March 7, 2023

Building a career in sales from the underground up

EquipmentShare VP of Sales Jay Mitchell

In 1998, Jay Mitchell was working for the water department in Arlington, Texas, when he received an assignment that changed the flow of his professional life. As he got to work digging up a front yard to fix a broken water line, he started chatting with the friendly homeowner.

“I watched how he made a living. He did it by answering a phone,” Mitchell said. “He had a nice house, a nice family, nice things. So I asked him, ‘What do you do for a living?’” 

The man sold construction equipment, and he proceeded to sell Mitchell on the idea of doing the same.

What began with a plumbing problem has turned into a rewarding career for Mitchell, who is now EquipmentShare’s vice president of sales. The lessons Mitchell learned during his rise in the equipment rental business has applications for anyone considering a career in sales at EquipmentShare.

1. There’s nothing wrong with starting on the ground floor.

After his new friend put in a good word for him at an equipment rental company, Mitchell took a job as an entry-level yard technician. 

“If you want to learn the technical side of the business, be the person who cleans equipment,” Mitchell said. 

When a position in inside sales opened, Mitchell let his boss know he was interested. The job called for him to answer the phone and place the orders called in by account managers, but he saw his duties more broadly as being a money-maker for the branch. He noticed customers who rented the same equipment frequently and convinced them it would make sense to buy. He noted that mortar mixers were just sitting in the yard still in their shrink-wrap packaging, so he cold-called masonry contractors and sold so many mixers that his manager ordered another truckload. 

“When customers came in the door, I came out from behind the counter and greeted them with a handshake and a smile,” Mitchell said. “At the branch level, everyone wears sales hats. You have people who drive up to pick up equipment, and they’re so impressed with the yard tech, it’s why they choose us over some other place. So, in a sense, that person is in sales. I’ve had field technicians who were my best salespeople.”

Wherever you start, if you can help your branch turn a profit, your manager will notice. Mitchell’s boss did, and he was promoted to sales rep before becoming a branch general manager.

2. The only must-have trait is a strong work ethic.

The stereotypical salesperson is an extrovert whose personality takes over a room. Mitchell said many sales reps — who EquipmentShare refer to as territory account managers, or TAMs — do fit this description. They succeed by attacking each day at a full sprint in an approach he jokingly calls “ripping doors off.” But he said there are also many successful TAMs who have more reserved personalities and take their time building long-term relationships with customers.

What the good TAMs have in common is a willingness to put in the work. That begins with creating a plan of attack and setting an itinerary for each day. EquipmentShare TAMs are issued a company truck and laptop, and the most successful salespersons use their mobile office to efficiently move from one worksite or office to the next.

“If you get up in the morning, get in your truck and don’t know if you’re going to turn left or right, you will be mediocre at best,” Mitchell said.

Depending on the size of the EquipmentShare branch, it usually has two to six TAMs. Each of those sales reps has an area of responsibility — or AOR in sales lingo. Mitchell recommends breaking those AORs into quadrants and devoting one day of the week to each. That leaves Friday for following up on promising leads. The consistent tempo of visits establishes the TAM as familiar and dependable. 

“I had a contractor tell me once, ‘The reason I rent from you is you’re the first person I think of because you’re in here once or twice a week,’” Mitchell said. “Really, our job is not difficult here. If you meet people, you call people, your follow-up is in place, you work hard every day and your days are organized and structured, you will win. It’s that simple.”

3. It helps to have a great product to sell.

Mitchell made the switch from another rental company to EquipmentShare in 2019 as a district sales manager and then was promoted to his current role. The reasons Mitchell chose EquipmentShare are the same factors that make it an attractive destination for anyone interested in a career in sales. 

“The culture is the first thing,” Mitchell said. “Our employees are our No. 1 asset, and that’s coming straight from the top, from our CEO. We like to make the job fun. We also give our TAMs the opportunity to make more money than anyone in the industry.”

Part of the reason EquipmentShare’s TAMs have the opportunity to thrive financially is they can expand their customer base outside their area of responsibility.

“If you’re working for a lot of rental companies, you only get paid for orders that come in from your AOR, no matter who places the order,” Mitchell said. “Here, we’re account-based. So you have an area of responsibility, but if your customers in that area of responsibility move on, you can keep that relationship and rent to them all over the country. If you’re from Texas and you’re on vacation in Missouri and meet somebody at the hotel and make a connection, you can set that account up and rent to them. At this company, we want hunters. We let you go and feast.”

Lastly, EquipmentShare TAMs have a great product to sell. The equipment is top of the line from the best manufacturers, and rentals are outfitted with T3  — the cloud-based operating system for construction. T3 allows contractors to know almost every detail about their equipment — from its location to its fluid levels to its maintenance schedule — which is a valuable and exclusive differentiator.

“If I’m speaking to someone who has been in the industry a little bit, it’s a pretty easy sell to come to EquipmentShare,” Mitchell said. “With our technology, we don’t just rent equipment. Our future is bigger than equipment. It’s the conduit to something much larger. With our technology and where we’ll go with it, the sky’s the limit for this company.”

EquipmentShare is growing nationwide, and we’re on the lookout for talented team members in all departments, including sales. Check out our job openings.

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