Volume, Margin and the Impact of Differentiation

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Well we’re up against another year-end. Many of you are so busy cramming the next deal in the year-end push, you can’t think about Friday much less 2017. But for those with their heads above water, it might be time to passively start thinking about how to really make a move in 2017. And in case you were wondering, doing the same thing and expecting a different result is not a strategy for growth.

In 2015 we saw a general loosening of the market. Business was there to be had. Nice! The bad news is that competition was ridiculous. No…really. $250,000 app only to construction companies with less than 3 years TIB, funded debt to EBITDA multiples climbing an escalator, 150,000 mile per year tractors financed on a 96 month term. Yikes. And all for rates that are still historically…and artificially…low.

So what to do in 16? The climate is poised for change. Increased rates are coming from our friends at the Fed, economic slowing is probable, but for the foreseeable future crazy competition persists. How can you win business and still generate margin? In olden times we used to call it selling value or real solutions.

Increasingly, we hear our clients refer to business development overwhelmingly with the term “bidding” or “quoting”. We discounted the magnitude of it at first and but as rate-based competition becomes an overall complaint of everyone, we became concerned. Rate is always a factor what we sell. Sure it’s nuts now. But if you rely on low rates to win in our business, there are only a handful or less of financial institutions you can work for. And even then we can guarantee you their leadership doesn’t want to win business on rate. We wonder, have we lost our sales mojo?

Selling in this business used to be about creating solutions. And we had some really tough, hard-nosed, aggressive, smart salespeople that worked tirelessly to create asset focused solutions that helped companies manage equipment more affordably. Now it seems we are offering money-centered financing quotes that we feel is some kind of “bid” response. Where’s the value creation in that? Where’s the relationship development? Where’s the focus on partnership?

In 2016 it might be time to ask yourself if you’ve let the pressures of the intense competition and ZIRP environment brainwash your team into…well…falling in line with that stuff. Many of you have great teams and unique stories to tell, the problem is that no one would know it. You sound like everyone else. Your websites are embarrassing in a world where that matters more and more. And your salespeople might be hoping to “bid” their way to success rather than rolling up sleeves and creating unique solutions for a company’s assets.

Let’s fix it. Let’s sell the value of equipment finance again. Let’s focus on the assets of a company and deliver proactive unique solutions. Let’s tell the unique story of our companies. And let’s never allow rate to define what we are…or are not. We are a marketing company that knows the equipment finance business and we can help. If you wanna chat about differentiation in 2017…give us a holler.


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