TOPIC: Do you have an outside salesperson? If so, how do you measure their results? If not, who handles sales on behalf of your company?While we truly value our inside salespeople and their vital role within the company, they cannot do what an outside salesperson can do: Getting to strategically know the customers. We have two resources focused on outside sales because we recognize the value of cultivating those face-to-face external relationships, not just over the phone or email. Our outside salespeople help us understand who the buyer is because they really have the pulse on the marketplace, giving them insights into market trends and what clients are really looking for.
When reviewing their performance, we’re measuring their goals through revenue growth and retention. Based on my 30 years in sales and business development—10 of them specifically within the transportation industry—the minimum goal would be to retain revenue run rates. If your company’s historical growth without an outside salesperson is two to three percent, you’d want to at least double that. Of course, it depends on various factors such as your market and service offerings. The more services you have to offer, the higher numbers you should establish.
Carolyn Callahan, Director of Sales
Reston Limousine in Dulles, Va.
Able Limousine has an affiliate manager who is also responsible for handling our outside sales. However, as this secondary role is fairly new, we have yet to establish the parameters to measure sales results. Currently, we are working with Kristen Carroll of The LMC Group to set up an improved structure so that we can easily monitor sales performance in the future.
Michael Callahan, President
Able Limousine in Hopkinton, Mass.
When we started the business in 2009, the intent was to hire a salesperson for lead generation, sales, and retention. Six years and six salespeople later, we gave up the search, at least for now. Since then, we have learned much about sales professionals as well as how the sales cycle in the limo industry works. Coming from the health insurance industry, I was familiar with sales, but was not prepared for the differences.
We have many great lessons under our belt so that in 2017 we can resume the search once again as a more mature company. We learned that most salespeople we interviewed wanted to work strictly on salary. As a new company, we couldn’t make that work financially or operationally.
We also have learned that the resume of a salesperson needs to be verified with references and very direct questions. Some people spoke of themselves as the “lead sales executive” for a major retail firm when they were, in fact, part of the support team. There is nothing wrong with that, but the lack of transparency was concerning: How would that translate during a potential sale? Was there a risk that they would over promise and we would inadvertently under deliver?
Another lesson we learned is that to objectively measure the effectiveness of a salesperson in the trial period it is critical that we agree initially to target a specific market segment. For example, “retail market” is too broad for such a large city such as Chicago with more than 70 neighborhoods! Perhaps it makes sense to identify boutique hotels and B&Bs in some of the trendier neighborhoods, for example?
Lastly, a good marketing person is not necessarily a good salesperson or a closer. For the moment, sales falls on me as the owner, but not for long!
Paula DeBiasi, President
Chicago CoachWorks in Chicago, Ill.
We presently have one outside salesperson. We measure his results through a formula based on sales production vs. his total cost of employment. The dilemma that most operators face, however, is to determine how long you keep a salesperson that is not producing positive cash flow. In addition to our salesperson, ownership is active in sales as well as our vice president of client relations who does both inside and outside sales.
Jon Epstein, President
Royal Coachman Worldwide in Denville, N.J.
We do in fact have a full-time outside sales manager, along with several inside sales team members, responsible for a percentage of outside sales efforts based on the needs of the vertical markets they are responsible for. Results are measured through revenue production (pipeline) and productivity (e.g., number of sales calls, types of sales calls, and types of business requirements).
We believe that a dedicated sales department is essential in driving the needed new business, account management, and existing business retention required to maintain growth in the industry. We also believe the sales aspect keeps us ahead of our competitors by understanding the ever-changing needs of our customers through account management-based relationships and assessment of new business needs.
Terry Jackson, Director of Sales & Revenue
BEST Transportation in St. Louis, Mo.
We have two full time salespeople in our operation. We utilize a customer relationship manager to monitor opportunities as well as analyze our performance and reporting weekly. We forecast and set regular goals for performance and give incentives to the salespeople based on those.
Linda Jagiela, Vice President of Business Development
CityCar Services Worldwide in Trenton, N.J.
Analyzing the size of both the company and the market served will determine the need for a dedicated sales person. I truly believe that it’s incumbent on the owner to provide direct leadership in this area. This results in long-term relationships that stay with your company and allows better cash flow. If you do employ a salesperson, remuneration should include a growth and retention policy.
The best salesperson is you the owner; after all, it is the owner who has the most skin in the game.
Edison Kahakauwila, President
L.A. Limousines & Transportation Services in Vancouver, B.C., Canada
We do not have an outside salesperson—every person in our company is responsible for increasing sales. The single most valuable advertising we have ever had, and continue to have, is word of mouth. We’ve done target marketing, cold calls, internet, trade shows, etc., but hands down, it’s the one-on-one contact with individual people that is most successful. We all come into contact with potential clients every day, and it’s the way we carry ourselves in public and private that shows them what kind of people we are and the company we associate ourselves with. Our chauffeurs and clients are wonderful ambassadors; we ask them to tell people about us.
When there is a potential client to be targeted, I will usually go and meet with them, because I’m best at connecting with them on a personal level. In all reality, I ask the client what they feel they need, and then see how we can help them. I don’t “show up and throw up,” because that’s useless. We all have black cars, professional chauffeurs, etc. What helps me to close a client is my level of care in helping them achieve their needs. We provide peace of mind to them. Win-win.
Tracy Salinger, General Manager
Unique Limousine in Harrisburg, Pa.
We have a robust business development department that handles our corporate sales and showcases for us at various industry events and business travel conventions. We also have a dedicated team that handles our events department, which further enhances our new sales efforts and upselling services and logistics for these high-end clients.
Our client services department will assist in advising our business development team of new client bookings in effort to also increase business.
Results are dynamic and measured by account performance on a monthly, quarterly, and annual basis.
Jeffrey Shanker, General Manager
RMA Worldwide Chauffeured Transportation in Rockville, Md.
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