How to successfully sell to fleet owners in rapidly evolving trucking & fleet markets
What worked for marketing to fleets in the last 10 years
will not work in the next 10 years.
More like, what hasn’t been happening! The commercial transportation sector has exploded with technology innovation, new business models, and a constant flow of new products and services. This led to a rapid rise of solution providers in asset tracking, telematics, GPS, ADAS, ELD, eDVIR, and SaaS. All bringing the cloud to the roads. 3G gives way to 4G then 5G. Analytics and AI, regulations and court rulings … all add to the head-spinning mix. And now, the innovation cycle is underway with fleet electrification.
Go-to-market dynamics change rapidly. Companies may compete with someone today, then partner with them tomorrow. Fleet and trucking customer needs are evolving fast with the technology revolution.
All of this is attracting new investments and entries into the fleet market.
It’s exciting! And it also brings challenges to succeed when marketing to fleets.
Business development is lagging in recognizing these new realities in marketing to fleets.
Too many seem steeped in old school techniques. Sales organizations are pounding the same prospect lists such as magazine subscribers and associations. They buy lists and dump them into HubSpot or Salesforce. This has led to contacts on lists, like fleet managers and business owners, getting an avalanche of calls and emails. Receptiveness falls for everyone.
Yes, sales are happening, but this could be so much better!
First, we have to address this: The market is now crowded and competitive. In 2010, early start-ups had room for trial and error until they found their niche/fast growth areas. Now in the 2020s, there’s a lot of noise. So it’s harder today to find net new buyers of your product or service. You’ll run into installed competitors.
There is also a key customer trend: fleet managers are increasingly buying complementary products. They want solutions that integrate with other solutions they already own. We are seeing this “convergence” dynamic with the proliferation of features to build “all in one” platforms, and M&A activity to acquire the technologies.
Solutions that solve one problem or use case
are competing less effectively against product suites
from a single vendor.
So you have to look at strategy to build on your strengths …
What’s been working well?
Despite the dramatic shifts, we found a common pattern in fleet suppliers that have high growth and momentum.
They do three things well:
- Operate as if the target market is finite
- Position clearly in niche markets
- Build a strong prospect database
Let’s look at each of these …
It is crucial to pinpoint the realistic addressable market
for your opportunities,
and align prospecting, lead gen & demand gen
to this market.
Strategy 1: Operate as if the target market is finite
It’s important to recognize that the number of potential customers is finite. Even if sales of a product category or service are growing, this does not mean the numbers of companies in your target sub-market will grow at the same rate – or that new companies are entering. And while we may be in the early adopter phase of fleet electrification, this dynamic will apply to that market as well.
It is crucial to pinpoint the realistic addressable market for your opportunities. Then align prospecting, lead gen and demand gen to this market.
Strategy 2: Position clearly in niche markets
Many innovative companies get their start with one solution. But while there are exceptions, solutions that solve one fleet problem or use case (“point solutions”) are competing less effectively against product suites from a single vendor.
So, smaller companies that fill specific gaps must focus on dominating a niche and gaining critical mass there. And meanwhile, develop new products and services to further penetrate the market.
Succeeding in these circumstances requires – first and foremost – a deep understanding of customers:
- Identify the best existing customers (could be based on revenue, subscriptions, vehicles)
- Track prospects with the fastest pipeline progress from lead to sale, to get insights from conversion to close
- Create metrics to track customer value, measured by penetration, upsell and renewal
This focus on positioning also helps you tell your story better to new prospects.
Marketing and sales teams that build
a 360 view of their prospects in a database
will have more success in reaching their market.
Strategy 3: Build a strong prospect database, not just a lead list
The current state for many companies is to buy ad hoc lists, and export data from B2B contacts software, and dump that data in HubSpot or Salesforce to make dials and send email campaigns. If a contact phone or email is not valid or available, they throw the entire account out.
However the account still has the vehicles they sell to. It’s in their market. That doesn’t change.
This is a very one-dimensional approach to prospecting. With this approach, data is captured once and it quickly goes obsolete. Usable data shrinks.
Instead, marketing and sales teams that focus on the fleet accounts will build a 360 view of their prospects in a database that’s maintained over time. Usable data grows.
Contacts change jobs, and valid emails and dials come and go. So the contacts need ongoing attention and maintenance, rather than throwing the account off a list.
Treat each target account with care, keep it in CRM, and continually append and enrich data for it. This is one way to treat your total addressable market as if it is finite.
When focusing on maintaining the account data, and using HubSpot and Salesforce as a database rather than a list, fast-growing teams can get greater long-term success. Because they have multiple contacts and data is refreshed continuously. With this ongoing reliable data, they can better connect with prospects and customers.
We can help you identify your total addressable market in fleet, and build a database with quarterly refreshed medium and heavy-duty trucking data, and light-duty fleet data, with ProsperFleet.
President & CEO at Valgen
Rainmaker extraordinaire for our clients. Turns databases into gold. Analytics executive and entrepreneur with a track record of producing significant and sustained revenue gains for sales teams in fleet, transportation, high tech & financial services.