When the Price Isn't Right

Because Modern Equipment Sales & Rental is in a competitive market, its salespeople need to be able to react swiftly to customer requests.

One tool that allows Modern Equipment's sales team to be quick on its feet is the rental-rate worksheet. The simple spreadsheet application allows a salesperson to plug in a piece of equipment's acquisition cost, depreciation schedule, loan interest rate, estimated maintenance and other factors to determine several "what if ..." pricing scenarios.

"The idea is to make businesspeople out of our salespeople," says Al Funk, Modern Equipment's president of sales. "Sometimes it is difficult for them to understand why another company rents an item cheaper than we can. With the spreadsheet, our salespeople can do the math themselves."

When that cost-benefit light bulb goes on, salespeople are more prone to pitch customers on quality, service and price - as opposed to price only.

"There was a recent deal [we were bidding on] that a salesperson put through the worksheet, and it's a good thing [he did]," says George Wilkinson, executive vice president and chief financial officer of Modern Equipment parent Modern Group. "If we would have got that deal, we wouldn't have made any money. The customer kept saying he needed lower rates, and we told him that we had to pass."

Modern Group president and CEO Dave Griffith says the best part about the worksheet is that it wasn't developed by a software specialist using a complicated computer code. It was a collaboration by two salesmen who created it on their laptop computers. "One thing every business must deal with is teaching salespeople about pricing issues, costing issues, cash-flow issues, etc.," Griffith says. "We've empowered people. We give them the authority. And we trust them." -T.N.

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