In The Trades: Planting the Seeds of Success

By Taylor Steinberg

With my almost 53 years of creating solutions for customers, I believe there has never been a better time than the present to focus on Self-Improvement, especially in the area of communicating with our customers. We are all experiencing and practicing the requirements to stay healthy while communication with our customers is still required to address their needs, especially in the areas of essential services. Creature comforts, the areas we all require to function continually without interruption, including electricity, plumbing, HVACR and Wi-Fi / Telecommunications, must go on as normal. These and many other essential services use different models of Ford products to maintain and provide everything we depend on.

Communication with all of your customers is essential in support of their various functions and Wi-Fi / Telecommunications is one of your keys to continued success. Utilize your phone, Email, Facebook, Twitter, Skype, FaceTime, Linkedin, WhatsApp, Web Ex, Zoom and numerous other types of communication to the fullest. For the last four Sundays, my wife and I have assisted with our Sunday morning church services using Zoom, mobile phones and Facebook to broadcast live at 10:30 AM on Sunday morning. We record music, readings, prayers and other items of interest a day or two before Sunday and the minister, sitting by herself in her office, puts them into a Power Point presentation and plays them as needed during her live broadcast. We get together after the services utilizing Zoom and conduct our virtual social hour.

As a professional Ford commercial solutions provider, utilize the numerous communication software available to continue your customer contacts. In these challenging times, continued communication with your customers is essential for the success of both you and your customers.

At The Knapheide Manufacturing Company, an essential business provider, 50% of the Marketing staff must work from home. As a retiree and working part time with teaching and hosting customers, I will not be in the office until the isolation requirements cease. To continue helping others, plans are to record a number of sales training related classes for the School of Agriculture at Western Illinois University, from where I graduated 53 years ago with a degree in agriculture and chemistry. I continue to enjoy agriculture along with my corporate training responsibilities at Knapheide by managing the family farm, in business since 1865.

The basic philosophies of creating customer solutions remain the same throughout many industries. Agriculture, an essential business provider, relies on the products and services provided by Ford commercial dealers to address their continuing transportation requirements. Ford commercial products, used for delivering diesel fuel, fertilizer, seed and many other essential goods and services are required in agriculture for the continued production of our food supply.

Calling on customers in almost any industry requires the following protocols that fit directly into the Self-Development theme of this article. Let us review the core values that continue to make the Ford commercial sales persons successful.

  1. Understanding  Customer Vocations
  2. How can you effectively communicate with your customer unless you understand their needs and expectations? We expect the Creature Comfort Industries of HVACR, Plumbing, Electricity and Wi-Fi / Telecommunications to perform to our expectations. The minute one of these fail, you immediately source the needed technician with the solution.
  • The first step in exceeding your customer’s expectations is to know those expectations.
  • Study the job and functional requirements of the customer’s transportation solution. Get to know the goals and objectives of their operation and their industry. Will the customer be servicing the HVACR system at your home with a Transit equipped with a Knapheide KUV or pulling a 30,000 Lb. fertilizer buggy to the farm or ranch with an F550 equipped with a Knapheide Gooseneck Body?
  • The seasoned professional Ford commercial salesperson will study the industries they serve well enough to create future vehicle solutions the customer is not aware they need.
  • Selling Vocational Packages
  • Once you understand what your customers do, market your products.
  • Customers routinely have two simple goals – Improve their efficiencies and lower their costs per mile.
  • Selling or in my book known as “creating customer solutions” is about how you and your products will assist the customer in accomplishing these two goals.
  • Define the efficiency umbrella – 1. Easy access to parts, tools and materials need to get the job done efficiently. 2. Inventory control of all items needed to accomplish their task. 3. Easy access to what is needed and to secure between jobs. 4. Operator is proud to work out of this unit and show it off to his peers.
  • Define lowering their costs per mile – 1. Controlling vehicle weight through reduced inventories and unneeded supplies. 2. Correct fuel-efficient engine to accomplish the task required. 3. Select the correct fuel choice for the application. Why does the farm and ranch fuel supplier use propane fuel in their delivery truck? They deliver diesel, gasoline and propane to these customers. 4. Effective use of telematics to reduce the number of miles driven.
  • Successful Prospectors Always
  • Know their product and what it will do help the customer
  • Utilize all of their resources, especially the web, literature and Ford training materials.
  • Understand how to get past the “Gatekeeper.” I have had a great deal of success by Finding Common Ground.
  • Spend little time at the dealership. The most successful commercial dealer salesperson I ever knew spent one day per month at the dealership.
  • Always take care of unfinished business from the previous day first.
  • Manage their time and prospect lists.
  • Build their presentation for the target audience.
  • Conduct daily prospecting wherever they may be.
  • Develop and market new solutions for their customers – often times before the customer’s request.
  • Summary of how to succeed in times like these.
  • Differentiate yourself from the rest of your competitors.
  • Create a branding proposition that stands out in a crowded marketplace.
  • Establish a strong partnership that your customer can depend upon. Never let them down.
  • People do business with people, not with companies.
  • Every prospecting contact gives them a perception of who you are.
  • ABCD = Always Be Connecting Dots. The more you know about your customer, the easier you can connect.

Subject areas 1 – 4 above are a condensed version of thoughts, ideas and suggestions from multiple decades of different resources and personal experiences to train Ford Commercial sales persons and Knapheide distributors throughout North America.  Feel free to utilize all of these to create customer solutions. The environment under which we are all operating requires us to move out of our comfort zones. Suggest you check out the following article first published in the spring 2016 edition of Ford Pros Magazine entitled Pitch Perfect / Perfect pitch. So much of this article applies to your success today.

The key to your continued success will be the implementation of the following statement.

Utilize all of the intensity and passion one can muster to make your customers successful!