Vespa SA’s Andy Reid on How to Master B2C Sales

Vespa SA’s Andy Reid on How to Master B2C Sales


Vital stats:

  • Player: Andy Reid
  • Company: Vespa South Africa
  • Current Turnover: R50 million
  • Goal: R100 million, requiring 1 000 scooter sales per annum
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Ask yourself is your company achieving its sales targets?

Related: How to Give Your Sales Strategy the Winning Edge

With a background in B2B business, Andy Reid, founder of Vespa South Africa, learnt some quick lessons when he launched the much-loved brand in South Africa. “The B2C sale is very emotional, which means there are a lot of perceptions influencing the buyer,” he explains.

“In the case of Vespa, people love the brand, and yet at the beginning we weren’t transacting. We had people coming into the store, responding to our advertising, telling us how much they loved Vespa, and yet we weren’t making any sales. It was incredibly frustrating.”

And then the realisation sank in. “It took some time to understand that although people loved the brand, they were scared: Scared of our roads, scared of riding, or simply unsure of how to get a licence. We needed to overcome those barriers if we wanted to make sales.”

And Reid needed to make sales. Thanks to the sale of his previous company he was able to invest heavily in the brand, and had taken a ‘go big or go home’ attitude: Seven national stores, 35 staff and 600 vespas brought in from Italy. It was time to put that investment to work.

Switching StrategiesAndy-Reid-Vespa

The simple question, “Welcome to Vespa, do you ride?” was Reid’s sales breakthrough. “70% of the time the answer is no, which means we can follow up with, ‘Would you like to learn?’ Most people say yes, and that’s our first step to getting their bum on a bike, which is essential if we’re to make the sale.”

It meant a major shift in business strategy. Instead of focusing on being an importer of scooters, today Vespa South Africa is in the business of teaching people how to ride for free, and helping them get their licences.

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Selling actual scooters is the result of that strategy. “Once prospects are comfortable on the bike, our average conversion rate is 6:1, so if a sales person wants to make four sales in a month, they need to get 24 people on the bike, either through lessons, or test rides,” says Reid, explaining the second arm of his sales strategy, which is numbers. Know your numbers, and you’ll make your targets.

To really meet numbers, the sales pipeline is crucial. “We have processes in place so that our reps aren’t only concentrating on the here and now. They need to know where their next sale is coming from. If it takes six people on a bike to make one sale, they need to be working on multiple bums on bikes in a month.

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“We know that out of 192 inquiry suspects, 96 are qualified. Only 48 (50%) suspects will then be interested in a test ride, and only 24 of those will be very interested and will actually perform a test drive. These are now prospects. It’s a numbers game, with different prospects at different stages of the cycle at all times. Keep an eye on your numbers, work through the pipeline, and you’ll meet target.”

Sales Tracking Process

It’s a six-month sales cycle though, which makes a sales tracking process crucial – without it, there’d never be prospects in all stages of the cycle, and sales would not be constant.

For every step of Reid’s sales tracking process there are four steps. If all four are not ticked, then the prospect is not at 20%, 50%, 80% or 100%. The sales rep must go back and ensure each step is followed.

“If you’re not making target you need to go back to the pipeline and see why. The problems will fall into one of three categories. It’s either a time issue (a blank diary means you’re unemployed as far as I’m concerned), or a courage issue (you’re not asking the right questions of your prospects) or a self-discipline issue (you’re not following the systems step-by-step).

“In sales – and anything in life and business – success comes when good practices are so engrained they’re a habit. A successful sales rep always knows where their next sale is coming from, and that takes discipline and follow-through. To instil accountability in my team, each sales rep fills in a weekly self-appraisal document where they rate each step of the pipeline.

“They need to be honest because it’s checked by the store manager and me, and sales targets are an easy way to check their answers – everything can’t be good or excellent if they aren’t meeting target, for example. Once they acknowledge where a task or line item has been done poorly, they can take ownership of that failure and we can put an improvement action plan in place.

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“My team call me Anal Andy because I hammer the detail into everything we do. It’s all about the follow through. For example, a salesman must never tell me, ‘He’s thinking about it.’ If a prospect says that, the response is: ‘Sorry sir, I obviously haven’t done my job properly. What do you need to think about? Share the problem with me. What’s our next action?’

“Selling must be proactive, and you don’t know your next step unless you understand your client’s needs. Always ask questions: What are you buying, when do you want to buy it, how are you paying for it? Based on these answers you will automatically know what your next action step is as the sales rep, proactively guiding your prospect through the sale.”

Nadine Todd
Nadine Todd is the Managing Editor of Entrepreneur Magazine, the How-To guide for growing businesses. Find her on Google+.

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