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How to Compete with your Local Market Goliath

March 10, 2017

Are you ready to reclaim your market from the dominant local player? Here are 10 action items to help you take stock of your company’s resources, understand your market and set daily sales initiatives before your team hits the pavement.

There have been many sweeping trends in the industry over the last few years, but none as important to the future of your business as the revenue opportunities away from airports. Growing your top-line revenue through a local market sales effort no longer revolves around the questions of why or when, but how to do it and where the opportunities are.

Some of the best airport operators have taken the initiative to grow locally and have encountered many obstacles, but none as challenging as competing with “Goliath,” your dominant or established local market operator.

Implementing these 10 action items will begin to give you an understanding of how to compete with an established local market operator. Your team will be better prepared to avoid potential pitfalls, appreciate the important daily activities to promote your business, develop your team’s sales ability and strengthen their resolve.

1) ARE YOU READY?

Before embarking on an outside sales and marketing campaign, do some soul searching on your personal motivation regarding new sales initiatives.

Are you the type of leader who loves the chase of an idea?

Have you ever given a “battlefield “assignment to a team member, but forgot to recognize the results? Have you ever recognized an opportunity in an article and then emailed it to your team to create excitement, but learned that their inboxes were clogged from the other 12 articles you already sent?

In short, do you have the drive to see a successful sales initiative from start to finish?

If you’re not happy with some of your answers, don’t worry. Most likely you are creative and have a knack for motivating people. The challenge, however, for these types of leaders is that there is not a new initiative that they do not like. This unbridled enthusiasm at times can cause team members to take on new initiatives with skepticism.

2) IS YOUR TEAM ON BOARD?

If you’re ready, the next step is to make sure your team is prepared to take on the challenge of a new sales initiative within your local market.

  • Do I have the team in place to get this off the ground?
  • If a sales management opportunity were posted internally would my team get excited?
  • Do we provide the type of labor and budgetary support for our managers to deliver an outside sales initiative?
  • How involved are we with the local business community? Can we leverage any of our relationships?

Share the responses with your most senior manager. If the responses are in favor of a local market sales initiative or are in the interests of developing your team, feel good about your sales efforts.

3) UNDERSTAND THE COMPETITION

The next step is to understand what makes the Goliath in your marketplace successful.

  • How big is the marketplace and how many players are out there?
  • What does my competitor do that we do not do?
  • What services and benefits do they offer to the community?
  • What do we know about their environment and sales culture?

Every market and every operator will provide different answers to questions one and two, but the common denominators of any great business that dominates their market space is that their team has an expectation of delivering results, and everyone has a motivational driver to keep them on track.

4) APPLY INCENTIVE, RECOGNITION, AND ACCOUNTABILITY

Top performing companies set high expectations for their representatives because they’ve implemented a set of standards, established tracking and measurement tools, and developed ongoing training. The best sales-driven cultures have team members motivated by incentive, recognition, and accountability.

  • Do we have standards for local market growth and achievable goals?
  • Can we track our progress?
  • How are we training our team on the concepts of marketing and the tactics of sales?
  • What is their incentive for winning back our marketplace?
  • How will we recognize top performance?
  • How will we hold low performers accountable?

Team members uncomfortable with a new sales process can easily slip back into the day-to-day aspects of the operation because their number of sales calls, appointments, and prospecting roles were not defined. Giving managers a specific responsibility list will keep them accountable for higher results.

5) CRAFT YOUR USP

Once a team begins to sell in its local market, many will begin their sales presentations with a negative aspect about a competitor. The team forgets that the product and service they are touting has many advantages, but all the decision-maker hears are the flaws of their current rental car provider. To avoid this pitfall, the management team must craft its Unique Selling Point (USP). A good USP should have a positive aspect of your fleet, a positive aspect of your service, and a universal benefit of your operation:

FLEETSERVICESUNIVERSAL
Diverse car classesExtended hoursLocally owned/operated
Multiple manufacturersMultiple locationsLong-standing mgmt. team

Arming your team with the USP will help their confidence and ensure that your message is consistent. Having your management team co-craft the USP will help with quicker application and buy-in.

