Dr. Jim WeberDr. Jim Weber, Weber Consulting

For full list of articles from the Oct./Nov. 2010 issue, click here.

It’s been nearly 5 months since I wrote my last article and I am indeed humbled by the plethora of calls, e-mails and letters I have received from heretofore unknown readers lamenting the finality of my previous column. This correspondence was not only from existing dealers, but previous dealers, former manufacturer employees, and those previously employed with dealer associations, many of whom I was told had retained their subscription to ostensibly read my column. As I stated, this was not only humbling, but also gratifying, to know that my writings had such a following and had indeed made such an impact.

Now, this column begins anew. As such, I approach this new assignment with circumspection and feel a lot like Georgia O’Keefe, the renowned painter of Southwestern scenes, who once stated the following:

“I said to myself, I have things in my head that are not like what anyone has taught me — shapes and ideas so near to me — so natural to my way of being and thinking that it hasn’t occurred to me to put them down. I decided to start anew, to strip away what I had been taught.”

The regular column will be entitled, “The Business of Selling,” and as was stated in the introductory announcement, “will be written to provide ag equipment dealer-principals and departmental managers with insight and tools they need to expand the sales knowledge and effectiveness of their sales teams, while also raising the professional level of their staffs through quantitative and qualitative methods to monitor progress and results.”

While the business of selling is indeed the goal of all equipment dealerships, as a writer, the subject matter can be daunting or overwhelming. Not because it is abstruse or recondite, but rather because of the sheer volume that has already been written on the subject. In fact, a recent article stated that the number of books written on the subject of sales is second only to the number of books written on the subject of religion.

Thus, the challenge for future articles will be to frame the article in such a way as to take the myriad of knowledge and information that already exists and present it in such a way as to not only make it appear “new,” but also, insightful and challenging. To that end, future articles will address such issues as the sales department culture; who to hire and who to fire; call schedules vs. call reports; conquest selling; the market share conundrum; overcoming rejection and/or sales slumps; target marketing versus mass marketing; and other subjects that, hopefully, will not only appeal to both managers and salespersonnel, but also stimulate discussion and positive change within the dealership.

The articles will be written from the perspective of nearly 35 years experience in the equipment industry. During that period, I have trained thousands of equipment dealership personnel on 5 continents, written nearly 200 articles, consulted with hundreds of dealerships throughout the world, been a speaker at numerous company and association conventions, and have worked with a multitude of manufacturers, both full line and shortline.

What readers can expect from this column will be the following:

  • A pledge to never condescend to the reader;
  • A pledge never to patronize the manufacturer;
  • A pledge to write openly and honestly, foregoing theory and sophistry; and
  • A refusal to “dumb down” the article.

As always, I will be vigilant in my efforts to provide the information in such a way as to enable interested dealers to do the right thing and make the kind of money they deserve, even in those cases where the market forces may be aligned against them.

Notwithstanding the above average commodity prices that the equipment industry has experienced since 2007, equipment dealers are in a war of attrition. Manufacturers want fewer dealers, make no mistake about it. As a result, those dealers who want to stay in business need to fight on like Horatius Cocles, who held the bridge over the Tiber River against the invading Etruscans, in Thomas Babington Macaulay’s famous poem, Horatius from The Lays of Ancient Rome. For as Macaulay wrote in Horatius:

“Then out spake brave Horatius,

the Captain of the Gate:

‘To every man upon this earth

Death cometh soon or late.

And how can man die better

than facing fearful odds,

For the ashes of his fathers,

And the temples of his Gods’”

Macaulay concluded this fantastic poem with the following 4 lines:

“With weeping and with laughter

Still is the story told,

How well Horatius kept the bridge

In the brave days of old.”

I look forward to writing future columns for those dealers not only interested in survival, but more importantly, making the kinds of money today that can be looked upon in the future as the brave days of old.



For full list of articles from the Oct./Nov. Issue, click here or choose from the list below:

To the Point: A Customer Lost  at the Hands of the Major

Dealers’ Sentiments Turn Sharply Positive for 2011

Dealer Profile: Kern Machinery Learning to Adapt on the ‘Go’

Farm Progress Show 2010: Efficiency & Precision Mark New Products

Grain Augers: Stock ’Em to Sell ’Em

Tying it All Together

Industry Q&A

Trade Values & Trends: Resale Values for Seeding Equipment

Ahead of the Curve: The Growing Trend Toward Vertical Tillage

Planning for Profits: Hard Data + Soft Skills = Improved Absorption