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Business Management

The Need for Speed

And Other Well-Worn Cliches

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I love when I get to use the absurd to make a point almost as much as I love to use real world stories to do the same. This month I get to do both.
I got a call the other day from a friend from church who I’ve know for a little more than two years. He asked, “Do you have a business called Otis Hackett Group?”

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He’s been to my office! How can he not know that?

After some digging, we determined that way back in 2004, long before we’d met, I had inquired about having some business cards printed up at the print shop where he works. According to his notes (yes he took notes), we had spoken about different layouts, colors, etc., and we’d narrowed it down to a few choices — this was six years ago!

More digging made it pretty obvious that we did quite a bit of work on the project. So why didn’t we ever consummate a deal? I honestly can’t remember. His notes indicate that we spoke on three occasions, I left two messages for him, and he had emailed me three proofs to look at over the course of the project. He had also saved a number of price quotes. All these facts were kept in what he called his prospecting system.

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Now the all-to-familiar problem we face in the bike biz starts to tumble together in my head. When I started asking him about his system, it seemed to have all the needed elements to function properly, just like most of the stuff available to us.

Now for the absurd: Six years? Are you kidding me? Do you think getting back to me quicker might have gotten him the deal?
He has a prospecting system designed to do everything but that doesn’t do anything (read that again). The system captures all the “facts” of the project, but what it doesn’t do is hold anyone accountable to do any of the actual work.

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I know that many of you have periodic meetings with your sales teams to see what’s in the pipeline. Twenty years ago, those meetings were the staple of solid sales teams — they absolutely helped sales managers project into the immediate future. In this day and age, those concepts need the added element of speed. In my case study, six years was a wee bit too slow, right? Today, five minutes might not be fast enough!

Most of our OEMs have a way to get Internet leads to you. Most of those leads are initiated by a customer currently surfing the web — point-and-click, trigger-happy customer who happens to have a few spare minutes! If I don’t get back to this guy before something or someone else manages to break through the pop-ups and keyword ads bombarding his eyeballs, I don’t have a chance!

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All I hoped to establish with this month’s installment is a realization that our follow-up systems, regardless of how comprehensive they are or how many bells and whistles they have, don’t make sales. I actually hope it makes the reader uncomfortable. In the next few installments, I’ll be covering how to create and manage processes that get the most from whichever prospecting system you use. Underlying all of the discussion will be the need for speed and how we can design our processes to respond faster.

For now, please take some time and look at your process. Don’t look at what it is supposed to do, but at what it’s really helping you do. One of my clients purchased a pretty high-dollar CRM system, and after about six months with it, he told me, “Before using (insert name of system here), my follow-up system didn’t work. Now I have a system that costs me a few hundred a month and doesn’t work.”
Don’t be that dealer. 

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Otis Hackett is the founder of Otis Hackett Group. OHG provides general management services for powersports dealers across the U.S. The OHG team brings real-world experience, having all been motorcycle dealership employees working on the front lines of the industry every day. Visit www.otishackett.com or e-mail [email protected]. Join us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter!

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