Pictured Above: Derek Alexander is a salesperson at Wright Implement’s Owensboro, Ky., location. The dealership has 9 locations in Indiana and Kentucky and carries John Deere, STIHL, Honda Power Equipment, Kuhn and Anderson. Photo courtesy of Wright Implement

Derek Alexander, rural equipment salesperson for Wright Implement, Owensboro, Ky., has found a mix of automated and personal contact sales strategies to let him be available to his customers 24x7.

He’s finding success through “social” selling strategies, including his own mobile app and Facebook page. He is also available after hours through automated text messaging. Those tools help him drive urgency toward a purchase while being more accessible to his customers, providing the information they need when they need it.

Alexander has also taken the initiative to establish a Facebook group for rural equipment salespeople to share ideas and have some camaraderie.

Read on to learn more about Alexander’s approach to rural equipment sales.

RLD: Can you explain your role at Wright Implement?

Derek Alexander: I’m one of two turf salespeople and I specialize in compact tractors. I’ve been working at the dealership for 6 years. I came from a background as a car salesman and sales manager. I was a successful salesperson, but struggled as a sales manager. I spent more time doing administrative tasks and handling employee issues than I did selling and doing training, which I enjoyed. Also, I was looking for a change from working nights and weekends which the car business demanded.

When I was hired as a turf salesperson, I wanted to transition to selling ag equipment because I thought that’s where you made the big money. But after I got into this industry and saw the potential of the turf business and smaller tractors, I had no interest in large ag. A successful salesperson can sell virtually anything with the proper training, so it was a fairly straightforward transition for me to go from selling cars to selling tractors.

There are a lot of people in this business who expect sales to be easy if you know your product, but they will have a lot of trouble without the proper sales training. You can always blame someone else for not meeting your sales goals, but I feel my success is all based on what I do. 

RLD: What are your biggest challenges and how are you addressing them?

Alexander: With the volume I’m selling now, just juggling all the appointments and deliveries is getting challenging. I still prep, fuel and clean each delivery, which is not the best use of my time. I need to delegate better. I’m looking into getting a part-time assistant next year who can do these routine tasks, so I can be free to market, prospect and sell more. 

I’ve been able to establish myself and build connections through my own Facebook page (www.Facebook.com/DerekatWrightImpIement) where I promote specials, post videos and highlight customer purchases and trade-ins. Facebook helps me build interest and relationships. I also communicate with customers through Facebook Messenger and have had success selling through Facebook Marketplace.

I also have my own mobile app that lets customers contact me digitally and has links to visit the dealership website and my YouTube page as well as to request a test drive and schedule service. Other features include a payment calculator, application for financing and a list of reasons that someone should buy from me. As customers use the app, I’m able to capture their phone numbers for easy follow-up. My favorite feature of the app is that it’s shareable — clients can share my app and I get a notification when that happens. I feel like I’m only scratching the surface of the referral potential of that feature. The app costs me $1,000 a year, but I need to invest in myself so others will invest in me. It has become a very powerful way for me to differentiate my personal and dealership brand from my competitors.

Derek Alexander’s mobile app has played a critical role in serving customers around the clock and encouraging them to buy.

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I’ve also found I can reach people more easily through texting and I use automated responses after work hours. For instance, the automated text might say, “Thanks for buying our new product. I’ll contact you soon to schedule delivery. Please let me know if you have any questions in the meantime.” I also have numerous “unsold” texts I shoot out to folks who haven’t bought yet and are not responding back. You may call a client 6 times and not get a response. However, as soon as you text them, you hear back in 30 seconds. This allows me to do more follow-ups in less time.

While I’m on the subject of texting, I appraise all my trades via text. I have a client send me photos, the serial number and hours and I can usually estimate the trade value. Many salespeople in our industry spend way too much time driving around looking at trade-ins. With the technology we have today, it’s not necessary for what I do and would limit my sales volume if I appraised trades the old way. 

RLD: So, you’re available to your customers whenever they are interested in your products. What does your weekly schedule look like then?

Alexander: Yes, that’s right. When I shifted to that mindset, my sales really took off. Once you add equipment to Facebook Marketplace, for instance, you’re looking at a 24-hour business. If you’re not looking at this as a 24-hour business, then you’re going to miss opportunities.

I’m based in the store, which means my interactions are done in the store, on the phone or online. I’m a very process-driven person, which allows me to stick to a tight schedule. 

I arrive at the dealership at 8:30 a.m. and work straight through until I leave at 5 p.m. I don’t stop and take an hour lunch like many salespeople. I usually eat in my office. Sometimes, I’ll come in on Saturdays and work until noon if I have appointments, which is often.

My day starts by checking my daily planner. I’ll see if I have any service clients who are having issues with equipment and I’ll make sure my deliveries for the day are staged. Next, I will check incoming trade-ins to see what is available so I can contact prospective buyers. I constantly check incoming trades, and, in many cases, have the trade-in sold before other salespeople even know it’s available. 

Next, I’ll make my way through my appointments for the day. In between, I’ll follow up with unsold prospects via text, phone or email. After I have followed up with all unsold prospects, I will do daily sold follow-ups. I try to touch a sold client every 4 months via call/text or letter. 

RLD: How do you transition from working with customers online to working with them in person?

Alexander: They’ve seen me on the introduction video in the mobile app and on my Facebook page link, so, yes, we’ve built rapport before they even come in the door. I’ve found that the customer is more enjoyable to work with when they are familiar with you and the dealership. 

With a walk-in client at the store, I always engage them with questions, such as “What are you using now?” or “Do you enjoy mowing or do you just want to get it over with?” I try to listen and not just overpower them by talking non-stop about the product. We all know people who have lots of product knowledge but don’t sell much equipment. You have to engage the customer. 

RLD: You’ve also started a Facebook group for rural lifestyle sales professionals. Can you explain more about that?

Alexander: I created the page for turf, compact tractor and UTV salespeople who are using social media to sell their products. We screen our members, so if someone sends a request and I look at their Facebook page and they don’t have a profile pic and don’t mention they sell tractors, that means to me they are not serious about their business. It’s nice to have a community where you can converse with other salespeople and share experiences and challenges. We now have more than 100 members throughout the United States. We talk about the sales we’re making or things we’re struggling with. We will compare and critique each other’s videos and talk about what’s working and not working for us on social media. 

RLD: What do you enjoy most about selling?

Alexander: A good salesperson wants to close the transaction, but to me, the biggest benefit is that I have my own business. A successful salesperson has their own business within a business. Rural lifestyle clients as a group are the best customers you will ever deal with. They enjoy working their properties and are very loyal if you take care of them. 

Fortunately, my dealership (Wright Implement) gives me great tools to work with. They supply me with millions of dollars in inventory, aggressive marketing and many other tools that make it easy for me to sell. I’m also fortunate in that my management team gives me freedom to sell products as I see fit without micromanaging me. The harder I work, the more money I make. If you build up your personal brand the right way, there is so much opportunity in the rural lifestyle market.