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In Many Ways, Fleet Management is Sales

In this issue’s “Women in Utility Fleet” feature, I speak with Lissa Brady, the fleet asset manager at San Diego Gas & Electric and a director on the EUFMC board.

We talked about her nontraditional path to fleet management, with more than two decades in various sales roles. She said her predecessor at SDG&E also came from a sales background, which helped pave the way for her.

That conversation got me thinking: As a fleet professional, you serve “customers” – your user groups and senior management. In other words, you’re in sales. So, what sales skills are you developing to make you more effective in managing your department? Here are five that translate well for fleet management success.

1. Communication. At its core, sales is about effective communication. Fleet managers constantly communicate with drivers, suppliers, maintenance teams and senior management. Having polished communication skills can ensure that all parties understand goals, expectations and changes in plans.

2. Persuasion. Often, fleet managers need to persuade senior leadership to approve budgets, adopt new technologies or make changes to fleet operations. Sales skills can help fleet managers articulate the benefits and return on investment of their proposals convincingly.

3. Relationship building. Salespeople excel at building and maintaining relationships. For fleet managers, nurturing relationships with vendors, service providers and internal stakeholders can lead to better terms, quicker service and more collaboration.

4. Negotiation. Sales skills include effective negotiation techniques. Fleet managers often negotiate with suppliers for better rates, terms and services. Understanding how to come to a win-win agreement can lead to significant cost savings and better partnerships.

5. Understanding needs. Just as salespeople must understand their customers’ needs to offer the right solutions, fleet managers must understand the needs of their organization, drivers and vehicles to ensure optimal operations.

By honing these sales skills, you can operate your fleet more efficiently and give yourself a leg up in advancing your career.


Sean M. Lyden

Sean M. Lyden is the editor of Utility Fleet Professional magazine.