The Corporate Conundrum

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MFG CEO Declan Gaule offers advice on how your dealership can increase its quota of corporate sales through telephone prospecting.

(This article first appeared in IMI Magazine - July/August issue - download PDF)

With the corporate pool of new cars now representing over 54% of the total UK parc, dealer groups and retailers alike need to place maximum focus on maintaining and growing this unique aspect of the industry.

Fleet was once a dirty word for many of the prestige dealer brands, yet now it has become an integral part of their offering. Long gone are references to “stack ‘em high, sell ‘em cheap” for the volume brands, and the lofty prestige maxim that “we don’t sell to rentals” has been eradicated. Successful automotive retailing in the UK today requires brands to maximise every potential opportunity and the daily rental market has become a key income stream for most.

There are many subtle nuances that go into the make-up of the corporate sector such as pure fleet, business, rental etc. However, it can broadly be defined as any vehicle that is sold to a business-based entity rather than an individual – with the headline ownership resting with that company/entity.

With nearly all UK automotive manufacturers/national sales companies now sporting large and well-trained regional corporate sales teams, and with dealers investing heavily in their in-house local business development managers, the split with respect to who contacts who is incredibly important.

Broadly speaking (and this varies from brand to brand) it is sub-25 car fleets and/or local small businesses that fall under the remit of the dealer, with 25-50 fleets the responsibility of the regional corporate area manager and the 50+ fleets falling under the control of the national corporate account team.

Increasing Corporate Sales

Often labelled the ‘one who doesn’t do weekends’, the modern day local business development manager within a dealership has a very complex and important role given the plethora of tax, legislative and funding options that permeate the corporate sphere.

Due to the sub-25 vehicle nature of the organisations involved, many of the decision makers they liaise with will not be designated fleet managers but may be accountants, facility managers or executive assistants who have many other remits within their role. This makes pitching the pertinent amount of product, legislative and ‘whole life cost’-related data in a meaningful and clear manner a very challenging, but integral, task.

Identifying Decision Makers

The first and arguably most important stage of the process in growing a corporate sales arm is to understand who the key decision makers in an organisation are with regard to its corporate car policy. Next it is crucial to obtain a meeting to better understand their internal vehicle polices and corporate car banding structure.

Online research, in particular LinkedIn, makes it significantly more easy these days to identify the corporate car buying key decision makers in an organisation without having to reach for a Yellow Pages or Thomson Direct!

The next part is where it gets tricky and is the most common reason MFG is approached for help with ‘getting a foot in the door’. Humans love to pursue the path of least resistance – which is why email is the most common method of communication when prospecting. It sidesteps the uncomfortable aspects of making a call to a stranger such as the fear of rejection, not knowing what to say, getting tongue tied etc.

However, given the amount of ‘digital noise’ currently circulating it is a certainty that your corporate prospect will be receiving daily emails alluding to the wonderful nature of your competitor’s products and dealerships – so the likelihood of yours standing out is minimal.

If Emails Don’t Work - What Does?

The telephone is undoubtedly the most important tool at your disposal. The MFG Group runs successful prospecting events throughout the UK, UAE, the Far East, South Africa and Western Europe – and the telephone is at the core of every single prospecting programme. Check out our top tips below to see how you can maximise its potential.

That said, given the busy nature of your target audience there are no guarantees that your first call will generate an appointment so don’t be afraid to keep calling – without becoming a stalker of course! The vast majority of people responsible for corporate car purchasing will welcome relationships with various brands that meet the requirements of their organisation – just make sure that your professionalism puts you at the top of the list!

Corporate Calling - Top Six Tips

  1. Do as much research as you can on the company, through whatever media possible, including having a look at their car park. Try to assess their corporate car requirements in-line with your product offering and select one or two key aspects of your product or service that will benefit them and their needs.

  2. Before dialling remind yourself that this is a legitimate business phone call – you are not a nuisance, and once the topic is established as meaningful and aligned to the prospect’s needs the vast majority of people will welcome your call.

  3. Introduce yourself and where you are calling from first thing and then get to the point of why you are phoning. False rapport building is creepy and annoying – so be professional and courteous.

  4. Don’t be afraid to clearly state that you would welcome the opportunity to meet to discuss potential corporate car requirements.

  5. Offer one or two ways in which you think you or your brand can benefit their corporate car buying arrangement. When presenting any facts or figures make sure they are accurate and irrefutable. If they are not, your hard work and credibility will go up in smoke.

  6. Whilst one hour of your time may not be a problem, these people will be juggling many plates so ensure that your presentation for the meeting corresponds to their needs and not yours. Like most humans they will predominately be of the mindset of ‘what’s in it for me’ so make sure you highlight the benefits of what you can bring to them and not vice versa.

To find out more about how we can help you drive footfall and increase sales with our sales generator events please contact Pita Marroni via pita.marroni@mfg-group.co.uk or call Pita on +44 (0) 7544 761566.