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Trio of Inside Sales Reps Personify Success of Carolina CAT

Tue May 11, 2010 - Southeast Edition
Eric Olson

The ultimate success of any company is highly dependent on the people who represent the face of that company to the general public. By this criterion, it is easy to see why Carolina CAT is one of the premier equipment dealerships in the Carolinas.

Carolina CAT, headquartered in Charlotte, N.C., is highly revered among its customers because of people like Mark Snow, Ben Patrick and Jose Acosta – three men who personify the company’s professionalism and legendary service, according to the company.

Mark Snow and Ben Patrick serve the firm as inside sales reps of Carolina CAT’s compact fleet; Snow works out of the Western Greensboro location, while Patrick serves the Charlotte market. Jose Acosta has recently begun working as a used equipment sales rep for the company’s emerging international market.

Snow has been with Carolina CAT for almost 20 years. He began as a parts sales representative before migrating to product support sales. After working for a time in the Statesville office, he moved to the Greensboro office where, besides his compact sales duties, he also handles heavy construction equipment and manages the accounts of the location’s local contractors. His sales territory encompasses nine counties in and around the Triad.

The key to success in his position, Snow said, is to do everything he can to satisfy his customers’ needs.

“That, to me, is most important,” he explained. “I think that is why I was so successful in the parts and service business: because I was willing to go above and beyond to get people what they needed to be successful.”

Snow believes that offering a great product is obviously very helpful to achieving success, but also can pose challenges as well.

“Many people have the perception that they cannot afford Caterpillar equipment,” he said. “Now, when I work with a customer that hasn’t done business with Caterpillar or Carolina Tractor, I really try hard to get him to understand the advantages of dealing with Caterpillar and also that the equipment doesn’t always cost more.

“In the end, success or failure depends on the relationship that a sales rep has with a customer and the trust that that customer has in his rep,” Snow said.

“We hang our hats on the fact that Carolina CAT is such a well-respected company,” he added. “Our core values as a company are that we do what we say we are going to do. I cannot imagine, after two decades here, being out in the marketplace trying to represent anyone else.”

Snow’s counterpart in Charlotte is Ben Patrick, who serves that office as the inside sales representative for new and used compact equipment.

He has worked with Carolina CAT for 13 years, first as a mechanic, before moving over to sales 9 years ago.

Patrick feels his success is due in large part to his experience in the technical end of the equipment business. To him, knowing — literally — the nuts and bolts of a machine you are trying to sell makes his job much easier.

“I really love what I do,” said Patrick.

More than anything else, he said, being able to interact with customers is what makes his job the most fun.

“I really enjoy getting to know people and hearing their stories about what they have done in the business to be successful,” he added.

But having a good rapport with customers will only work if the brand of equipment they are buying is well made and offers excellent support. That is where being able to sell Caterpillar machines pays off for Patrick.

“Knowing the level of engineering expertise behind Caterpillar and where they have brought the brand since it was founded in 1925 makes my job easier,” he explained. “And it has been a leader in the market all that time.

“What I like about Caterpillar is being able to stand behind it. If there is a problem with a piece of equipment, you know that you have got the backing there to take care of it. That is true both of Caterpillar and Carolina CAT, which has been in business since 1926, only one year after Caterpillar was formed.”

Patrick added that he is very proud of the level of service his firm offers customers and the quick response time it displays in the event of problem with the equipment.

“We have been in business for more than 80 years because we are a family-owned company that knows how to take care of people. My philosophy has always been to treat people the way you would want to be treated. I always try to put myself in the shoes of the person I am dealing with and understand how they want to be treated. There is no way to fail when you do that, I think,” he said.

One of Patrick’s colleagues in the Charlotte office of Carolina CAT is Jose Acosta, who has risen quickly at the firm to be the company’s international used equipment sales rep.

Acosta’s ascension has coincided with Carolina CAT’s new emphasis on growing its international sales business. Although only at his new post for a few months, Acosta has proved to be a quick study, according to the company.

His responsibility will be to work with customers from Latin America, the biggest segment of the company’s international market, which includes Texas and Mexico. In addition, Acosta will work with customers in Europe, Africa and Asia.

“The company has worked that market for years, but now a renewed emphasis is being placed on it,” Acosta explained. “Because I am fluent in both English and Spanish, I am able to help our Latin American customers have a better feel for us and develop a trust in us. My role right now is to open the door wider to that market and open those lines of communication to Latin American customers.”

Acosta began working with Carolina CAT right out of high school when he enrolled in the Caterpillar Technical School. With his degree as a mechanical and technical specialist, he first worked as a mechanic before moving on to serve as a field technician on the road. Later he worked as a lead technician where he supervised one of the company’s shops before moving over to international sales earlier this year.

His mechanical background, Acosta said, is really proving to be an asset in his new job.

“Many of the customers that we deal with and sell to are brokers that have shops where they fix equipment, so they are very knowledgeable about the equipment,” he said. “They will ask a lot of technical questions about engine sizes or what type of pumps a piece may have. Because they really know their stuff, it would be hard to do this job if I didn’t have the ability to answer those questions effectively.”

Despite the fact that his sales career is in its beginning stages, Acosta already understands exactly what it takes to be successful.

“My theory has always been that when we get sales leads, whether from phone calls or e-mails, the first thing to do is to follow up with everyone, no matter how insignificant the lead may seem. A customer may ask for something really crazy, but regardless, I need to see if I can help them,” he said.

“Above all, be cordial, polite and professional about how you deal with things. I have gotten some really good sales from people just talking to me and asking questions. Then, I have invited them to come see the dealership and see that we are who we say we are. At that point, I just try to satisfy their needs as best as I can,” Acosta concluded.

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