|November 2003||Volume 29 - Number 4|
About the Author:
Bob is available for consulting services, seminars, and writing assignments. You can reach him at 978-461-2143 or via e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org).
New facilities, new ideas, new products and new ways of doing business are cropping up every day. Manufacturers are delivering some of the most exciting RVs in years, packed with creature comforts and marvels of technology that were dreams and ideas just a few short years ago.
Maybe its time to take another look at the sales team that you are presenting to this new audience of prospects and customers who are intrigued with the publicity surrounding the lifestyle. As you change the way you do business, it may be necessary to change the people you expect to drive the business.
Making significant investments to change will also bring new challenges to the sales team. They are not often quick to change. They can get very comfortable in a setting void of change or challenge. When this environment is challenged, many will not be able to change.
Is it time to hang out the help wanted sign? Is it time to change the way you sell RVs? Is it time to change the way you present your product and company to a more professional and demanding consumer? It probably is, even if you are not willing to admit it just yet.
You can not make the changes we see dealers and manufacturers making, without acknowledging that the reason you are making them is to grow and expand your business. If you could not accomplish this with an existing facility and personnel, then you might not be able to accomplish it by simply building a new building.
You have to change, and people may be part of that process.
A professional sales environment requires professional sales people. Consultative selling techniques are different and more challenging than the old-fashioned peddler techniques that may have worked in the past. The very reasons that dealers decide to change their business, are the same reasons that may force them to change they way they sell its almost inevitable.
Its not something to be taken lightly. The sales rep, who is content to sell five units a month, may not have the skills, desire, or experience required to sell ten units a month. If they are working in an environment that does not allow them to grow beyond the five units, then you may not think there is anything wrong.
With new facilities and expansion come increased expenses and an increased cost of doing business. You must factor in the ability to meet the sales numbers that will be required to support your new endeavors. If you move the existing sales team into a new environment, will they be able to grow and meet your expectations for satisfying the needs of new prospects and customers and be able to deliver?
Perhaps its time to seek a different type of sales person, one who has experience with consultative sales skills and in environments that are as demanding as the RV industry is becoming. There are many such people available today as companies trim their sales teams. Might there be a few gems out there that could provide a new spark and new dimension to your existing sales team? You bet there is.
Elevating the RV industry to new and more professional levels will require that many new sales people be hired to meet the increased demand for increased services and experience in the people consumers choose to do business with.
It may no longer be acceptable to do business as usual. Business is changing. You are forcing changes throughout your organization and making decisions to significantly expand your business operations. You can not neglect the sales team in your quest for leadership in your market.
We are not implying that all the current RV sales people can not change to be successful in the new environment. Many of them already have the skills you need and will enhance your investment by producing the desired results afforded by the new environment. However, instead of hiring average RV salespeople as you expand your team, consider going outside the industry to find experienced sales professionals that can sell in the new dealership that you are trying to create.
Hang out the help wanted sign and see what comes through the door.
The sales game continues to change in all industries. Significant investments have been made in many other industries to increase the selling skills and techniques required to meet new demands. There are many great sales people on the street today who might just welcome a change of industry to rekindle the flame that propelled them to success in another career field.
The RV industry has sizzle and excitement, something that may have disappeared from an industry that they have spent a lifetime developing outstanding attributes, attitude, and success just waiting for a new challenge.
You have nothing to lose by interviewing a different breed of sales professional, one that is outside the industry and with no baggage associated with your type of business. You may be pleasantly surprised to see the caliber of sales person that might be available in your area of the country.
Selling big-ticket discretionary type products is not exclusive to the RV industry. Expensive real estate, luxury yachts, and million dollar capital equipment sales environments have long ago made the change in their sales approaches to meet new demands of their customers. Product sales people were replaced with systems sales people. Peddlers were replaced with professionals.
Take a chance and hang out the help wanted sign and see what comes through the door. What do you have to lose?
The industry is going to continue to grow and we are going to need more salespeople. Where are you going to find them? Are you satisfied that your current team has all the skills and talent necessary to grow with your company? Are you willing to invest the significant time and resources required to hire inexperienced sales people and wait for them to develop into proven professionals?
How many of your current customers are successful sales people in a different and unrelated industry? Do you even know how many of your customers are in sales? vEverybody knows somebody who is a sales professional. Perhaps a letter to your existing customer base will bring you the names of people who would fit nicely in your organization and have all the skills demanded by our changing industry. And who better to know and appreciate the type of sales person they would like to deal with in the RV industry, than an experienced RVer?
Everybody is quick to say that the biggest challenge facing the RV industry today is the lack of qualified service technicians. You wont find many people who would disagree with that need, but those same people will tell you that we also have a requirement and mandate to upgrade the professionalism of the sales people that must write the business required to grow the industry.
The two go hand in hand.
I get very frustrated when companies tell me they are not hiring new sales people. In fact, they will not even interview sales people if they do not have an open position. This is crazy you should have an open door policy when it comes to recruiting and interviewing good sales talent.
If a sales manager has ten sales people, then someone is at the top of the list in the number one slot, and somebody is at the bottom of the list in the number ten slot. Why then would any good sales manager say they are not hiring or interviewing?
If you interview and the person looks like they could be a good number five person, then guess what happens to the number ten person and dont let the door hit him/her on their way out the door.
Hang out the help wanted sign, interview some new talent, recruit some new sales people from your existing customer base and start planning for that new sales team that you will need to grow your business. The good ones you already have dont have anything to worry about . If the environment is right, they are going nowhere and would actually welcome some new faces and some new challenges to retain their positions at the top of the sales charts.
You dont have to hire everybody that you interview. But if you dont interview, youll never hire the person that might be just what you need right now. Try it and see what happens.
Good luck and good selling. RVN
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