Doing it differently in Colombia
Colombia is a beautiful country, sitting on the Caribbean Sea in northern South America. Twice I've gone to Bogota to do seminars on direct marketing. Another time my bride joined me for an extensive tour of the country. Nice place.
This story is about a nice guy. Roger Vergara Skinner. Roger and his English-speaking wife sat in on most of a week's worth of my presentations. We got to talking. At the time Roger was marketing manager at a bank. He and Maria Teresa invited me to their home, where I met some friends. We began a relationship.
Roger is now with GECOLSA, the authorized distributor of Caterpillar products in Colombia. This enormous earth moving equipment is expensive. Very expensive. And thus a "consideration sale". Making a buying decision takes time.
GECOLSA learned that marketing and sales must work together with prospects, if they are going to turn them into customers. Sounds like the basics ... and it is!
GECOLSA has developed a "tool box" of financial options to help salesmen meet customers' needs when closing deals.
"To help customers buy our machines, we need to make better use of all the financial tools available. We have to be prepared to work with customers on financing," says Roger.
Financial Marketing is
a sales function.
Rergara points out that the position of financial marketing manager (his title) is part of the dealership's marketing group, not the financial side of the company. His charter is to find outside financing for customers, thereby reducing GECOLSA's receivables. Any credit risk to the dealership must be approved by the Finance Department.
Obviously, Roger's background and experience in banking makes him a natural for this marketing assignment.
Working with local leasing companies, finance corporations and banks, GECOLSA created a portfolio of financial products best suited to its customers. "We researched customers' needs, and then we worked with financial companies to find the options we could offer in the sales process," says Roger.
These include leasing, factoring, Caterpillar Financial Services options and other types of credit like Export-Import Bank loans, letters of credit, credit lines for pre-shipment operations, and direct payments.
For salesmen's quick reference, GECOLSA created "specification cards" for each option. These cards describe the type of financial option, its costs, and how and where to obtain it for customers.
GECOLSA packages these cards -- along with an interest-and-currency-exchange-rate chart and a list of financial representatives in each city, and their phone numberss and addresses -- in red tool boxes.
"These tool boxes contain complete financial option kits. The tool box is symbolic. It shows customers and salesmen that these options are 'tools' we can use for financing. Customers identify a tool box with working on Caterpillar machine, so we decided to use it as a common element for financial merchandising."
They are also launching a GECOLSA credit card. "With the support of the main consumer credit card company in Colombia, we can merchandise our own credit card with a special logo. This will facilitate parts purchases by more customers. Our credit card system can also accept other credit cards from the same financial group."
For use during sales calls, GECOLSA is developing a software program for portable computers. This program will help salesmen figure out the best financing options for customers. "Salesmen will be able to enter customer information into the computer and discuss these financial options on the spot," Roger says.
"Our salesmen know about financing, but in most cases they need some help finding up-to-date rates, tax requirements, and contacts at financial corporations," he adds. "The financial tool box answers many of these questions and helps us use financial merchandising and strategies to catch more customers."
The toolbox is itself
a successful tool.
The tool box marketing concept is successfully sold via direct mail. Offering to prospects the opportunity to arrange financing at the Caterpillar dealership. Makes for happy customers!
||Sometimes the mail is 3-D ... a small, wooden dimensional piece of Caterpillar equipment.
||Sometimes it comes in a jumbo mailing envelope.
||Sometimes it is a mock-up in cardboard of the "real" tool box the sales rep shows up with for the one-on-one presentation.
It is always eye-opening and attention getting.
Direct mail for GECOLSA is designed to get a lead. To open the door for the sales representative to walk through. And then work through to the close -- including being fully prepared to handle all the financial needs.
Roger Vergara Skinner is meeting the marketing and sales challenge with an innovative idea. He is helping his sales team help their prospects become GECOLSA and Caterpillar customers. Nice job, Roger.