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In most dealerships, techs help deliver leads – in this company, they close them too!

8 Jun, 2004

In most dealerships, techs help deliver leads – in this company, they close them too!

Acquiring leads to pass along to your sales department has always been a costly undertaking. First, you have to decide where to start. Would you start a direct mail campaign – those post cards cost how much? What about hiring telemarketers and paying for some hot lists – telemarketers are how much? Some people join leads groups – but which one and how much are the annual dues?

Lots of dealers have their service department “turn in” any upgrades that they run across in the field. Some even go as far as to mention any new products to their current client base (sales managers always tell me that this is the easiest way to get those “hot” leads).

All of the above mentioned methods work. They generate leads, some are just better than others (service techs turning in leads vs. telemarketing).

But what if the service department was also the sales department? Could it actually work? A lot of sales reps think that techs worry too much because they’re always wondering if the machine will actually work in the account. Hey, let’s sell it and move on, right? Scary thought to have those technicians close deals. It scared me too when I first heard of this one dealers philosophy.

Acal copiers was started in 1988 by Tony Caliendo, who believed that most copiers out there would actually work a lot longer than the sales rep led the customer to believe.

A salesperson would say: “You’ve had it for three years. It’s getting tired and it’s time to check out our new model. It’s got this new bell and a really cool whistle as well and best of all, these new ones never jam.”

This bothered Caliendo to no end – the fact that the salespeople were selling his clients new machines when they really didn’t need them.

I ask many dealers that I meet what separates them from the rest of the pack—why should a potential client decide to buy from you? I hear the same answer over and over and over again – “Oh, it’s the service. Our techs are great!”

The big problem here is that the last three copier salespeople that saw the potential client said the same thing. All dealerships must have something that sets them apart from the pack. Vague stories about great service and a friendly staff just don’t cut it. This isn’t 1973 any more. The copier has become a commodity. What can you do?

An entrepreneur at heart, Caliendo did what many former techs and salespeople did—he saw a problem and filled it by starting his own business, an office equipment dealership with a twist.

He tells potential clients that his company has no salespeople. His company is run by a technician (him) and his technicians know what a machine can and cannot do— remember the credibility that the techs have? He’s leveraging that—big time.

When a potential client is shopping for a new copier/fax/printer Acal sends in the local technician for their area and potential clients are absolutely floored. Be honest and tell me who you would rather buy from?

Acal picks up many, many service accounts that the mega dealers originally sell. Caliendo explained that the mega dealers quote a service rate that is so low that they can’t maintain the machine properly. The client becomes unhappy and then hears about this company that doesn’t have any salespeople.

The first step that the Acal technician takes is to bring the prospect outside to see the inside of their vans. I thought that was a great selling point. When was the last time that a technician in any industry showed you the inside of their vehicle? When the prospect sees how clean and neat the inside of the van is and how many parts are stocked inside each one, they are absolutely blown away. All of the technicians have vans lettered and designed exactly the same way. This shows the clients and prospects that no matter what technician they get they’ll be treated the same way.

Caliendo has succeeded because he has set up a system inside his company to ensure that all of the technicians are fully trained on all the new products—not only from a service aspect, but also a sales aspect. This is the key to your technicians’ sales success.

It goes to show you that when you truly look out for the best needs of the clients and have something that’s really unique, your business can thrive.

By the way, did you ever meet someone that said his or her company’s service was only marginal? Me neither.







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