Identify the decision maker. That’s a basic sales principle. At your dealership, the decision maker may or may not be the ones driving that tractor or zero-turn mower, but they are the ones that tip the scale from a shopping experience to a purchasing experience.

I wanted to offer another way to look at the decision maker, or the person who influences that decision maker. Recently, I was test driving a compact tractor. I was already impressed with the equipment’s versatility. I had been bombarded with specifications and was a little wary of the price. During the demo, I scraped the loader bucket on the asphalt lot — and cringed because the equipment was brand new. With these six words, “You’re not going to hurt anything,” the salesperson changed the dynamic of the demo experience.

At that moment, that salesperson made me feel like an owner, not a shopper. It wasn’t about the specs, controls or options. It was about how I was going to make that equipment work on our property. I would be scraping the bucket. That shiny paint would be speckled with mud. His friendly, informal response helped me envision how that tractor would help us accomplish our improvement projects this spring.

I encourage you to try a similar sales strategy and treat your customers like they own the machines they’re walking around and see if it changes how they respond.

Go & Find Them

Dealers shared this statistic in our 2013 Dealer Business Trends & Outlook Survey: More than 56% of dealers say rural lifestyle customer numbers have increased in the last five years and 11% define that growth as 20% or more. If those numbers hold true in your area, are you seeing 20% more rural lifestylers in your dealership? If not, maybe it’s time to go out and find them.

When your outside salespeople are making stops with production farmers or commercial users, have them also stop by when they see a rural lifestyler. They won’t be interested in a sales call if they’re working, but a friendly hello or a compliment on their property can start a relationship. Make it quick and be sure to share a promotion, even if it’s just a parts special. Plant the seed for new equipment purchases by offering a demo.

Investigate Adjacent Markets

Manufacturers have been busy this year expanding their market reach, with the latest being Polaris and its new commercial vehicle, Brutus. This is the first commercial vehicle and the first side-by-side utility vehicle to deliver front-end power take-off capability for a variety of property and facility maintenance duties.

Take this cue and stretch beyond your current markets. Research opportunities for selling to facility managers, for instance. It may not be feasible for you to add a new line, but you may already sell some equipment they need.

Regardless of whether you’re selling to commercial users or rural lifestylers, take advantage of the optimism spring brings. Project lists are long and your equipment can get the job done. Let’s get to work.

New Digital Edition

All of us at Rural Lifestyle Dealer are pleased to announce the new digital complement to our magazine. This digital version lets us share even more information and photos. It’s an interactive approach to providing you with the success strategies you need today and tomorrow. Go to to check it out.

And, as always, contact me any time with ideas and suggestions or comments about how we’re doing. We work for you.