My Sales and Marketing journey began in a great country called Sultanate of Oman. It was a role model sales team in the Middle East back in 1997 selling Automobile and industrial lubricants. It was a team that was envied by the rest of the oil, tyre and battery sales and service people in the country. Everything revolves round empowerment and trust in employeeswhich leads to Win-Win situation for both, the employees and the organisation.
It was a systematic team which sold lubricants like hot cake!. It was a holistic team which planned fantastic marketing plan, merchandising, (which decorated the market with the point of sales items).A team which also took care of debt collection and last but not the least which was always safety minded and worked like a team-four man army.
When there was no internet facility with the customers - small time retailers, Garages, oil change shops and filling station, catering to around 500 retail customers, 90 filling stations and travelling about 5000 kms by the sales executives in a month was a hurricane task and the way the team had made it, was a history which was talked about in the entire gulf countries. Various teams visited to see how the model works and then went back and implemented in their countries. I was proud to be one of the sales executives who learnt sales from the grass roots.
Selling in an atmosphere where there was not much of communication channels other than a phone which again was not all the customers had one. Reaching them and conveying it to them about our planned sales visit was again a challenge for the sales team. The following key things which enabled the sales team to make it possible.
Planning and execution is nothing but application of thoughts, analysis, imagination and judgment. Setting high targets makes one to get more in terms of sales volume. Besides the excellent sales strategies, the team had good execution skills to implement as to when the consumer promotion should start, how and what consumer promotion to implement, so that the company can reap the benefits besides the trade.
Empowerment and trust has to go hand in hand. There is no point in giving empowerment without trust. Encourage open and informal talk, listen to the new ideas and give constructive feedback. Let the sales team make their own judgment, support them and take joint decision to execute their ideas.
The sales team had good ideas and excellent dealers targets designed for the dealers to perform sales every quarter. To motivate the dealers, they were awarded prizes for achieving the sale targets. The management had trust in the sales team to make their own calls in designing the quarterly sales targets and the sales team were empowered to design within the set parameters.
Team work improves process and produces results faster through sharing of knowledge, information and ideas between the team members. The team had a good leader who understood the team and made it a point to meet them whenever a decision had to be taken with regards to introduction of a new product range or any price change of the product to be introduced in the market.
A well planned proposed team meeting with the agenda was sent to the team so that the team could come prepared for the meeting. After a proper brain storming once the objective of the meeting was met, a constructive decision was taken in consultation with the sales team.
From the above story, it reinforces that the amount of Team work, empowerment and belief that the company had on the sales team was amazing. Since the front line sales team was constantly in touch with the market, the team gave valuable information to the management which helped the management to make crucial decision for the benefit of the company as a whole.
Ideas which can be incorporated into New Zealand setting
The above business can also be adopted in New Zealand with the introduction of flexible timings to visit the oil change/WOF stations for the customer’s convenience. The oil change/ WOF stations staff should be empowered to operate the outlets which would be convenient for the customers and this in turn would benefit the organisation sales too.
Presently the customers visit the oil change/WOF to get their cars serviced/WOF mostly during the weekends since the outlets close by 5 pm during the weekdays. For the convenience of the customers, during weekdays, the oil change companies and WOF station should start working late in the afternoon say from 2 pm onwards until 10 pm. Besides catering to oil change and WOF, the companies should also have tie up with other related business like auto parts supplies to enable the customer to have their work done under one roof. Working as a team with flexible timings would benefit the organisation goal as a whole.
Alternatively, in New Zealand we have quite a number of service stations selling fuel. Since they have their own branded lubricants, they could also have an additional business of oil change and WOF within their premises.
By proper planning and execution, oil companies can also develop franchise business-‘QUICK LUBE CENTRES’ and sell the business to individuals, who are qualified automobile engineers. This would generate more employment in the country. If the franchise business is run by individuals, then they can cater to the needs of the customers by opening late hours during week days which would facilitate the motorist to visit the outlets in the evening after their office work.
I thank Dr. Bernie, Frey for his guidance.
I sincerely thank all my seniors, colleagues, other stake holders like the product delivery team and rest of the team. With their support and training, I learnt selling and marketing from the grass roots in my previous company.