Describe your sales team. Would you use words like dedicated, knowledgeable and customer-focused? Maybe you’ve even said this a time or two, “They’ll do whatever it takes.”

One manufacturer executive offered his own description of many of the dealership salespeople he meets: Order takers. “Dealers aren’t imaginative. They don’t care about selling anything until someone comes in and asks for it. They sit in their offices and wait for someone to come in,” he says.

In the interest of full disclosure, this shortline manufacturer was frustrated because he has a new product and dealers and their sales teams are not interested in taking the time to learn about the product, much less promote it to their customers. Instead, he says they are continuing to settle for selling familiar equipment, the same variation of models they’ve been selling for years.

“I read articles about how innovative dealers are today and they are in some aspects. But many are only order takers, not salespeople,” he says.

Before you discount his comments as just another manufacturer who has no idea of the realities of running a dealership, do the exercise of proving him wrong. For a month or even a week, clock, track and analyze your sales team like you do your service technicians.

For instance, ask your sales team to plan a full week’s schedule — who they plan to contact in person or by phone each day, what they’ll talk about, how long they’ll set aside for each meeting, and what the result will be. Make sure this isn’t just a glorified to-do list, but an action document for which they will be held accountable at the end of the week.

Be ready to ask them what threw them off schedule and off goal. Have them document why they lost a sale, including details about who the customers bought from instead. Then, do this again and again. You’ll quickly uncover the order takers who have been hiding out in your dealership.

They won’t like it and you probably won’t like it, either. After all, dealerships are supposed to be a nice place to work. Who wants to work in an aggressive environment? Your salespeople, that’s who. It should be part of what drives them.

There is lots of talk about relationship-building as part of the sales process and that’s true. But, at some point, you need to not just ask for the sale, but make the sale. And, not just to make quotas, but because you know you’re selling the best equipment and you need to keep your dealership in business long enough to sell your customers that next mower or tractor.

To grow, seek the unfamiliar. Don’t wait for orders.


Our judges recognized two dealerships this year in our Dealership of the Year program as each achieved excellence among their peers. Congratulations to PrairieCoast Equipment, our multi-store dealer, and Kelly Tractor & Equipment, our single-store dealer. Learn from them what it takes to achieve Dealership of the Year status in our stories in this issue.

Tracking Trends

Data leads to knowledge and in this issue, we’re introducing our new column Rural Equipment Intelligence. The column will drill down to data specifically for the rural lifestyle market and track what’s happening so you can prepare for what’s next.

Finally, we wish you congratulations as many of you are wrapping up a stellar year. We’ll do our part to help you keep the momentum going into 2016.