Sales Rep Confidential: AreYou A Dinosaur?

By Walter McDonald

Unless you’ve spent the last year on another planet, you must know that many Dealer Principals are extremely unhappy with their current sales rep performance. A company owner just told me, quote, “These guys are fat, dumb and happy. They simply have not adjusted to the new market realities. They are waiting for the phone to ring, expecting us to provide them leads, which, they may or may not follow-up.”

Another Dealer Executive says, “My sales reps have become too complacent, lethargic and unwilling to take the steps we need to get profitable business in today’s market. Because they are not asking the essential diagnostic questions, prospects see them as arrogant. And, because they are not covering their existing accounts, customers are complaining that we are taking their business for granted.”

The Dealers I talk to are seriously considering alternatives to high-cost, low-performance machinery sales organizations. Are YOU in Jeopardy? Does your Dealer Executive have the perception that you are the weakest link between his Dealership and profitable new business? Are you in danger of being seen as a dinosaur by your company owner? Are you in danger of being replaced by a more cost-effective sales process?

Check yourself out with this Quickie Self-Test: Are You A Dinosaur?

SL No.You must be entirely honest. Answer truthfully Yes or No to each of these questions.YESNO
1Do I follow-up immediately on sales leads, talking to the prospect within no more than four hours after his first contact with the dealership?
2Am I following a disciplined A-B-C account contact plan with all current users of our primary lines in my sales territory?
3Do I have an effective way to track my “deal visibility,” the percentage of deals in which I participate in my territory?
4As part of my “deal visibility” improvement effort, do I complete factual “lost sales reports,” asking the prospect, “Other than price, why did you choose to go with _ on this purchase?”
5Do I prepare useful, timely field contact reports to management, informing them of competitive activity, customer perceptions and market opportunities?
6Am I making regular calls on job sites in my territory to prospect for short-term rentals as well as machinery sales opportunities?
7Am I sufficiently able to overcome “call reluctance” and commit at least 20% of my time each week prospecting for new, never-before accounts?
8Do I have a fairly accurate knowledge of how many cold calls, sales appointments,
9Am I actively pursuing short-term rentals as “paid demos” instead of providing prospects free loaners to test out our machines.
10Have I developed and utilize a meaningful set of diagnostic questions to ask prospective accounts about their application, current problems, operating costs and equipment payback issues?
11Do I make certain that I ask a sufficient number of diagnostic questions to ensure that the customer purchases the right equipment for the job?
12Do I work hard to avoid looking like an alligator to a prospect, i.e, small ears, small eyes and a big mouth?
13Am I capitalizing on accessory sales to current and prospective customers, i.e., am I achieving a monthly accessory sales quota?
14Am I an effective “team player” in the dealership, being alert for cross-selling opportunities for aftermarket product support whenever possible?
15Do I spend a sufficient amount of time each week updating my computerized mailing list?
16Have I established a formal marketing program to promote new products and attachments through at least 20 targeted account mailings each week?
17Am I properly identifying and prospecting industry accounts that have never before purchased equipment from our dealership?
18Have I been able to break through feelings of complacency or fatigue, found new sources of energy and enthusiasm and work hard to maintain a level of professionalism essential to long-term success in the business?
19Do I systematically ask each customer for one or two referrals at the time of sale or equipment installation and do I promptly pursue these referrals, providing the original customer timely feedback on my progress or success?
20Am I utilizing true “walk around” demonstrations as a sales tool to keep my presentation skills sharp and persuasive and do I keep the prospect engaged by asking relevant questions?
21Am I investing the time to locate, operate and study at least two competitive units in the field every six months to remain current and accurate on my competitive comparisons?
22Am I properly exploiting social media capabilities to build my reputation and business Contact relationships with Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.?
23Am I actively prospecting members of key trade association groups?
24Am I utilizing my contact management software to schedule appointments, organize calls in distant counties or ZIP codes, follow-up on units coming off lease, following up on units that are up for replacement based on the account’s replacement cycle (hours, utilization, maintenance cost, etc.)?
25Am I monitoring my sales absorption rate, making absolutely certain that the dealership’s total cost of supporting me in the territory (wages, commissions, benefits, car, cell phone, travel, entertainment, promo expenses, etc.) are covered at least 125% from the gross profit I generate from my overall sales activities?
Total number “NO” Scores


If your total NO Dinosaur Score Is Over 20, Immediately review your score with your Dealer Principal. Discuss the “NO” issues and mutually select high-priority areas for immediate improvement. Or, find another job.

16 – 20 Present a personal Action Plan for Improvement to your Dealer Principal. Get his “buy in” on your Self-improvement efforts.

7 – 15 If you have been truthful in the self-assessment, you are doing OK, but improvement in selected areas would greatly increase your sales performance. Pick one or two areas to strengthen each month.

Under 7 Keep up the good work. Seek continuous improvement. Offer to become a “mentor” to assist new or lower performing reps in your company.

Now, if you want to move up to the top 2% of high-performing industry sales reps, this is what they are doing:

  1. Build a sales territory strategy by first identifying the very best end user segments or business types for each of your primary product lines.
  2. Identify each and every end user company in these highest priority end user or market segments.
  3. Complete a mini-profile for every company in these high-priority segments: key contacts, fleet composition, contact frequency strategy.
  4. Follow and implement your contact frequency strategy?
  5. Make joint sales calls with your product support rep on large, important accounts at least once a month.

E-mail me your success stories. And, Good Luck!

Please call me if you would like to discuss any aspect of this assessment exercise. Many sales reps already have the knowledge of what to do. So, there may be some confusion or lack of communications between you and your Dealer Principal about priorities. What are his or her expectations of you? Are you seriously responding to his or her concerns? If not, this is probably a good time for an open discussion about your performance and your future with this dealership. Avoid extinction. Don’t become a Dinosaur in your territory!