By Mark Moore
The shock waves due to the global pandemic haven’t been lost on the agricultural sector. Supply chain issues, short stocks of new equipment, and record demand in all segments are just some of the issues dealerships have had to face over the past several months.
Randy Tye, who served as vice president of inventory management for Mazergroup, dealt with these issues first-hand. Overseeing the largest New Holland dealership group in North America, one that encompassed 18 locations and more than 300 employees across Manitoba and southeastern Saskatchewan, Tye noted a significant shift in the way customers were purchasing equipment, and he needed his salesmen to pivot to those changes.
“What we really learned is that we need to be looking further down the line for equipment to sell,” Tye says. “Salesmen need to be thinking what their customers are going to need a year from now. There are very few who are just going to a lot and buying a new tractor.” That long-range forecasting includes new and used equipment, as well as parts.
“We started putting more emphasis on pre-selling, even in the parts and services planning,” he says. “We were making sure we were reaching out to people because during COVID especially there was little to no face-to-face interaction.”
That’s a lot of information to process, and it can be overwhelming, especially in a dealership group with such a large footprint. Tye says software that manages both the customer relationship portion of the business and managing dealer inventory is critical. And both need to be integrated to work together.
Customers can search for equipment across the region, or across the globe, all from the comfort of their desk. And dealers need to know what inventory is available, and current price trends, in order to meet a customer inquiry. While this isn’t necessarily a new phenomenon, the speed at which these transactions take place has changed. It’s no longer a few phone calls or checking with several dealerships, a process that could take hours or even days if the right person doesn’t answer the phone. Today, it’s getting on a computer, or smartphone, to check inventory, review prices, and write an offer.
A system for dealers
Tye implemented IronHQ into Mazergroup’s dealerships. IronHQ is a unique Customer Relationship Management Software and sales force management platform that’s tailored to serve agricultural equipment dealers, especially those with multiple locations.
Here’s how it works: It’s a cloud-based system that provides total visibility, allowing dealers to manage both customer and equipment lifecycles. Dealers can monitor the entire sales pipeline, from leads to revenue. Sales teams have real-time information that can help identify trends, improve the sales process and ensure accurate inventory management.
Tye says one key value of the system is the ability to generate a quote, quickly and accurately. “Instead of a quote going across several desks, it can be shared instantly. That’s especially useful if a salesman is working remotely. Because we cover such a vast geographical area, we would be hard-pressed to do it any other way than online.”
Working with customers can get complicated, especially when working remotely or across several dealerships. Consider a salesperson is juggling information that can include: a new manufacturer’s program, updated discounts and incentives, trade allowance, reconditioning costs, warranty information, and transportation costs. Leaving out one or more of these critical pieces of information can be detrimental to the sales process and a transaction’s profitability.
As a central depository of all sales data, IronHQ can accurately develop a sales quote. “It does all the calculations instantly so it is faster and more accurate because we can pull all our relevant information without having to manually enter it,” Tye says.
In addition to the customer’s name, IronHQ can also track equipment records. For example, at trade-in all relevant information about the machine is in the system, so an appraisal can be done without the need to start from scratch. “Having a database that can track customer equipment can also allow the salesperson to track down hard-to-find equipment so we can alert our customer to possible buying interest,” Tye says.
Built for the industry
With more than 4 decades in the industry, Tye has seen a lot of systems come and go. His main beef? Systems developed without the ag industry’s input. “I’ve been to demonstrations where the CRM software couldn’t differentiate between a precision drill for seeding or a drill for making holes in the wall,” he says. “It’s critical these systems are developed with the ag dealership in mind.”
So when using the system to send out emails to customers, they are on-point. And menus and interfaces are a seamless addition to any ag dealership. “It’s important that any tool work, and IronHQ is a valuable tool that works for ag dealers.”
Randy Tye has spent his entire career in the agricultural equipment industry, working in a variety of sales and management positions and with major equipment OEMs. Tye recently brought his industry expertise to the Iron Solutions sales team.
SPONSORED: IRON Solutions