Snap-on trucks and Sales Reps might seem to be an odd combination.
At least it did for me until I got a chance to experience this first-hand over the holidays.
I have a friend that manages an auto repair department for a well-known auto dealership. I had stopped by to wish my friend some holiday wishes. A few minutes into my visit, I noticed many of the mechanics walking out the door and walking toward a large white truck with a big red Snap-on logo on the side. Reminded me of the rush in my neighborhood during the summer when the ice cream truck showed up on my street.
I asked my friend what was going on and he explained that every two weeks the Snap-on truck would stop by for his mechanics to check out the tools of their trade. I asked to go out and observe the experience for myself. Mechanics were already inside the back of the truck and there were still several others waiting outside for their chance to enter. I asked those in line what they were expecting to find in the truck.
What I learned was that each mechanic owns their own set of tools. They have been adding to their tool boxes for years, and one guy even had tools that his father had handed down to him. These mechanics and technicians are living the principles that I referred to in my last post when I introduced BYOT or Bring Your Own Tools. The dealership provides state of the art work facilities, maintains them and supplies the shop towels and other consumables. The dealership also supplies some of the high end electronic equipment that is very expensive and only available to a dealership.
What I found very interesting was the excitement, the buzz amongst those waiting in line to get inside. They were talking shop, problems that they were working on or had resolved and what tools they wanted to buy. They enjoyed the bi-weekly visit by the Snap-on driver so that they could learn about new tools, tips for how to use tools in new or more productive ways, and the opportunity to “talk shop” with other professionals. They looked forward to spending their own money on tools that would be theirs for a lifetime, and that would allow them to do their work in more efficient and productive ways. The selection of tools once they were inside the truck was amazing.
I started thinking about how this scene plays out in the world I live in of sales teams and sales reps. There were similarities and significant differences.
Similar was the interest and energy when a group of sales people are together at lunch or at a sales convention. Similar in their conversations revolving around the newest thinking in the sales world, current challenges and how each person is approaching those problems. Similar in the deep interest in the tools themselves and how they help the mechanic do their job more enjoyably and more productively.
Strikingly different is that most sales people do not invest in their own tools. There is no toolbox of professional tools that have been accumulated, maintained and used in daily activities. Sales people tend to count on their employer to provide the tools to perform their duties. Sound familiar? Your experience might be different than mine and if so, please comment below and share what you see or do.
Overall, my impression is that sales people do not have their version of a Snap-on truck that drops by on a regular schedule. Generally, they do not own their own specialized tools but instead rely on what their company provides. They are dependent on their employer to set up professional training on the newest strategies, tactics and tools for the profession if they are getting training at all. Many of the experienced sales reps haven’t been to training since their initial on-boarding process, if at all. When they change jobs, all the tools used are left behind when they leave, resulting in having to learn how to use all the new tools being provided by their new employer. Getting up to speed takes extra time and time is money and sales lost.
Here are three questions that I would love to hear from readers on:
- Do you invest in your own tools as a sales person? Why or why not?
- Would you visit the Sales Tool Truck if one was to stop by every few weeks?
- If there was a Sales Tool Truck, what would you hope to find once inside?
I hope you will take some time and answer the questions below in comments. I have ideas flying around but would like to get your input on this before I act. I hope that you will add your voice to the conversation.