Build a Sales Force for Success

The best run and most profitable equipment rental companies all have certain things in common, and perhaps the most important element is a successful and effective outside sales force. Depending on the number of locations an operation has, the number of outside sales people will vary.

A dedicated outside salesperson or sales force is a common trait of the best-run rental operations I’ve evaluated. If an equipment rental company is generating $1 million in rental revenue or more (what I call “critical mass”) and is looking to grow, it should employ an outside salesperson in addition to its “inside” sales staff.

For one reason or another, many rental company owners are reluctant to employ an outside salesperson. There really is no excuse for not having an outside sales force if a company has critical mass. With that in mind, employing a full-time, outside salesperson is big investment in many ways and it takes time to cultivate the right person for the job. This person should be a self-starter, highly motivated, outgoing and personable, hard-working, optimistic and a team player. Give the salesperson and the process adequate time and attention to succeed.

A good sales orientation and ongoing sales program must be in place prior to hiring a salesperson or starting an outside sales presence. Realistic goals and expectations should be set and fully understood by all parties. It’s an ongoing process and a two-way street between management and the outside sales staff. Make sure the salesperson has a solid understanding of the job description, expectations and potential for income. They must “buy in” to the program and be motivated by it.

One primary issue for rental companies pondering an outside sales presence is how a salesperson should be paid. The best programs and most successful rental companies with outside salespeople have a combination of base salary, commission and a vehicle.

The base salary for a rental company that employs an outside salesperson is generally in the range of $25,000 to $45,000, depending on certain factors such as company size, market size, type of company, volume, etc., but the majority of a salesperson’s income should be derived from commissions. The focus and role of an outside salesperson is to generate additional revenues and cultivate new customers while maintaining good relationships with existing customers in their market area (and growing those existing accounts). Keep in mind when setting up the pay structure that every position in the company must add value to the company first, then the employee benefits from it.

An outside sales team should also be involved in the communities in which they serve. This includes being involved in local associations, clubs and attending industry-specific meetings. Salespeople should also be involved in the marketing efforts of the rental company. After all, it is the outside sales staff that has direct, daily interaction with the marketplace and they will have meaningful input on how to reach new customers through advertising and marketing.

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