Heavy equipment rental consultant, Mets Kramer, joined Record360’s CEO, Jesse Buckingham, for an in-depth conversation on using data to drive predictable rental sales growth. They also discussed how to grow rental sales by becoming a trusted advisor to your customers, as well as how to leverage technology (e.g., CRMs, Record360) to build loyal customers. Read on below for a summary of the key takeaways from our webinar, A data driven approach to rental sales growth.
Building relationships of trust and loyalty with customers doesn’t stop with knowing their names, likes, and dislikes. As Mets put it, “you need to know your customers deeply to give them good advice.” Those in the rental industry know that they’re in the business of relationships and giving advice. To give the best advice you have to have a complete picture of your customer. As Jesse put it, “The core insight here is about putting yourself in your customers’ shoes so that you understand the context they’re operating in…that allows you to speak from a place where you know their interests and you’re no longer just the guy with the equipment you want to sell.” Having a deep understanding of the equipment your customers use, how they use it, and what they want to achieve are all prerequisites to becoming a trusted advisor.
Becoming a trusted advisor requires you to have lots of information about your customers, and their equipment, at your fingertips. This means you need technology (e.g., CRM, Record360) to overcome the brain’s limited capacity to remember things. Mets shared a story where “a young service supervisor would take calls all day, and I asked him ‘How do you remember to call that guy back later?’” The supervisor said to Mets, “Oh, well I remember everything.” Later that day the same customer called the supervisor, after not hearing back from him. The supervisor immediately remembered the customer, their issue, and the fact that he was supposed to call. The supervisor apologized for not calling back and resolved the customer’s issue. This is not an ideal customer experience. As Mets puts it, “A lot of customer information is tied up in peoples’ heads and peoples’ heads are not great at remembering everything.” To replace the fallible human brain with something more reliable, most rental shops and dealerships have implemented a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system, like Salesforce. This is used to house critical customer information. When it comes to remembering things about a customer’s equipment, rental operators rely on an Inspection Management System, like Record360. Remembering what pre-existing damage was on a specific unit before it went out is difficult. Taking photos, video, and completing a digital checklist on a mobile device is simple and reliable. Technology enables you to become the trusted advisor your customers will rely on.
Developing strong systems and processes, like the ones mentioned above, are crucial when building a scalable rental sales team. Mets is a firm believer that, “you can’t build a growing organization around one person…if you want to grow your business you need to be repeatable and scalable.” Put another way, how can you take the best practices from your best employees and make them repeatable by everyone? Mets goes on to say that, “the entire point of putting information, systems, and tools in place for people is to replicate the success you’ve had.” If you’re an owner or manager with a key employee or two, you should be looking for ways to develop systems which replicate that employee’s success across your entire organization. That allows your business to be repeatable, and therefore, scalable.
The core insight here is about putting yourself in your customers’ shoes so that you understand the context they’re operating in…that allows you to speak from a place where you know their interests, and you’re no longer just the guy with the equipment you want to sell.
Now, what sort of data points should be tracking? For Mets, he always begins with understanding the entire ecosystem of the customer’s business. What is the job they’re trying to accomplish? What equipment do they have in their fleet? Once you understand their fleet and objective, you can apply that information to suggesting the best equipment to get their job done. Mets has found that salespeople can oftentimes just ask the customer for their fleet list. He says, “they’ll give it to you because they’ll assume you’re going to do something useful with it,” which you will. After collecting fleet data, Mets recommends tracking the following: residual values on the equipment, operating cost per hour, and disposition planning, among other things. Armed with this data, you can surprise your customers with expert insights on which machines they should be buying and which ones they should be renting. Your customers will appreciate you looking out for their best interest and will, in turn, become more loyal to your business. If you’re not tracking these pieces of data right now, then you’re leaving customer loyalty, and money, on the table.
This data will not only help your bottom line, but it will also help your salespeople. It positions your salespeople as experts and thought partners, as opposed to the person the customer calls when they need a new piece of equipment. You might have thought that focusing on data would erode the ability to develop strong relationships, but the opposite is true. Having this data on your customers allows you to provide valuable insights to your customers, which helps build trust, loyalty, and the relationship.
To wrap up, Mets discussed how to successfully implement new systems such as a CRM or Record360. I’m sure many people reading this have struggled to roll out a new piece of software to their team. How do you get buy in? How do you make the right choice when buying software? From Mets’ perspective it’s critical that you “bring your salespeople to the table in the evaluation phase.” You can make the final decision, though you should involve your sales team in the buying process. “If it attracts your salespeople then you’re onto a winning tool,” said Mets. Additionally, you need to have a mobile version of whatever tool (i.e., piece of software) you’re buying. “You’re out of the game,” if your software is not mobile.
In sum, Mets’ playbook for using data to drive rental sales growth hinges on how you use data to become a trusted advisor. First, you must choose a system, with your sales team, to house that key data. Next, you must curate that data over time (e.g., residuals on equipment, operating cost per hour) to produce expert insights for your customers. Finally, you need to bring these insights to your customers to help inform their decision making. By helping them make informed decisions with data, you’ve built trust, loyalty, and cleared the runway for future sales opportunities with that customer.