The lead-up to Independence Day weekend is a quiet one for Travis Sneed, Astec's regional sales manager for the Southeast. While people throughout his territory—from Florida up through Alabama, from Mississippi east to Georgia—will be buying fireworks and setting up backyard barbeques, Travis and the ten other regional sales managers are completing a safety training course at Astec headquarters. "On holiday weeks like this, a lot of our customers are off work," Travis explained, "so that makes it a good time for us to come in and take care of in-house business like I'm doing today." Before the week is out, Travis will not only complete more training courses but also familiarize himself with Astec's newest product catalog and equipment changes, as well as deliver news on how products in the field are meeting expectations and where they can improve. Then he's back on the road, because customers are expecting him.
A New Level of Service
Travis Sneed has been with Astec in one position or another for over two decades, but back in February of 2001 his unofficial position was guinea pig. He was named the first regional sales manager for parts, meaning that he was now responsible for maintaining Astec's customer relationships for a large section of the country, not just a few clients here or there.
"I remember having a few weeks to see if we could get it off the ground before we wanted to commit everyone's effort to it," Travis recalled. Since then, the regional sales support system did not just get off the ground, but took flight. Today, Astec divides all of the United States and sections of Canada into eleven parts regions—each one with its own support person like Travis.
Support for Customers
"I consider myself a liaison between Astec and the customer. I understand that this is a sales job," Travis noted, "but I'm on the customer's side. That is my most important job."
Other than three or four weeks a year for training, being on the customer's side could be taken literally. "We serve as a support team for the customers," Travis added. He travels his territory constantly, meeting with customers across the Southeast to answer their questions, provide solutions, and generally make their parts experience as easy as possible. Over time, customers know they can trust Travis to advocate their needs.
"Without that level of trust," Travis continued, "believe me, there is no sale."
Relationships Work Both Ways
Through Travis Sneed and the ten other regional sales managers, the relationship between Astec and its parts customers is mutually beneficial. "We spend three or four days of each work week with our customers," Travis added, "and they are the real-life test labs for our products." With access to that raw amount of hands-on experience, Travis and his colleagues can report back to Astec's engineers on the latest needs from the field—which is sometimes the easiest way to communicate. "Many times I'm the messenger of a great idea, one our customers brings to the table," Travis said.
"When our customers have information our engineers need, I want them to know that I'm there for them," Travis continued. "My number one goal is to build that relationship." Building relationships and building trust, improving service and improving products, the Astec Parts Regional Sales team is a major reason Astec customers expect and receive superior service.BACK TO ISSUE