It was back in July 2002 that our FleetWatch technical correspondent, Dave Scott, wrote about the low number of qualified truck salesmen in the industry. I quote from the article which was headed ‘Start at the Back’.
“I’m no doubt going to offend some people by saying this but at a rough guesstimate, I would put the total number of qualified truck salespeople – male and female across all truck franchises in southern Africa – at about 30. Add trailer and body-equipment salespeople and the figure rises to around 50. The rest just take a chance with their customers’ big investments.”
The article was on the topic of vehicle selection where Scott stated that the selling process had become a price cutting focus on chassis/cab. It was an interesting article, the content of which is still relevant to this day. You can read it by clicking here:
It thus came as good news hearing that Hino South Africa has started a year-long Hino Learnership Programme compiled to provide comprehensive training for sales staff at the dealerships. Generally, the delegates are new to selling Hino trucks – although they may have prior experience as truck sales staff.
There are 12 delegates on the first course which kicked off in February, including one from Namibia. They undergo a week’s intensive theoretical and practical training each month and are then required to complete a tutorial on the subjects covered. The rest of each month is spent working at their dealerships.
“The major focus is on sales and marketing knowledge and skills, although the course also includes visits to the Hino manufacturing facility in Prospecton, technical workshops, body builders and bus builders, so that they can understand the full scope of the environment in which they are working,” explains Ernie Trautmann, vice president of Hino South Africa.
“Practical driver training is another aspect of the learnership course. I am a big supporter of driver training not only for the road safety benefits but also for the fact that it contributes to the durability of the vehicle and the insistence by trained drivers on having a roadworthy truck to drive,” he adds.
The learnership course is registered with merSETA and the delegates will receive a certificate when they graduate at the end of the year. They will then be able to continue their studies with a diploma course at Unisa.
The course was developed in conjunction with a specialist training consultancy. The lecturer, Philip Brandt, comes from a background of vehicle fleet management so he understands the type of information required by fleet operators from a sales staff.
“There’s a lot of role-play in the course with the ultimate objective of training the delegates to be in a positon to recommend the correct truck for a particular operation while also knowing how to calculate a finance package that will suit the customer’s business model,” says Brandt. “One of my other objectives is to have each delegate become an ambassador for the Hino brand and a person who can be trusted by customers when buying trucks from him or her.”
FleetWatch compliments Hino South Africa on the introduction of such a course. The days of price and the size of the discount being the dominant factor in a vehicle purchase decision are long gone. It’s now all about Total Cost of Ownership – a concept that needs to be driven hard in the industry by qualified sales people as the way to go.
And here’s a question for Dave Scott: “Dave, in 2002, you put the total number of qualified truck salespeople – male and female across all truck franchises in southern Africa – at about 30. Taking this Hino initiative out of the equation, how many do you reckon there are now? It will be interesting to get your view.”