6) IMPLEMENT A STEP-BYSTEP SALES PROCESS

Many managers have difficulty prospecting and marketing to their assigned territory because they have lingering questions on what to sell and how to sell it, and in some cases have a questionable belief of the superiority of their product.

To bolster managers’ confidence in their overall presentation, implement a step-by-step sales process that trains managers on how to look for customer needs, discover local decision-makers, respond to objections and clearly state your USP. When setting up a sales process for your managers it is critical to:

  • Incorporate your company’s USP
  • Develop key dialogues that overcome objections and initiate the sale
  • Implement techniques to gain a commitment from a decision-maker

Studies have shown that if a step-by-step process is applied to learning a new skill or changing a behavior, the student will have a higher retention rate of the information. The most effective sales training systems for an outside sales force involve classroom techniques, on-site role-playing and in-field coaching and demonstrations.

If your sales team is struggling with any of these pitfalls, don’t worry—half the battle to higher performance is being aware of opportunities to improve.

The war to re-capture your marketplace occurs and is won in the day-to-day activities of the location manager and the frontline team. The next step is to create a set of daily sales initiatives to keep your efforts on track. It is imperative to involve everyone at your location with the sales cause, regardless of their title or seniority.

7) ASK FOR FUTURE RENTALS

Regardless of the customer’s rental segment, it is critical that at the end of every rental transaction your frontline representative asks for another opportunity to either secure a booking or quote a rate.

Even if the customer does not have short-term plans to rent again, the simple act of asking for future business conveys your sincerity that you want to make future bookings as hassle-free as possible. This will also draw out possible objections customers may have had of your service or product.

To execute this day-to-day sales activity your frontline sales force needs:

  • A service-based sales process that ends with a closing positive step.
  • Clear-cut dialogue to ask for the booking.
  • A system to measure Bookings at Close or “BACs.”
  • Appointment/reservation reminder cards presented at the BAC

8) DETERMINE REVENUE, RENTAL AND NEW BUSINESS GOALS

Your responsibility as an owner or manager is to set monthly and annual goals tied to your daily efforts. Making it a team challenge will help create a sense of urgency to get there. Making it visual will allow your team to gain a greater appreciation of how little activities will add up to greater revenue. Use simple math to create a revenue target and measure it against your competitor’s revenue target. For example, if your location has 50 assigned cars with average utilization of 75 percent with a daily rate of $33.00, then your revenue goal would be $38,363. $38,363 = 50 cars x 31 days in the month x .75 utilization x $33.00 After going through this exercise, work with your team to show the impact of what one or more rentals per day would do to your goal.

Keep your progress posted with a comparison to your nearest competitor. This will help your team members adopt a predatory mindset in your marketplace.

Set the goal in writing. Create a visual thermometer goal with postings of actual results versus the target.

9) READ YOUR LOCAL BUSINESS NEWSPAPER OR DAILY BUSINESS SECTION

Knowledge is power. Local market car rental operators get so tied down with the daily grind that they forget they are a part of a thriving business community.

Whether you are surrounded by small retail businesses, corporations, car rental operations or automotive service businesses, understanding what’s happening can help you anticipate changes, find something in common with customers, and, most importantly, uncover new revenue opportunities.

10) ASSIGN YOUR SALES TEAM MEMBERS A DAILY SALES CALL OUT SHEET

Assigning sales call-outs to your existing customer base will communicate to your market that your sales efforts are not flavor-of-the-month and that your approach is relationship-focused.

This form of communication to your existing relationships is common sense but unfortunately is not common practice. As Woody Allen said, “Eighty percent of success is just showing up.”

Having your frontline sales team involved with this activity communicates urgency and will force them to take a greater sense of ownership with their sales and customer service. This simple activity will let your audience know that you’re there for them.

Becoming Goliath

These are just a few elements of a long list of daily items that your team has to execute to not only compete with but regain market share from your larger competitor. Don’t be apprehensive if you are not yet doing any of these team activities—they can be implemented very quickly.

Incorporating these team elements and daily sales activities will let you compete against your local Goliath and perhaps become one of the dominant forces in your local market.