Most outdoor power equipment dealers contain their business inside their four walls, and they wait for potential customers to come inside the dealership. They have created a comfort zone where they feel at ease completing the same day-to-day tasks that have always been on the agenda. While that process may keep these dealerships in business, it by no means guarantees a large amount of success or growth.
Broadening your OPE business externally can be an eye-opening experience. Many dealers think they are receiving a customer's full amount of business, only to find out that their customer has been purchasing brands from other dealers who have been proactive about pursuing customers and pitching new products. Branching out from your dealership can take on many forms. Both social calls and sales calls are effective ways to pursue relationships with prospective customers.
Outbound Sales Calls
Sales calls can be uncomfortable, but it's time to bite the bullet. They are crucial to getting your dealership's name out to prospects. Oftentimes, it is easier to sell to municipalities, schools, and state contracts because they are familiar with being called on and they typically have a physical office location where you can direct your efforts.
On the other hand, landscapers are used to going to an outdoor power equipment dealer, not the other way around, and can be harder to find. They are often out on a job and have no clear business space to send a request. If you are having trouble trying to find landscapers, your best bet is to check if they use their home as a make-shift office space. There are plenty of opportunities to expand your sales lists by looking into local estate owners, property management companies, and even large associations.
I always tell dealers that they are grabbing the cream off the top by waiting for potential customers to come into their store. While going out and finding business may be more difficult, you will reap the financial rewards with increased business.
Outbound Social Calls
Sales calls aren't the only way to externally expand your OPE dealership. Social calls can be just as, if not more, important than outbound sales. Take the time to call customers, potential customers, or any industry connections you have and start fact-finding. Begin with people you are comfortable with and get the communication flowing.
Ask probing questions like "Have you had any big changes in your business recently?" or "How are you dealing with this _____ development?" Ideally, you can pinpoint something the customer is struggling with and be able to suggest a solution. If that involves your products or services, then great! If not, don't worry, focusing on building relationships and trust will pay off in the long run.
Timing is Everything
Whether it is a social call or a sales call, try to schedule them when you know it is a slow period. February and March are a great time to visit landscapers in the Northeast. They are probably thinking about the upcoming spring season, but they are not overly busy (unless it snows!). For municipalities and government entities, the end of the year is a great time to spark a conversation since they will be trying to finalize the upcoming year's budget.
If you want 2016 to be a growth year for your dealership, expand your sales efforts outside of your four walls. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing; start slowly and go out in concentric circles in terms of contacting people you may know or are located close to your dealership. Set a realistic goal of how many people you will contact this week and stick with it. The more you do it, the better you'll get at converting cold calls into productive meetings.
Feel free to leave a comment about how you have expanded your OPE dealership's external sales efforts.
Looking for more ways to grow your outdoor power equipment dealership's business? Read this blog: