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Auto-Wares ♥ sales-i.

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Here at sales-i, we’re always intrigued to hear just how much we’re making a change and helping our customers. Whether a quick thanks in an email or some glowing feedback, hearing from our users is always incredibly humbling.

Having jumped at the chance to interview one of our customers Shelly Miller, Director of Sales Development at aftermarket powerhouse Auto-Wares last year, we were positively champing at the bit to find out how the team had been getting on since.

SALES-I: Shelly, tell us where sales-i has had the biggest impact at Auto-Wares.

SHELLY M: “Before we had sales-i, there were 75 of our salespeople out on the street with little sales data information at hand. If their customers wanted to know specifics, the team would have to go back to the office to find the answer or request reports. Worse still, they’d have to wait 24 hours to get those answers back to the customer.

“sales-i is giving them talking points that they maybe wouldn’t have had prior. For example, we can see exactly who is buying our rotors but not our brakes and then make sure our sales reps are asking why. It might be that a customer is buying from another vendor that stocks the same brand. We’ve now got complete sales statistics within product categories and lines – right down to individual part numbers.

“We have instant information that is helping us to close more sales and deliver the exceptional customer service we’re known for. Our sales force is able to close more sales on the spot with their customers.”

SALES-I: How has sales-i made an impact at Auto-Wares?

SHELLY M: “sales-i has contributed to a whole host of things. Our time management has been dramatically improved and we’re more organized.

“Our salespeople now have much better time management. sales-i brings organization to their day, week and month when it comes to their planning their calls, call reporting and communication. Having pre-planned their days in sales-i, they know where they’re going and they’re better organized for each customer visit. This level of organization means they can make more calls in a day as they’re better at scheduling themselves which usually leads to more sales.

“Even though the aftermarket industry is down as a whole, we are still able to keep focus and increase sales with the customers that help us keep the lights on. I’m looking at our territory sales managers – the salespeople that are using sales-i out on the street for our wholesale accounts and I feel there has been a positive sales increase amongst those customers despite a down market.

“The impact of sales-i is a hard thing to measure as a whole but I believe that it has to be working because we are all more focused and it has to have something to do with the huge advantages that sales-i has brought to our company.”

SALES-I: What has the response from your sales team been like?

SHELLY M: “Initially, when we first mentioned that we were moving to something like this, we got a lot of groans and they thought Big Brother would be watching their every move. But we let them know that this wasn’t why we invested in sales-i at all and that it was to improve sales and make everyone more money down the line.

“I’d say around 75% of our guys got to the point where they couldn’t live without sales-i very quickly. The rest followed with a little mentoring and help from their colleagues. They got over their initial concerns very quickly and now they can’t be without sales-i.

“We all love sales-i for a lot of different reasons and it definitely shows!”

SALES-I: Tell us about the monthly sales-i intelligence pieces that you send out.

SHELLY M: “We found there was so much to update our teams on that we now send a monthly email the first week of every month dedicated just to sales-i. It details anything that’s new, updates to the system and any customer wins since the previous month. It’s a communication thing. It means the entire team is always kept up-to-date when it comes to sales-i.”

Check out an example of the sales-i intelligence email Shelly sends every month here.

SALES-I: How have you ensured adoption with your team?

SHELLY M: “We knew when we bought sales-i that it wasn’t going to entirely drive itself so by sending out this monthly intelligence piece and keeping the sales force motivated, we have ensured its success.

“I got buy-in from the majority very quickly, some of our old timers were wary of technology but whenever you make a change people get scared. I remember when we told them we were going to do this, there was a lot of whispering going on but it turned out to be a really positive thing for us.

“In addition to the sales-i intelligence piece, we also send out a fortnightly internal sales focus piece that details what’s going on in the next two weeks and there is always a sales-i piece in that. We send that to ensure that sales-i is always a hot topic during all our meetings.

“The team and I make a real effort to get together regularly, whether on a one-to-one basis or on a webinar to share and further their knowledge when it comes to sales-i. I make every effort to help them with anything sales-i related and raise the bar on their usage. We also hold pocket meetings with live refreshers.

“I ask my team to send me their wins. This can be anything that they’ve done where they gained a sale or furthered their customer knowledge with the use of sales-i. I share those with the whole company to let top management know that sales-i is generating a positive ROI and to share best practices throughout the salesforce. We have a lot of internal sharing and publicizing their wins is a great way for me to see who is and isn’t using sales-i to the best of their ability.”

SALES-I: If you could give some advice to a customer that is new to sales-i, what would it be?

SHELLY M: “The first thing is to meet with your people and bring everyone in so they know you are with them, hands-on. You’ve got to be talking to the people that you expect to use it and meet with them on an ongoing basis – webinars work great for this kind of stuff if you can’t all be in the office at the same time. You can show them the system on-screen, they can ask questions and it’s interactive.

“It’s also key to let them know what your expectations of them as a user are. Give them plenty of time to get used to the change and help them through it. It won’t happen overnight so don’t expect it to.”

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