Customer Asset Identification - Step 1 - Data Gathering

Last year at this time I spoke at the AED conference in Las Vegas. I spoke on using data to develop strategic sales plans, I called it “A Granular Data Driven Approach to Strategic Sales”. One of the key elements of the topic was the need to and value in understanding all the equipment in your customers’ fleet.

Through the event I was able to start conversations with several people on the topic. One such conversation started with Greg Helfrich at ELRUS in Calgary. In his response to a short follow up survey he mentioned the Asset Identification project they conducted was one of the best uses of time they had done in recent years.

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I gave Greg a call to learn more about the project they ran and what they learned from it. The conversation was fantastic, Greg and his team gained significant insights into their market but also into their sales organization.

I was surprised to learn that the project took less time than you might expect. Much of the information collection took them about 80 hours. Largely the information was collected by meeting with each sales rep. One of the reps was even able to list off about 600 pieces of equipment from memory! Don’t we all wish we had a memory like that!

Some reps had been keeping lists already of their customer’s equipment of all brands, they commented that it helped them when taking calls for parts, and other daily communication with their customers.

In all the company identified around 3000 pieces of equipment of all brands and entered them in their business system. In addition to, make and model, theoretical production volume and actual production volume was collected as was the type of material.

Then the analysis began.

The first thing they were surprised to learn was their market share was not what they anticipated, it was higher and lower than estimates in almost every case. Next, they also realized the competitors they had focused on were not always the real competition, quiet under-the-radar competitors had a significant market share.

Second, just from running the data collection process, a clear distinction between the sales approach each rep was taking could be made.  Combining sales history and the rep’s knowledge allowed Greg to assess the strengths and weaknesses of each approach and coach them for greater success.  Certainly, they learned increased asset knowledge improved sales performance.

Finally gathering this information and starting to understand, in more detail, their market position allowed Greg and his team to strengthen their relationship with their OEMs. The manufacturers recognized that the organization was professional, knowledgeable and driving continuous improvement in sales but also parts and service. Even more reason for them to invest time, energy and money into the ELRUS business.

The next step in this process for ELRUS is to identify the model year, serial number and condition of the equipment to assist in parts inventory planning and sales training.

In my next post I’ll cover some of the opportunities that came from analyzing the customer fleet data.


If you’re a sales rep or sales manager, do you know what’s in your market?

Is there value in running a similar exercise?