John Hicks, Regional Sales Manager
You have to be in love to make a lasting commitment, so let’s do it, let’s get engaged. With over thirty years in the Material Handling Industry, I have to come right out and say it – I love what I do. I am committed, and I want you to be too, but you have to be willing to say “I do.” Of course, to make a long-term commitment successful, you have to be willing to put in the work, you have to be willing to listen and you have to be engaged.
In my travels as a Regional Sales Manager for Big Joe, one of my favorite things to do is lead dealer training events. I firmly believe that product knowledge is a powerful tool for the sales rep and the more I can give, the better off we all are. Fact is, today’s Material Handling Industry is a very dynamic business with changes and advancements happening almost daily. When I started oh so long ago, we were lucky to see one or two new trucks rolled out in a year. This year Big Joe introduced seven at PROMAT in Chicago. When you add up all the usual product updates, maintenance bulletins and factor in new hires who need to be brought up to speed, it’s clear that training has become a big part of my job!
John Hicks engages a customer at the PROMAT show.
Like I said, I love to do it and I am fully engaged. Things change faster than ever and I believe it is my responsibility, not only to the dealership but to the end users, to keep the sales reps up to speed. A well-trained sales rep is better equipped to serve their customers, their dealership and ultimately the Big Joe brand. There is always a positive reaction after we hold a training session. The frequency of questions from the reps goes up, the quality of their questions goes up and it has a notable impact that increases the share of mind in their territory. More importantly, they become a valuable asset to their customers.
Initially, most reps have no idea that we offer such a wide range of solutions orientated equipment because of the rapid expansion of the Big Joe brand and the industry’s growth in general. You really can’t blame them if you didn’t train them. They don’t know that Big Joe has some of the shortest lead times in the industry. They often haven’t a clue about our reputation for product reliability or that we have a stout product line that delivers value to niche markets across many industrial, commercial and retail segments. A key point in my presentation is always:
You know we make electric pallet jacks, do you know we make 6 models ranging from 2,500lb. to 6,000lb. capacities?
You know we make a walkie stacker, did you know we have 12 different task orientated styles?
Are you aware that the Joey family of task support vehicles has grown to include 5 models?
John Hicks conducts a training session at a Dealership.
When you see the lightbulb switch on in a sales rep’s head, it is a beautiful thing. They begin to notice applications at their customer’s facilities that are using inefficient manual equipment for heavy loads, or very expensive riding forklifts when a walkie stacker would do the job better at a fraction of the cost. Where they were once walking past a narrow aisle to get to the loading dock, they now recognize an opportunity. At this point they are no longer order takers, they are solution providers for their customers.
I want to create an engaged sales rep who can apply their product knowledge to a customer’s problem and put the right truck in their application. I empower them with the knowledge that we are where the applications are. There’s an old saying, “Fishing’s easy when you’ve got good bait.” When I have the chance to show them how many options we offer and how the trucks can be used to streamline operations for their customers, I know I can develop Big Joe advocates at that dealership. My goal is to add depth to the team’s product knowledge so that they can become educated professionals and bring that advocacy to their customers.
Ultimately, a well-trained sales force delivers real benefits to both directions of the product transaction. Their dealership sells more equipment faster to a more diverse customer base while the end user buys the truck they need for the tasks at hand without complication or misunderstanding.
My friends say I should be committed for working in the material handling industry for over thirty years, I tell them I always was and if you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life.