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Keep on trucking: The Heavy-duty sector and COVID-19.

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What’s next for the heavy-duty sector?

The Heavy-duty sector is the backbone of the US, shipping goods all over the country, whether it's fuel, medical supplies, raw materials, or consumer goods. If for whatever reason, trucking was to stop overnight, the whole country would grind to a halt.

Like many industries though, the sector felt the effects of COVID-19 straight away. In April, more than 88,000 trucking jobs were lost in the US, which is the highest monthly job loss since figures were recorded in 1990.

However, there are signs that the green shoots of recovery are starting to break through.

From our own data, drawn from reviewing sales for over 50 companies in the heavy-duty sector, over 1/3 of companies increased their sales between April and May 2020. In fact, 12% actually reported an increase in sales figures when comparing figures in February 2020 (before the pandemic), to May 2020.

Further to this, Fleet Equipment Magazine reported that data shared by Decisiv, Inc showed that after dropping initially from March to April, the number of service events and repairs for Class 6-8 commercial vehicles had stayed fairly consistent for the eight weeks after.

Due to the many downturns that the sector has faced in recent times, heavy-duty companies have become more resilient to moments of crisis.

Like many others, Paccar, a global leader in high-quality premium trucks, temporarily suspended commercial truck and engine production in March, but CEO Preston Freight told todaysmotorvehicles.com that “PACCAR’s excellent balance sheet, experienced leadership team, and outstanding employees will contribute to the company successfully managing through this difficult period.

todaysmotorvehicles.com report that Paccar ‘has an excellent credit rating and has $4.3 billion in cash and $3 billion in available credit.’ Other than cash reserves though, what else could be done to get businesses through these exceptional times?


Embrace technology. 

We now live in a world evolving towards industry 4.0, yet some companies still record their customer notes by hand, hold their details in a Filofax, and couldn’t easily tell you what stock is sitting in their warehouse.

Companies that have invested in a CRM system, on which they can record their notes on a shared system whilst working out of the office, are the ones who could carry on during this crisis and continue to work whilst at home. Sales professionals may not have been able to visit companies, but they are still able to access notes and call customers to check in whilst working from home.

Taking it one step further, sales enablement software now exists, such as sales-i. Accessible on mobile or desktop devices, it enables users to track their customers’ sales performance and trends, altering them if buying patterns change, so they can stay on top of customer buying behavior 24/7 and stop any chance of churn as soon as it begins.

So whether it’s getting your website geared up for online sales, recording your notes in a CRM, or, staying on track of your sales with a sales enablement platform, companies that embrace technology, have been able to make decisions quicker and with more analysis, these small changes could make all the difference to a company’s bottom line.


Electric trucks.

To say some positives have come out of COVID-19 sounds maybe a little crass, but it’s true when it comes to the effects on the environment.

The lockdown has led to less carbon emissions and less air pollution. This could lead to further pressure being applied to the heavy-duty sector, meaning an acceleration toward the development of environmentally friendly electric trucks.

FleetOwner.com reported recently that ‘the heavy-duty sector has veered into the fast lane of electrification’ with Tesla due to start production in 2020’.

The benefits are not just for the environment though. Mark Wagner, Product Planning Manager, Kenworth Truck Company recently shared his thoughts at the Green Truck Summit, he listed a few other advantages including the effects it will have on ‘brand image, the marketing that the company can do, and the ability to track new talent.’

Although there has been a price drop in gasoline due to COVID-19, as the IDTechEx Report sums up ‘the days of the fossil fuel-powered combustion engine are numbered.’ Many heavy-duty companies are starting to evaluate heavy-duty vehicles before they are forced to do so by ever-tightening CO2 emission legislation.


Increased efficiencies. 

As mentioned above, not everything associated with COVID-19 has been bad news, one area that businesses can take advantage of is the new measures implemented that mean delivery drivers no longer have to wait for signatures or hang around for a chat when delivering products to companies.

The social side may not be quite what it was, but it does mean companies can get their products to customers sooner, and lose less time by waiting around,  fulfilling more daily deliveries. Ultimately leading to more satisfied customers and a shorter supply chain.

John Sadler, President of Sadler Power Train, told https://www.truckpartsandservice.com/ how “We’re noticing our drivers are getting back to the store an hour earlier than normal on delivery runs because they’re not stopping and chatting with customers along the way.”


Get prepared for the future of heavy-duty.

Analysis performed by sales-i does show that some heavy-duty manufacturers and wholesalers are seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, but others are not quite there yet.

One of the key takeaways from the analysis performed by S&P Global ratings projected that ‘global sales of heavy-duty trucks will decline by 20%-30% in 2020, to about 1.7 million units.

However, they feel that in 2021, there will be a sales recovery of up to 10%. In other words, a recovery will come.

In the meantime, it’s a case of preparing for success and doing the things that you don’t usually have time for.

Now is a good time for companies to review their current software systems, for instance, do they have a suitable sales enablement platform, such as sales-i, in place to take the ‘heavy duties’ out of sales and spot and alert them to sales opportunities and changes in patterns?

This support is now more vital than ever in supporting sales teams and minimizing sales from slipping during difficult times.

Many organizations are reviewing workforces and efficiencies.

Good sales enablement software will do a lot of this work for you. sales-i allows you to see your sales performance by salesperson, you can see a ‘Snapshot’ of their performance, how many calls they’ve made, and how many have resulted in sales giving you a true reflection of their performance.

Now is also the time to invest in training. A lot of companies are using downtime to give their staff skills-specific training or product knowledge training. Even a 1% uplift in knowledge could be the difference in securing a sale in the future.

Finally, an important piece of housekeeping is the chance to ensure CRM records are up to date and that hit lists of prospects have been created. As business begins to pick up, that investment in collating information will deliver returns as you have the correct data, and know who to target and what message to target them with.


sales-i and the heavy-duty sector.

The effects of COVID-19 will have an impact for the foreseeable future, but there are some signs of recovery for the heavy-duty industry already and sales-i are here to help kickstart sales.

sales-i is already helping over 50 companies in the heavy-duty sector to increase their sales, efficiency, and effectiveness. In this emerging landscape, the sales intelligence that sales-i delivers could be the difference between a company’s rapid recovery and a slow slog back to normality.

Tri-State Truck Centre is just one such company that is benefiting from the software, to find out more about how sales-i is helping them click here.


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