You work for 3M, a major Fortune 500 company that manufactures, markets and sells products that make lives better, easier and more complete. 3M is organized into 5 different business groups: Consumer, Electronics and Energy, Health Care, Industrial, and Safety and Graphics. Working in the Automotive Division (AD) which is in the Industrial Business Group (IBG), you are a highly accomplished sales professional selling AD’s general line of products directly to Automotive Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM’s) like General Motors, Ford, etc. For the past few years, you have really enjoyed your job and have consistently exceeded expectations despite some tough market conditions. A new higher level job was just posted in your division which involves selling a new innovative product to a specific market segment. You talk to your manager, decide to apply and are then granted an interview. Due to your stellar and consistent track record you are offered the position and accept. Now you are a sales professional focused on selling one of your division’s innovative products into a new market. Congratulations!
Who is the Customer?
The customer is a large company, Snazzy Car Rental, that operates in the major rental car market which includes companies such as National, Hertz, Enterprise, Budget etc. The sales growth opportunity for your product is immense and the financial benefit to the customer could be the same. Your primary role is to facilitate the journey your customer takes to realize that benefit. The key decision maker you will meeting with is Bob Jenkins, Director of Fleet Operations. The Director of Fleet Operations is responsible for the entire “life cycle” of the fleet which includes purchase, upkeep and resale. Some key elements that Bob finds valuable in attaining his goals are managing downtime, monitoring trade-in value, ensuring a warranty, and minimizing the need for any special car cleaning.
Bob has a real passion for automobiles dating back to his youth. His father taught him the value of taking care of cars. He still remembers his dad telling him “take care of your car and it will take care of you.” So it seems fitting that Bob should be in his role now taking care of an entire fleet of thousands of cars. Bob has agreed to meet with you at the end of January before he heads out on a 6-week national tour of his Snazzy Dealers, an annual event for Bob. Bob noted that “if you give him a glimpse of the product’s potential for Snazzy, Bob agreed to meet with you again in March to review a personal proposal.
To sell your product you must properly convey the product’s value proposition. In all selling situations, you have either direct competition or indirect competition. Direct competition implies that you are selling a product that has a direct substitute (another “alternative”). With indirect competition you are selling against a “non-like” alternative which, in this case, is the choice of using nothing. In essence, you are selling a product that is purely additive in cost. Thus, your challenge is to identify and convey clearly to the customer what the total applied cost is of using our product. Price is only one component of total applied cost. You can identify the total applied cost by asking questions and listening to the answers. In this case, you help the customer see that there is value in using your product versus their current process of using nothing at all.
From your background research, you know that one of the major issues Bob (and other rental car firms) faces with his fleet is a “ding.” Dings can occur at high speed on highways when small aggregate material (i.e., sand/pebbles), kicked up or dropped by a preceding vehicle, strikes a front-facing surface of the trailing vehicle. Dings can also be scrapes or scratches from close encounters in parking lots. Dings may occur on trunk ledges, bumpers, hoods, around headlights, external rear view mirrors. One of the highest wear areas for rental vehicle is the trunk ledge given all the luggage going in and out of the trunk.
Dings cause cars to go into shops for repair, which causes downtime because while the rental vehicle is in for repair, it is not being rented. In the shop = no rent = no revenue. Dings mar brand image. In reality, the rental vehicle itself is a major part of a firm’s overall brand. Thus upkeep and aesthetics of rental vehicles are important.
Imagine you are walking through a Snazzy parking lot looking for a car to select. You then notice several cars with dings on the front of the car. Or as you open the trunk to put your luggage in, you see a number of scratches and dings on the trunk ledge. What would your impression be of the rental car company? Perhaps you would be wondering what other maintenance items might be subpar…in short, it would likely tarnish the company’s brand. Dings impair resale/trade-in value. After the fleet cars reach a certain point, typically a certain number of miles or years of service, the cars are auctioned off in a sale or traded-in for new models. Scratches, blemishes, dings can reduce the value of the vehicle and thus the financial return to the rental car company.
Value Selling Cost Data Collection
Establishing a cost baseline of their current situation is critical in the sales process. For instance, what exactly is the total cost to repair a ding from a vehicle? How much time does it take? What is the labor rate/cost? How much does it cost to transport a vehicle to/from repair facility? How much revenue does a car generate per day/per hour?
There is a cost to change and typically change is met with resistance. Over time, customers grow very comfortable with their processes and procedures. Their maintenance workers need to be trained to use the product; operating manuals need to be re-written. Given the resistance to change, the cost to change, it is important that you have a compelling and comprehensive rationale for your customer.
Your company’s Marketing and Product Development Team has just introduced a new product called 3M Scotchgard-Pro Series Paint Protection Film. This exciting new product was designed specifically for protecting motorized vehicles from incurring costly damages. It is already being sold in the automotive aftermarket as an option for new car buyers. The product has been selling extremely well in that space.
Now you are leading your company’s foray into the Major Rental Car market. Much of what your company has learned in the Automotive dealer/aftermarket can be applied to your situation.
The total applied cost concept is a very important concept in professional sales and you need to gather the appropriate information so you can help your customer understand it. The BBSO call is the first call in the process where you will learn all that you need for the second interchange during March (during the Baylor Business Value Analysis (BBVA)). Total applied cost is not just the additive price of the product. You also need to overcome objections of “historic comfort.” Many customers have little perceived incentive to change. If they are set in their ways and believe “nothing is broken,” their perspective may be “why fix it?”
You must ask good questions, listen to identify total applied cost components (hidden costs) and manage the change process. In essence, you are creating demand. You need to be well prepared for your sales call. These customer can be challenging; however, they can also be very loyal. By helping Snazzy understand true total applied cost and how our product can vastly improve their bottom line, you can establish real customer value as a solution provider and not be just a sales representative selling a product.
Your objective is gather the appropriate information from Bob Jenkins, the Fleet Operations Director, at Snazzy Rental Cars to convert to using 3M™ Scotchgard™-Pro Series Paint Protection Film. Success in this call is to gain a commitment from Bob to meet with you again in March (at the BBVA) to review a proposed pilot and establish a roll-out plan.
In an effort to increase your probability of success in securing a pilot project with Snazzy Rental Cars, focus your efforts on three different options/packages to Bob Jenkins at Snazzy Car Rental:
- Hood only
- Trunk Ledge only
- Combination package (Hood & Trunk Ledge)