Are you providing a fuel management system, or are you just selling fuel?
Over the years I've worked very hard to help petroleum marketers understand the difference between providing a Fuel Management System versus simply selling fuel. What is the difference? There are two facets to the answer.
One is how you present your product, and the other is what you actually do to help the customer manage their fueling. When it comes to selling, PowerUp Fleet provides comprehensive training services at the PowerUp Fleet University which will transform your sales team into highly competent, educated professionals.
When it comes to helping a business manage their fueling, the ultimate winners will be those who provide timely, and EFFECTIVE analysis of fueling activity. It's not enough to simply provide someone with a card that has controls and limits, supplemented by a fuel bill/report at the end of the month. In today's environment you need to support your client by closely scrutinizing their fueling activity.
Let's discuss some real life events to emphasize what I mean. The rather small borough of West Mifflin, PA recently discovered that an employee's girl friend was using his Fuelman card to fuel her heroin addiction. Over several months (but less than a year) she was able to purchase $72,000 in fuel, selling it to friends and strangers at a service station. Now the Mayor is reviewing their agreement with Fuelman and asking how could this have happened. Great question. Someone should have been able to detect the problem, but who? The client, or Fuelman?
Just recently an administrative captain in Sullivan County, TN was caught fueling another person's vehicle with her Fleet One fuel card. Only after a store clerk observed it happening did the she get caught. Come to find out, other clerks had been observing the same event on multiple occasions. It wasn't until the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation reviewed corresponding Fleet One receipts and Sullivan County Purchasing Department records before they were "able to identify significant discrepancies in miles per gallon and fuel tank holding capacities of vehicles involved in this incident." Why wasn't this caught?
Consider the Colorado Department of Transportation who lost over $200,000 to an employee who was "borrowing" cards from idle equipment. We won't go into how he was able to breach the security of several cards, as that is available on the PowerUp Fleet University, but we will tell you it came to light for a couple of reasons, one of which was the fact that a transaction was "noticed". Apparently it caught someone's attention that a snow plow fueled in another county in the middle of the summer. Now the internal auditors for the State are devising their own metrics for analyzing fueling activity. But who is going to step up for those smaller businesses who can't afford to staff people to create algorithms and analytics tools?
The answer is you, but do YOU have the right tools to do the job? What should you be analyzing and when? How do you go about analyzing hundreds or thousands of clients every day?
Some of the functionality we recommend might be built into the fleet card product that you offer, while the others must be imbedded in your accounting system. Here are a few examples of when you should be alerting fleets:
- Transaction frequency increases or deviates from standard use patterns.
- Fuel consumption increases or deviates from standard use patterns.
- A transaction exceeds the tank size of the vehicle.
- MPG deviates from standard ranges (odometer reasonableness check)
- A vehicle fuels outside of a normal geographic fueling area
While these are just a few suggestions within our library of recommended analytics, they give you an idea of the value provided since they would have prevented the examples above.
The real challenge is first to have the proper technology in place within your organization, and secondly for your sales and support teams to collect the necessary information, I.E. tank size, and then follow through on both the implementation and ongoing monitoring processes. In the best scenario, this process should be fully automated.
Regardless, the marketer who can implement advanced tools such as we recommend will secure the larger, more sophisticated accounts, and will be better positioned to compete in a quickly changing market.
To learn more about how you should be managing your fleet fueling business, visit the PowerUp Fleet University today.
Fleet Card Sales Tip: When should you set appointments?
Going back to Sales 101, everyone knows that you should have an objective in mind when you make first contact with a prospect (typically over the phone). One
train of thought is your goal should be to get an appointment scheduled. Don't waste time engaging the prospect, investigating their needs, or qualifying their potential. The strategy is to save your bullets until you are in front of the prospect where you can better read the situation and gain information.
The fact of the matter is, when you are in front of a prospect, there is a better chance that you are going to be able to close the sale. What we would like to coach you on is there is an interim process that should be followed involving more engagement prior to scheduling the meeting. You need to take the time to properly identify the decision maker, establish a base level of credibility with that person by exploring their situation, and then by providing a high level explanation of how you are going to be able to bring value and meet needs.
Why is this interim process so important? Because selling is a numbers game, and without proper qualification, a salesperson can be wasting critical time running here and there meeting with prospects who either have little volume, or are currently well positioned with your same product (I.E. they already have a card issued through one of your network peers.). Secondly, the appointment first strategy eliminates your opportunity to close the sale without having to go face to face.
Based on how far you've been able to penetrate the opportunity in this initial call, you either schedule the face to face meeting, or you continue if you sense an opportunity to further your objective of closing the sale without face to face. YES YOU CAN CLOSE SALES OVER THE PHONE and we have many marketers who excel at this. It depends upon your skill of reading people over the phone and effectiveness in asking questions that keep the prospect engaged.
Finally, there will come a point in time where your appointments will become further and further away. If you haven't developed the skills to reach the prospect without face to face, your sales growth will slow to a crawl and your travel expenses will skyrocket.
To help salespeople navigate this learning process, we've created a new and improved phone scripting tool available for subscribers of the PowerUp Fleet University. Visit the Sales Skill Workshop at the PowerUp University today!
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Remember, at PowerUp Fleet, we provide tools that will help your team be more organized, knowledgeable, and effective, including sales training, petroleum specific Sales Force Automation and Customer Relationship Management Systems, marketing collateral, and web sites!