A Smart Sales Team Helps Navigate Supply Chain Challenges
Aside from the housing bubble bust in 2009, Scelzi Enterprises has somehow managed to avoid the heavy damage done by major ups and downs of business cycles. That was the only year in the 43-year history of the company that truck body sales did not increase from year to year. That trend continued this past year as the company closed its fiscal year in September, registering another record sales total. This does not mean the company has not been forced to scramble at times or get extremely creative while adjusting to changes in truck body demand, scarcity of key raw materials and common accessories, like cranes and hoists and hitches. Or juggle production lines when workforce shortages required a change. To some degree, it has been a 43-year juggling act for Scelzi – as it is with all successful enterprises – but the number of production variables has certainly increased dramatically in the past few years.
NO SHORT-TERM SALVATION
Current trends indicate the juggling will continue into 2023. Supply line shortages continue to slow production and extend lead times for some items to be the longest in recent memory. For example, lead times for truck body cranes from major providers is currently running up to 9 months for many models. In some cases there are substitutions that can be offered to the customer, but that often involves risk in using a less-preferred supplier or brand. “I’ve never seen anything like this before,” states owner Mike Scelzi.
The increased supply chain issues are becoming so entrenched that both Microsoft and Amazon have recently launched new software services to deal with the problem. Amazon’s AWS Supply Chain and Microsoft’s Supply Chain Platform were both released in November, and time will tell how much they deliver on their promise to not only help businesses deal with actual shortages, but also aid them in predicting future shortages and strategically lean on new suppliers or methods of procurement.
A SALES CONSULTING STRATEGY
One weapon to fight these heightened supply chain battles that may be overlooked by some is the value of a well-trained, well-informed sales team. When sales are rolling in and supply chains are filled to the brim, a sales team can be strained just to keep up with their quotes. This includes both the dealership sales team and manufacturing sales representatives. But when even the standard cookie cutter orders are a challenge to fill, due to shortages and inexplicable delays, the true value of a sales professional is revealed.
“We look for people with truck experience, for sure,” says Mike Scelzi, “but that part can be taught. Finding good listeners and creative problem solvers requires a bit more patience. And those are the salespeople who can offer the customer options that others would not even think about.”
And it is not just the sales team, but key sales support personnel as well. “We don’t want people who can only do things the way they have always been done,” adds Scelzi VP of Sales John Vernon. “Because right now we are dealing with a whole new set of challenges, and that is likely going to require a new set of answers. We always listen to the customer, for how they are going to use their truck and what options they will need. But with the delays in getting so many things right now, we also need to be able to offer more creative designs or alternate choices that would normally not enter into the conversation. We are living in a ‘new normal’ time right now, and we all better adapt quickly.”
For Scelzi Enterprises, that willingness and speed to adapt to difficult challenges has been part of the company’s DNA since its inception, and one that continues to serve them well as 2023 approaches.