Dealers looking to concentrate on small business sales can make good profits if they adopt an attitude that they will not sell many cars at the outset.
Instead, those who understand that it requires a consultative approach over a prolonged period, rather than a hard sell, will reap dividends in the long run.
Speaking about Honda’s rapidly expanding small business programme, Dave Girling, national dealer corporate manager, said: “When we started this programme a couple of years ago, we knew that in year one you might get very few sales from it.
“Then in the second year you start to see some growth,” he said.
With 92 dealers now on the programme, 104 dedicated dealer staff and 35 agency staff working on prospecting, Honda has seen explosive growth in B2B sales, with a 57% rise in 2007 over 2006, and a 32% increase this year over 2007.
In 2006, sub-100 sales represented 10% of Honda’s corporate volume. The 2008 split is almost 50/50. Year to date, small business sales represent nearly 10,000 units across the dealer network.
Girling said the consultative approach is key. “It’s about saying to a customer that perhaps if they did things differently, they could save £300,000 over 50 cars over a period of time, rather than just trying to sell to them straight away.
“What we want are account managers giving business advice about funding, whole-life costs and tax.
“In the second year we’re seeing sales of about 120-140 units a year per person. That’s about the maximum any single small business salesperson can do.”
Honda is looking to recruit another 50 B2Bs in the next year, and then another 50 in the following 12 months, much of it for expansion but some replacements.
Dealers signing to the Corporate Charter get support from Honda UK on recruitment, training and salaries to get the programme off the ground.
“Some Honda dealers are now on to their second account manager, and a few even looking at a third,” said Girling.