Becoming a trusted partner to your fleet customers

By Christopher Lyon, NTEA Director of Fleet Relations

This article was published in the December 2017 edition of NTEA News.

Manufacturers, distributors, suppliers and upfitters play a vital role in the fleet community — providing critical information to their current and prospective customers. Fleet managers would not be able to make the most informed decisions without these partnerships. Information on new products and designs, as well as improvements to existing offerings, is a necessity for them.

How do fleet managers view your business? Are you considered a valuable resource or just another place to shop for equipment? Time is a rare commodity for fleet managers, so they continually seek ways to improve their internal operations. Positioning your company as a trusted resource can go a long way toward garnering future purchases.

Staying visible
Sales calls have become somewhat of an art. Delivering your message in an effective, efficient manner is essential for long-term success. The last thing you want is for your company to be viewed as a time-waster. Any face-time you can get with decision-makers must be used wisely.

For example, dropping off literature (versus emailing it) may be viewed as counterproductive. Additionally, an overbearing sales professional can become an annoyance. These types of calls normally get handed off to someone who is not a decision-maker.

A more effective strategy is to be visible. Take the time to learn your customers’ operational needs so you can best position your business to achieve trusted partner status.

Communication — keeping the trust
Effective communication is a cornerstone for establishing and maintaining your company as an information resource. Fleet managers will not likely to do business with organizations they don’t trust — and once trust is lost, it can be extremely difficult to regain.

Key factors that can cause fleet managers to lose confidence include:

  • Promising and failing to provide after-sale support
  • Not possessing product knowledge
  • Misstating product design and performance capabilities
  • Not meeting production schedules
  • Minimizing customer concerns, instead of appropriately addressing them

Making sure you fully understand customers’ requirements and issues will help position your company for the future. Even with a negative customer experience, taking corrective action can often turn the situation around and build on trust and confidence.

For more fleet information, contact Chris Lyon or visit