#myRBstory with Elliot Bicknell
Ritchie Bros. was a pioneer of B2B sales back when the business first started in Alberta, Canada.
Working within a company that laid many of the foundations of this industry has meant that I’ve been fortunate enough to learn from the original B2B sales specialists.
I’ve been supported continuously in my professional development throughout my time here and I’m happy to say that the skills I’ve acquired have led to a fantastic career in sales.
Good customer relationships are the key to success
Probably the most important skill in sales is the ability to create great relationships with customers. The best way to do this is by getting to know each of your customers. Do a little research on them, especially when you’re meeting someone for the first time. There’s a wealth of information available out there on social media, so look them up and don’t go in totally blind.
It’s also crucial to really listen to the customer. Listening is such a powerful tool. You need to make sure you hear what they are saying and what their needs and wants are, so you can fulfil them.
A big part of our founder Dave Ritchie’s motto was to always do what’s right. If you do that, everything else kind of falls into place. This means becoming a trusted adviser. Being on time for your meetings. Being honest and always acting with integrity. I think that this is the real key to forming long-lasting, trusting relationships that lead to potentially lifetime sales, not just one-offs.
I’ve actually just been invited to a customer’s 60th birthday party, which is one of the biggest signs you’re doing a good job in this field. You know you’ve made it when you have customers calling you for business advice, or to invite you to a personal event!
Some of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned at Ritchie Bros.
When I think about lessons I’ve picked up at Ritchie Bros. the first thing that comes to mind is something my dear friend Dave — one of the longest-serving sales guys here on our team in Alberta — has taught me.
He says to ‘Always have the call’. By that, he means having the tough conversations and having them first. For the most part, the conversations we have are positive. They’re usually a cause for celebration because we’ve done a good job and sold someone’s equipment for big money and everyone’s happy.
But from time to time, for reasons outside of your control (for example, market-driven circumstances), hard conversations are needed and I’ve learned that meeting these head-on is very important. The customers respect you for it because they know it’s not an easy one for you, and they also appreciate the opportunity to vent, too.
In this business, you also need to be mindful of all the personas you’ll come across, their buying habits and their individual needs. Our marketing and business intelligence teams do a tremendous job tracking this sort of information. This is what allows us to create focused marketing plans and reach out to buyers. We may have seen them click on a piece on our website multiple times, so we give them a call to see if they have any questions about it. Or we contact a buyer who’s in the same neighbourhood as an upcoming auction to let them know about it.
There are also some lesser-known lead-nurturing techniques, such as just being thorough and keeping detailed notes. Most sales professionals are pretty good at keeping everything in their head, but in the world, we’re in today, things move with such speed and volume. It’s impossible to retain everything that way anymore. Take advantage of platforms like Salesforce to capture all of the relevant information you need. Then make sure to follow up and ensure customers know of certain opportunities. This is one of the most effective ways to nurture leads.
The great thing about Ritchie Bros is that even though it’s now a publicly-traded company, it still has that feel of the family business it started as. The organization is quite flat and the whole executive level is accessible, which I find to be fantastic.
We’re incentivized a lot to hit numbers and targets and the rewards are amazing. Additionally, we’re working with people who become real friends and a support network. It really feels like a family — and that means a lot.