Make vs. Take: Labeling Leads, Creating Strategies & Seeing Results

by Linda P. Kester November/December 2015
All potential leasing customers are not the same, which is why Linda Kester says labeling prospective accounts as a “make” or a “take” will help sales reps increase their volume. She explains the characteristics of each label and the best methods to transform these prospects into customers.

It’s March 1989. I’m 23 years old. I have just walked out of Brunswick Surgical without any business for what feels like the millionth time. I’m so discouraged. If I don’t start producing volume soon I’ll be put on probation. The people at this account like me, but they are using Copelco and see no reason to change. They quote leasing all the time, their average transaction is $40,000, they sell to doctors and they really don’t care about rate. I consider them a take account, which means I need to find a way to take the business from Copelco.

I get into my red 1981 Saab 900 and I drive to AccuSoft. They sell software through a network of distributors. They have never had a leasing/finance
program before and they’re skeptical. I meet with the VP of sales for about 20 minutes and try to convince him that endorsing Advanta Leasing and giving me his distributor list will result in more sales. Since they have never used leasing they are a make account.

I drive south on the New Jersey turnpike and go back to the office. My manager, Rich Zapiec, drills me on how the appointments went and gives me a goal of landing both one take and one make before month end. The pressure to produce is palpable.

I don’t miss those days of just starting out and trying to make something out of nothing. But this is what teaches you how to sell. If you start in leasing and are just handed a book of business you’ll never appreciate what the hard work the initial sales rep went through to get things flowing.

I assumed that all reps differentiated between make and take accounts. In 1996, when I started my training business, I was surprised to find that most leasing companies didn’t make this distinction. They have entirely different energies. Labeling leads to strategy.

Strategies For Landing a Take

With a take account you probe to find out what’s most important to them in a leasing partner. You point out a pain that they didn’t know they had, and you show them that you can provide better service than what they are currently experiencing. It’s hard to go head-to-head with a competitor and get all of the vendor’s business. It’s better to get your foot in the door with a special program and expand from there.

  • Methods to use to land a take vendor: Pre-funding or a new business program. A special concept to get that first application.
  • Trade show support. Ask if you can work in their booth to help close more sales.
  • Perseverance. There’s a lot to be said for sheer determination and hanging in there.
  • Google alerts. Set your hottest prospects up and stay current on all relative news.

Bob Underwood from Specialty Funding in Albuquerque told me that he has a sales rep that asks the following questions of her take accounts:

  • Does your leasing company help you sell the deal?
  • When you submit an application, does your leasing company have you follow up for additional information and documentation?
  • Do you trust your leasing company to talk to your customer and have your best interests at heart?
  • Do you get feedback from your leasing company if the customer is unhappy?
  • Does your leasing company make every effort to get your deal done no matter the customer’s credit?
  • Will your leasing company prefund you?
  • Does it take long to get paid?
  • Does your leasing company follow up with you and your customer to guarantee satisfaction?
  • Does your leasing company make tailored programs just for you to offer?
  • Can we fill out this vendor profile today and get you approved as a preferred vendor?

“She has an 88% closing ratio with new vendors,” says Underwood. “Many of the vendors didn’t know that a relationship with a leasing company need not be autonomous and that rate is not everything.”

Strategies For Landing a Make

With a make account you convince the vendor to quote a monthly payment on at least their next five proposals. Once they get comfortable quoting the monthly payment, and they experience the ease of getting a deal approved, they are more likely to use it as a sales tool.

I never liked make accounts. I’m too impatient. I like immediate gratification and a fast, steady stream of applications. However, I have learned over the years that a make account is an investment in future volume. To land a make, you need to be patient and full of enthusiasm about leasing. Dr. Wayne Dyer, who passed away on July 30, wrote, “In the world of sales, fall in love with what you are offering and transfer that love and enthusiasm to the customer.” This is vital in converting a make because you are not competing against another leasing company; you are competing with an ingrained way of thinking. Other make strategies include:

  • Ask to work with one of the customer’s sales reps. This is a tip from Bud Callahan of National Equipment Leasing in Indianapolis. He asks the vendor for just one of his reps to work with, although not the weakest rep. After this guy starts producing, it’s much easier to get the rest of the sales force to buy in. Callahan has done this successfully with three different vendors.
  • Share a story about how one of your vendor’s sales went through the roof by using your services.
  • Use social media to find out what the customer is dealing with.
  • Engage the prospect by asking open-ended questions. If you are face-to-face, read their body language.
  • Remember “no” doesn’t mean “never.” Be persistent, but not obnoxiously so.

This is a competitive business. Having both make and take accounts in your pipeline requires collecting information, planning and strategic thinking. Enjoy the process. Have some fun with it. Why not make it a goal to land a new make and take account each month?

I know, I know, you are dying to find out what happened with my two prospects. My take, Brunswick Surgical became my best account. I wish that I could tell you that they decided to use me because of some magical words that came out of my mouth, but the truth is their Copelco rep got promoted. Once their guy was out, they decided to give me a try just because I was like a skinny little dog that wouldn’t go away. This one vendor completely changed my life. I became a high producer. I made President’s Club. I felt like a winner, and started getting business from multiple other sources. I share this because if you get discouraged after a tough day of prospecting, remember one good vendor can turn everything around.

My make, AccuSoft, did indeed endorse Advanta and gave us their distributor list. (I tend to remember the wins). What convinced them? It was our assignment of proceeds form. I found out that the AccuSoft dealers were slow to pay for the product. I suggested we pay AccuSoft’s portion directly to the company, and the profit to the distributor. We’d cut two checks when we funded their deals. They loved this idea and got onboard.

Sales is about getting information and then giving information. Do everything you can to keep the conversation going. Uncover specific needs, think on your feet and make something happen.

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