Ideas are dime a dozen, but putting them into practice is priceless. I casually threw out an idea to some salespeople and was a little disappointed that even the creative, intelligent ones let it drift over their heads. Then I got an e-mail from Cameron Hallows. It seems the idea had hit him between the eyes and made him think. Then, in true entrepreneurial fashion, he put it to work for him.
The idea. When we think of teams, we tend to think only of the people in the dealership. However, there are other members on your team, such as your manufacturer and customers. You are all working toward the same goal: to keep the farmer in business.
Imagine having your top farmers, manufacturer and dealership staff meet to discuss issues of mutual concern on a regular basis. What would that do for your positioning and status in the farm business community?
Cameron Hallows of Mason Machinery, a first-class New Holland dealership in Aurora, Utah, is the first ag equipment consultant to put this idea into practice. Cam is relatively new to sales. He is smart and is very proud to be a cowboy. He has a great personality even though he sometimes appears shy and reserved. He inspires confidence in people.
His first e-mail outlined what he planned to do, together with the reasoning for each step. He asked for advice. He seemed unsure of himself and in need of moral support. I e-mailed him my perspective and encouraged him. I was holding my breath. Will someone finally use this idea? Honestly, I thought he would likely abandon the idea when he saw how much work was involved and how much confidence he would need to pull it off.
Everything went well. Here is the second e-mail that Cam sent me:
“I wanted to give you an update on my meeting held last night. My area consists mainly of cattle people, so I invited some of the most influential cattle people in my area. Eleven showed and three others could not make it but will be at the next meeting. I had Allen, Eric, Chase, Terry and Damon attend from our dealership. Eric welcomed everyone
and thanked them for coming and for their business. He gave a brief history about me and introduced me. I thanked Eric and Allen for sponsoring the dinner and then went into my presentation.
“The farmers really took hold of my idea to better each other and learn from each other. After the dinner speaker, I had everyone introduce themselves and tell about their operations. I was amazed at the responses. The first gave a great speech that ended with “The people that show up run the world and you won’t learn anything by doing nothing!’ That set the mood for everyone else. People opened up and told of great experiences
and trials. Then it came to Allen Mason.
“Allen told a story I had never heard before about how Mason Machinery almost went broke and how a group of dealers got together and helped him stay in business. He expressed how equipment people struggle just like farmers do and how we need one another to get by. Boy, did that open the floodgates!
“One farmer said, ‘I told my dad I did not want to come—it was just going to be a dealership promoting itself. And I asked, Why is Cameron doing this and why is Mason doing this? They’re equipment people; they don’t understand what we go through. But right now I am in complete amazement. When Allen was talking and told about his struggles and hardships, I thought, Holy moley, he does know what it’s like and he does understand. That brought a whole new perspective and I don’t know a single dealership in this state that offers what you guys offer. Everyone else tries to sell us something and move on, and here stands Cameron not trying to sell me one thing except his time and attention and I think that is awesome.’
“It was a huge success and I can’t wait for the next one. One farmer called me this morning to thank me again and he said, ‘I know you do a lot for me. You always go out of your way to help me and provide me with stuff like last night, and no one else does that. So what can I do to help you?’
“That call meant a lot to me. I know that there are 11 men who view me differently now than they did 24 hours ago.”
Frank Lee is an author and sales trainer who specializes in the ag equipment industry. You can subscribe to his free monthly Ezine for Managers, a newsletter sent via e-mail. To receive it, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
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