October 2013

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Page 41 of 59

Management Keeping A Stern Eye on Sales Tom Stern, general sales manager at West Side Tractor, sat down with CED to talk about his views and methods in the business of selling equipment – and ultimately, taking care of the customer. By Dan Brown Constant communication with the customer base is key to West Side Tractor's long-term success, says Tom Stern, general sales manager at the John Deere dealership based in Naperville, Ill. In the last two years, West Side has implemented new modes of communication, primarily e-communications. The dealership actively uses several electronic media outlets to promote its sales and product support messages. With regularity, the company sends e-blasts out to customers and prospects, advertising used equipment, parts and service specials, new products and company news. West Side also has an active Facebook page with 1,000-plus followers, and YouTube is a staple medium for showing off product demonstrations, the company's 50th anniversary celebration, and product promotions. "When you click on the YouTube link on our website homepage (westsidetractorsales.com), it gets you into 26 of these videos," said Stern. "One demonstrates the John Deere 764 High-Speed Dozer (with almost 200,000 video views). We've got another showing how we work with one of our suppliers on integrated grade controls for dozers. "With a growing used equipment fleet, we need to make sure the machines and attachments are updated daily and promoted effectively. We use an outside service called Machinery Trader that links to our website with all the current listings. We also have a similar database for lawn and garden equipment," Stern added. "Customer feedback is very important to us," he said. "On the website, we have a customer survey form available to submit testimonials, concerns, etc. We want to make sure that customers have found useful information [on the site], learned more about our company and feel that it is one more way to interact with West Side." Compensation for Sales People West Side compensates sales people with a base salary and incentives based on gross margin that is acceptable to company management. And the company offers specific incentives for certain used equipment. "We have what we call a Hot List of equipment that is machinery the company wants to move quickly," said Stern. Sales people are given quotas, and they are reviewed twice yearly. "The sales people have some input on quotas," Stern told CED, "but we also use that invisible guiding hand that says, "OK, is that territory going to be as hot as it was the year before? Or is it going to be hotter than the year before? You don't want to have quotas out there that a guy can't get to." In a deal for multiple pieces of equipment, sales compensation works the same way it does for single pieces. West Side does not create special incentives – or disincentives – for sales people who do major deals. "A lot of times in multiple equipment deals the margin gets squeezed, and margin is how the sales people are paid," Stern explained. Another factor that has squeezed (continued on page 42) 40 | www.cedmag.com | Construction Equipment Distribution | October 2013 40_Tom_Stern_Feature_KP.indd 40 9/27/13 1:58 PM

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