By Christopher Lyon, NTEA Director of Fleet Relations
This article was published in the April 2017 edition of NTEA News.
Sales calls are often viewed by fleet professionals as interruptions and a cause of decreased productivity. As such, many organizations have policies allowing sales representatives to be seen by appointment only. Getting an appointment with the right audience can be difficult and time-consuming. In the meantime, fleet professionals may be missing out on opportunities to find new vendors and product offerings.
The first challenge is getting past the gatekeeper. Main business lines are frequently answered by administrative support staff who may have limited fleet-related knowledge. Finding the right contact with decision-making authority is key to establishing a successful sales relationship.
Create a contact database
Vocational fleets and organizations have websites with general contact information. This is a good starting point, but be prepared to bounce around before connecting with the proper individual. Going beyond general numbers, the internet is a great resource. Searching the company name followed by “fleet manager” often yields positive results, saving you valuable time.
Social media use and reach continues to expand, and sites such as LinkedIn have industry-related groups. Finding connections can be as easy as linking your existing electronic address books to social media accounts. Plus, following current customers can lead to other similar professional affiliations.
Awards and lists
Staying in touch with the industry is another way to increase your exposure. News outlets often feature items such as The 100 Best Fleets (the100bestfleets.com) and Leading Fleet Awards (government-fleet.com). Trade magazines are another key resource, as they share fleet accomplishments and recognize fleet managers making an impact on the industry.
Even with today’s technological advancements, there is nothing like in-person contact. A name and face (and hopefully a business card) can be a real asset when pursuing follow-up calls. It’s important to become a professional networker, as there’s a better chance of getting a meeting with the right audiences if they remember you. If you can accomplish this, you have surpassed the need for cold-calling and have a greater opportunity to begin a business relationship.
To summarize, locate and leverage the appropriate fleet contacts. Take the time to do research instead of making cold calls, and balance your use of technology and in-person communication.
If you have any questions on this article or other fleet-related matters, contact Chris Lyon.