The ABCs of Sales Campaigns - Aftermarket
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The ABCs of Sales Campaigns

By Ron Slee

Article Date: 07-01-2008
Copyright(C) 2008 Associated Equipment Distributors. All Rights Reserved.


Thoughtful preparation is critical for success in your parts and service campaigns.

Many of the campaigns that are run from the parts and service departments suffer from a similar problem: incomplete or inadequate planning. That can easily be overcome if a simple preparation checklist is followed.
  1. Define overall program objectives.
     
  2. Identify products to be promoted.
     
  3. Define the specific goals.
     
  4. Determine the timetable.
     
  5. Plan marketing strategy.
     
  6. Prepare special incentives.
     
  7. Create training programs.
     
  8. Order required inventory.
     
  9. Define customer plans/actions.
     
  10. Set up advertising needs/costs.
     
  11. Establish promotion schedule.
     
  12. Obtain co-op programs.
     
  13. Create reporting media status.
     
  14. Create promotional pricing.
     
  15. Set up features and benefits.
     
  16. Publish promotion plan.
     
  17. Conduct kick-off meeting.
     
  18. Execute the plan.
     
  19. Do post program evaluation.
     
If we set out what it is we want to do in each of the steps above and then create the plan, assign the different tasks to specific people and then execute the plan we will succeed. I see many campaigns in which staff who are talking to customers are not trained or knowledgeable about the features and benefits of the products or service we are promoting. That does not lead to a successful campaign.Special pricing is also important but it has to be set up smartly. Instead of just reducing the price of the items being promoted we need to change something else in order to justify the price. We need to have special quantities, or special purchase opportunities, or special terms and financing, or special shipment and delivery.Something else in the transaction has to change along with the price or else you are just telling the customer that your price was too high in the beginning. This is like the specials in the retail world - special this weekend: 50 percent off. We have all caught on to this plan. The price was increased and then discounted as the special. Not always, but enough to make us suspicious. It's not the image that we want of ourselves in the market, is it? Don't forget that if it is only the price that changes, all we are doing is selling products at a lower price. Is that the only tool we have available to sell our wares? How could we want that image in the market?Another condition that I see often is that we don't have adequate inventory in place prior to the campaign start date. We wait to see how successfully we will be able to sell the items before we express our confidence in ourselves. Imagine having a campaign and running out of inventory on the products that we are promoting.In our sales training programs we talk about preparation as the first step. We have to perform research on the products, on the market, on our customers, and our competition. We have to know what the environment is in which we are conducting a campaign. In order to succeed in a campaign or in anything in life we need to set objectives. Meeting goals and reaching your targets are the only true reflection of success, aren't they? Think about preseason football. Every team has the same goal - to win the Superbowl. But only one will succeed.Extremely important to our success in all sales activities and selling is the ability to ask questions. The most common concern in the selling function is that by asking questions you will lose control of the process. Nothing could be further from the truth. It is through skillful questioning and listening that we will truly be able to satisfy the customer needs.Putting together a promotion plan for the year in advance is a logical and practical approach to business. Create excitement in the office about what you are doing. Isn't that really what we want with a campaign? It is not just about creating special value for our customers; it is about the employees as well. The employees are the ones who create and provide the service value that the customer sees and feels. That is what the customer enjoys and appreciates and that is what keeps them coming back. And that is what we should be about, isn't it?Loyal customers being serviced by talented and caring employees is how the dealerships will succeed. That is the brand image I think we should have in the market. Do you agree? Well let's start to run successful sales campaigns and have some fun. It is time to get with it.
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