I teach is, tactical pre-call planning. This involves consideration of the customer contact person, situation, competitors, etc. and then designing and perfecting the expected interaction. I love that word – “interaction”. The last part of that word is action. And if you want to get action – you must be a master of the interaction! When salespeople make proactive calls, they are on the “offense” and they should prepare their offense!

First, what is the objective for the call? If a salesperson does not know why they are there – the customer doesn’t know why they are there! Sales Professionals must have a purpose or defined reason for every call. If our veterans get in the habit of calling on buddies and just stopping in to say; “got anything for me” or “I just happened to be in the area and thought I would stop by” you will end up with a team of professional visitors. We need professional salespeople!

What will salespeople say to start? What questions will they ask and how will they word them for maximum effectiveness? What benefits of product or distributor value will they leverage? What is their action-oriented objective and how will they ask for commitment or action?

The SELL Process Tool

For the last two decades my mission has been to help salespeople pre-call plan using the SELL Process tool. SELL stands for Start, Evaluate, Leverage, Lock: and each of these steps should be prepared in order to maximize every precious customer interaction. My training curriculum teaches this powerful process in great detail and provides a simple, but profound tool as a framework for effective pre-call tactical planning. It’s like learning a proven offense, that with time, empowers sales professionals to execute each uniquely different call brilliantly! Preparation and ongoing practice are essential. You play like you practice—and salespeople just don’t practice enough. I am a firm believer that we should even be doing dry runs and scrimmages before critical calls!

Using the SELL Process framework, my training teaches sales professionals to write out their tactical plan. Yes, write it. Writing makes the message exact. If you don’t write it, you can’t fix it. Tooling out what you will say to Start will keep you from getting “diarrhea of the mouth” and overwhelming the customer with jabber. Writing out the questions you need to ask and perfecting the wording of those open-ended questions helps you be a consultant and increases the chance that you will find out the real needs and situation –and listen! Plus, writing provides some notes for you to follow and indicates to the customer that you cared enough to get ready for this important investment of their time. Writing helps you remember, helps you prioritize, and keeps the meeting on track and in control. Your confidence and improved non-verbals will show!

And this is not just for big calls. It is an essential daily discipline to prepare appropriately for every precious customer interaction prior to making a call. When a sales professional is prepared, it shows respect to the customer. It presents a professional, consultative image. Buyers are sick of cocky salespeople who wing-it and don’t even listen. Plus, the deal at hand may come down to this do-or-die call – and if the salesperson is not prepared, the opportunity is lost. Careful preparation assures that the message is focused on the customer and not the salesperson. It keeps the call focused, concise, and clear without veering off on useless rabbit trails!

I accept the reality that selling is very dynamic and that anything could happen in each unique call. Pre-call tactical planning with the SELL Process is not a silver bullet. However, it empowers sales professionals with skill and brilliant execution of their offense and defense to maximize every opportunity. The market for a small, independent construction equipment dealer is extremely competitive. Every call counts. The days of winging it are over. Pre-call tactical planning is a must!

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Are Bricks and Mortar Going to Survive the Internet Era?

Are Bricks and Mortar going to Survive the Internet Era?


During the past fifty years, most of my work life in this Industry, one of the most significant

‘barriers to entry” in the equipment industry, and in fact, capital goods industries has been the ownership and control of proprietary information. For instance, where to buy a part. A specific part, a bearing, for example, was purchased from an authorized dealer typically because the consumer did not know of any other source. Repairs and Maintenance were the exclusive domain of the authorized dealer for a similar reason. There was no availability for the independent mechanic to service manuals and technical literature. There clearly has been a radical change here hasn’t there? Just ask Google or another search engine whatever you want and they will typically have an answer. Even Alexa or Siri or Bixby will give you an answer on your cellular telephone.

Let’s start with some facts. In the US the standard in the retail sales Industry used to be 10 square feet of store space for every person in the country. In 1998, after a substantial increase in the square foot assigned to retail sales, the retail sales per square foot had dropped from $200.00/ft2 to $150.00/ft2. In 1999 the International Journal of Retail and Distribution Management reported that consumers’ shopping time was down 31% and monthly mall visits were down 47% with stores visited per mall visit down 57%. Clearly something was going on here.

While this was going on Amazon came onto the scene. They started business on July 5, 1994. From that launch date the impact that Amazon has had on retail sales has been nothing short of amazing. In 2019 Amazon had a market share of e-commerce in the USA of 52.4%, Non-US was 5.7% for a worldwide market share of 13.7%. In that same year, 2019, e-retail sales accounted for 14.1 percent of all retail sales worldwide. This figure is expected to reach 22 percent in 2023.

I first used the internet in 1973 through a Service Bureau in Canada via a business called I.P. Sharp Associates. Ian had direct real time access, on line, to all financial data worldwide through the stock markets. He also provided international associations, such as the World Bank, direct access to financial information. He later sold his business to Reuters who kept the news piece and sold the financial piece to what is now provided by Bloomberg. At that time there was no AOL. The general public was not on line yet. That is only forty-five years ago.

Today many business systems offer online “portals” for the public to search through for a part or information on a repair or maintenance for equipment. Today there are a multitude of businesses from whom you can purchase just about any part you need from an alternate source to the authorized dealer. In automotive Genuine parts through their NAPA stores is a direct competitor to the authorized car dealers. In many cases, as Forbes once called it “at a price that will make you weep.” In maintenance and repairs we have seen Mr. Muffler and Midas Muffler forcing the dealers into providing their off brand technical services like Mr. Goodwrench. In the construction equipment world in North America surveys are conducted nearly every five years and that data tells us that maintenance has been completely moved away from the authorized dealers. In fact, labor market share, depending on market area ranges from 8% to 15% of the total labor available. Of course, there are outliers in both directions. The parts market share is not more than 40% any more when in the late seventies it was in the range of 80%.

In 1980 one of the first internet-based buying options was brought out to the market. That parts ordering portal never achieved a portion of the dealer parts business in excess of 10%. Notice the difference between the Amazon model and our model. Amazon started with books and sold their books at a lower price than the local book stores. Even Borders, a major book store retailer was a victim of Amazon. They are no longer in business. What did Amazon do that the authorized equipment parts suppliers didn’t do. They lowered the prices. Their logic was when the customer is the coproducer of the work, they deserve to get a better deal. No one has as yet tried that approach as an authorized dealer. The aftermarket suppliers have already lower prices at their disposal.

So, there is the dilemma. I hope you can see it coming. It is that light in the tunnel of the train roaring down the track. Are you going to sit back and let the internet-based businesses penetrate even more into your parts and labor business or are you going to do something about it?

The Time is Now. If not now, when?

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