If there is one phrase that could describe Julian Charchuk’s career so far, it would be “on the road again.”
The Dalhousie University psychology and neuroscience graduate was first hired as a Field Sales Trainee by Reynolds and Reynolds, the automotive industry’s largest provider of car dealership software, services and forms, in early 2010.
“As a young person fresh out of school, it can be difficult to find a decent sales position, but Reynolds is willing to take chances on and embrace young people if they’re the right fit,” he says.
“Reynolds is willing to take chances on and embrace young people if they’re the right fit.” —Julian Charchuk, Field Sales Specialist, Reynolds and Reynolds
He started out in his trainee role by splitting his time training on the job with two different experienced sales reps in two different provinces as they visited customers at dealerships in their territories. For Julian, that meant a lot of travel. “One week I would be in New Brunswick and the next week I would be in Nova Scotia,” he recalls.
Julian stayed overnight in hotels as he travelled throughout the two Maritime provinces but still found time for what was really important to him, such as staying in shape. “I’m a bit of a gym rat, so I would just figure out some kind of gym membership in the towns I would be visiting so I could keep up that part of my life while I was there.”
Promotion and relocation
In less than a year as a Field Sales Trainee with Reynolds and Reynolds, Julian learned the ins and outs of the company’s products, services and customers directly from his managers and interactions with customers.
He was asked to relocate to southern Ontario to become a Field Sales Specialist in 2011. Based out of his home office in Hamilton, he now manages a sales territory that goes from Fort Erie (just across the border from Buffalo, New York) all the way up to Barrie, excluding Toronto. “In hindsight, it’s probably one of the best things I’ve ever done,” Julian says.
As a Field Sales Specialist in a smaller yet much more dense territory, there’s no overnight travel and he can plan his work days to avoid traffic, so he’s rarely home any later than 7 p.m. He’s still on the road a lot, though, spending most of his time visiting car dealerships along Highway 403 between Burlington, Oakville and Mississauga.
“My day isn’t the same every day and that’s the best part of it,” he says.
More relationship selling than cold calling
According to Julian, his job is to maintain and strengthen relationships with Reynolds and Reynolds’ existing customers to increase business. “In my role, I’m more focused on relationship selling than cold calling,” he says.
“Everybody in the automotive industry knows who we are – we’re the industry leader. You’ll never go in and have them look at you like, ‘Who are you?’”
An effective way to manage those relationships is knowing when to meet with customers. “The company provides many tools that help you keep yourself organized, and allow you to segment customers by who they are, how much business they do with Reynolds and how often you want to call on that account,” he explains.
One of the most important tools Julian uses is Reynolds’ electronic inventory management system. “I’ll run inventory reports in the morning that I’ll take with me, and I’ll update those as I go to see customers during the day,” he says. At the end of each day, he’ll send the updated reports to Reynolds’ sales support team who will enter the new information into the system. Basically, he always knows when his customers need new products.
From there, he’ll create a schedule for himself so he can maximize his time and meet with as many customers as possible in or around the same location in a single day, rather than driving all over the place. He usually meets with an average of three to six customers each day, four days a week – the fifth day is spent doing office work.
Sometimes, he’ll also call on dealerships that don’t already use Reynolds’ software to discuss how it can help them sell more vehicles, reach more customers, better manage their businesses and increase profits. Even those aren’t exactly “cold” calls, though. “Everybody in the automotive industry knows who we are – we’re the industry leader,” he says. “You’ll never go in and have them look at you like, ‘Who are you?'”
Helping solve customers’ problems
Being a Field Sales Specialist with Reynolds and Reynolds involves more than just “selling.” Julian sees himself as a consultant to his customers’ businesses and builds relationships with many different decision makers at each dealership, including Service Managers, Parts Department Managers, Operations Managers, Sales Managers, CFOs and Secretary Treasurers, depending on how large or small the dealership is.
“I’ll sit down and talk to them about how things are going with their business. I’ll ask questions, uncover opportunities in their processes and make suggestions on how to help with things they’re having difficulty with, such as products that can fit into that niche,” he explains. “If anything needs a further follow-up, I’ll schedule a time to go back in and discuss a product in-depth or bring samples.”
Julian adds that Reynolds trains their sales representatives to focus more on selling a solution to a customer’s problem rather than just selling them a product, and that influences how he speaks to customers. “The relationship is definitely the most important thing – if you lose the relationship, it’s going to be pretty difficult to get that back,” he says.
Professional development: Becoming a better salesperson
Although you might expect a Field Sales Specialist like Julian to be 100% focused on hitting sales goals and boosting his own bottom line with bonuses, he says meeting sales goals just happens naturally if you make the most of the tools Reynolds and Reynolds provides, and keep your customer relationships organized.
That being said, his managers set quarterly and annual targets for Julian and other Reynolds salespeople to meet. In addition, they may ask them to focus on selling new or featured products.
How does Julian stay up-to-date on all of Reynolds’ products? He says the company always keeps him and his fellow sales representatives in the know through newsletters, webinars and training sessions at the company’s Dayton, Ohio headquarters. “They educate you about how the dealership and car business world works, and they keep close tabs on making sure the reps know what’s available.”