Woods Equipment Co. just announced its partnership with Cabela’s. The North American retailer is introducing its branded line of Woods attachments through test markets. The partnership is exciting news for Woods. It marks its first entry into retail distribution — and what a way to do it. Cabela’s is the world’s largest direct marketer of hunting, fishing, camping and related outdoor merchandise.

I recently talked with Jerry Johnson, president of Woods. He says dealers will benefit along with the company. “We really expect dealers to get additional and new traffic in their stores.”

Plus, Cabela’s will not sell the complete line that Woods dealers do. Johnson says the Cabela’s by Woods attachments could offer dealers a lead-in to sell the additional attachments they carry.

These are definite benefits, but dealers in the same market as Cabela’s have reasons to be concerned, too. Here’s yet another competitor for rural lifestyle equipment. So, what’s your biggest advantage? In this case, I don’t think it’s necessarily what you sell, but how you sell it — your salespeople. Here’s why your salespeople can help you win customers over Cabela’s or any other big box store in your neighborhood.

1. For your salespeople, equipment is their priority. They’re not just familiar with a few products, but many makes and models of products — and options, competitive advantages, what’s coming next and more. Some dealerships are lucky enough to have people who have built their careers on equipment sales. Think of the breadth of real-world experience this offers your rural lifestylers.

2. Your salespeople leave the sales floor and seek out rural lifestylers. They’re visiting them on their properties and seeing how they live, work and play. They’re getting personal, even sharing personal mobile numbers.

3. Your salespeople are not just a resource for the purchase cycle, but for the lifetime of the machine. They’re taking those phone calls in the evening and on the weekends when their customers have questions. And, they’re right there when a customer wants advice on the next level of machine.

The challenge is that these messages aren’t an ad campaign. You can’t really market this like you would with a new equipment line. Instead, it’s a grass-roots effort that begins with each new customer and is reinforced with each returning customer. That’s OK because those kinds of relationships will last longer than any marketing campaign.

While you’re nurturing these relationships with customers, take the time to learn from a high-end competitor like Cabela’s. Their move into this land and wildlife management market shows the tremendous opportunities for the hunting segment of the rural lifestyle crowd. If you’re not selling to them, you should. Any reason to be outdoors is more opportunities for you, too.