Equipment Rental Insider: Starting your sales engine
By Josh Nickell

Equipment Rental Insider: Starting your sales engine

How to get your team to the next level

Traditionally, equipment rental companies depend on the inside team to focus their time on inbound calls and the outside team to have their boots on job sites. This is a proven model for business-to-business (B2B) sales with contractors.

Yet, if you aren’t leveraging your team’s talents to do inside sales or phone selling, you could miss easy opportunities to increase your business. By following these five steps, you can have a high-quality program implemented in just a few months.

Start small. An inside sales program doesn’t have to start with a complicated grand plan that takes extra training, tracking or time to implement. Start with one thing. My recommendation is to start with calls to thank your customers for their business. Establish a revenue threshold for a customer billed in the previous week that will generate five to 10 calls per inside salesperson. Then, run a report weekly to see who passed that threshold and call to thank them for their business. Rental is a repeat and a relationship business. A quick and straightforward call to thank a customer for their business, learn more about them and let them know you’re looking forward to seeing them again can be very impactful. Plus, it’s a very easy call that almost anyone can make with little to no training. It’s not a cold call, and you don’t have to be an expert salesperson. You just have to appreciate your customers genuinely. Your team will experience wins with these calls, which will build enthusiasm as you move on to the
next steps.

Build a program. Once you get a regular cadence of calls thanking your customers for their business, you can start to build upon that momentum and add more complexity to your program. Additional outbound call types to consider would be check-in calls to your largest customers, fastest-growing customers and declining customers. Another typical relationship-building call would be to have management call to welcome new accounts and introduce themselves to build stronger relationships between customers and your business, not just individual sales reps. A twist on relationship-building calls is checking your utilization and seeing what categories have the highest availability. Then when planning some of your calls, focus on customers who frequently rent those categories of equipment. You will be surprised how quickly they start to go out the door on rent.

Add difficulty. Once you’ve mastered relationship-building calls, you start to add more difficult prospecting calls. Start by establishing two to four focused customer types that best fit your business, like plumbers or electricians. Then build a list of prospects that fit those customer types through Google search, referrals, commercial construction bidding, project lists and more. Then make targeted outbound phone calls to those prospects. Most customers are used to hearing from you on a job site. So, catching them in the office can be another way to get through to the difficult-to-reach customers. It’s also a great way to keep your outside sales team busy on rainy days. Pro-tip: landscapers are an excellent market to target through outbound phone sales because they are challenging to catch on a job site.

Make it repeatable. Now that you have built a list of the right calls, start to set goals for the number of calls made each week and assign them to specific reps. Keep track of this and discuss the results and best practices regularly, preferably at your weekly sales meeting.

Use it as a training tool. You’ve probably already connected the dots on this one. With a range of call types and difficulties, you now have an easy way to start taking new employees from just answering inbound calls to making high-quality outbound phone calls. Eventually, the same skill set carries over to in-person job site visits. Rank your call types by difficulty, and then assign them to your team based on experience and ability. Slowly ratchet them up from your easiest to most difficult calls. You can start them quickly by having them call weekend do-it-yourself (DIY) customers to thank them for their business. Hardly anyone does that, so this can create incredible loyalty. These calls are very easy and build confidence. Then move to relationship-building calls with contractors who meet your weekly spend threshold and continue up from there until they are making outbound prospecting calls to the most difficult-to-reach customers with gatekeepers like industrial plant maintenance managers.

If you want to take your sales team to the next level and get new team members off to a great start, check out the new ARA Certified Sales program from the American Rental Association (ARA). It includes the tips, tools and tactics they need to advance their rental career in an intensive but engaging online certification curriculum. Visit to learn more. u

Josh Nickell is the ARA vice president, equipment segment. He can be reached at

Josh Nickell

Josh NickellJosh Nickell

Nickell, a 20-year rental industry veteran, has spent a good portion of his life in a family rental business as a third-generation owner. His experience also includes working for a national rental company, an international rental software provider and serving the industry in a consulting capacity. Through decades of experience, he has gained unique perspective and knowledge of the construction, industrial and general tool rental industry. Nickell leads program development and member engagement for the equipment segment of ARA membership.

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