Whatever position we’re in, we’re all selling something – an idea, a point of view or a proposal – whether we want to call it “sales” or not. That goes for fleet professionals as well.
In his book “To Sell is Human: The Surprising Truth About Moving Others,” best-selling author Daniel H. Pink put it like this: “Physicians sell patients on a remedy. Lawyers sell juries on a verdict. Teachers sell students on the value of paying attention in class. … Whatever our profession, we deliver presentations to fellow employees and make pitches to new clients. We try to convince the boss to loosen up a few dollars from the budget or the human resources department to add more vacation days.”
But far too many fleet managers believe a myth that’s putting their careers at risk: “My work should speak for itself.” The truth is that, even in fleet, perception is reality. And if you don’t intentionally shape the perception of senior leadership to match the reality of your work, you’re setting yourself up for failure.
Think about it: Your fleet could be one of the top performers in the utility industry. But what if leadership doesn’t know what top performance should look like? All they see is that fleet costs keep going up. So, from their perspective, you must be bad at your job, right?
That’s why your long-term success in fleet hinges on your ability to sell yourself, your proposals, and your department’s performance to all stakeholders who have the resources and support you need to do your job right.
What does sales look like for fleet professionals? Check out this issue’s article “Budget Talks: Why Fleet Needs a Seat at the Table – And How You Can Earn It,” in which we interviewed 30-year veteran fleet manager Chris Lindquist to help us dive deep into this topic.
The premise is that you can’t expect senior management to “get it” when it comes to fleet performance. That’s on the fleet manager. In the article, Lindquist offers four tips for how you can increase your influence on the discussions that impact your budget.
According to Lindquist: "You have to educate management by developing your models and business cases so that they understand that what the fleet department does actually dovetails with the company's strategic objectives – that your fleet really does have an impact on the overall company dynamics, especially on the operational side where these budget dollars are being fought over.”
That's the essence of sales in fleet. It's not about obnoxiously tooting your own horn. It's about the subtler arts of education, communication and demonstration to help all key decision-makers to “get it” – to shape the narrative that explains why your department should be entrusted with more dollars.
Sean M. Lyden