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Let’s talk about your Sales Staff

green parts
Your parts are no good until you've sold them
Much of the work I do with dismantling businesses is about car buying and processing – beginning with the car buying and then moving on to create efficiencies in turning the cars we buy into the parts we sell.


But obviously just having the parts is not the objective; your sales staff have to sell them! That’s what pays the bills.

So have you ever wondered what your sales staff think they are doing? I don’t mean that in the most negative sense! But what is it they think they have to achieve every time the phone rings or a customer comes to the counter? And how do we understand that helping the customer helps our business?

I preach to sales staff that for most people needing a spare part is something they see as a problem that needs to be solved. Or really just a problem that they wish would simply go away! That’s understandable and I believe a sales person has to always see it that way too: The customer has the problem: that’s okay, as a salesperson in an automotive dismantling business can I provide a solution?

Steve Tapner
Steve Tapner is as a past owner of a dismantling business in Australia but more recently (since 2004) he has worked with Actual Systems which then became Hollander International Australia, following its acquisition by Solera Inc. This period saw the introduction of the Pinnacle inventory and management software to the Australian market - from the first sites in late 2004 to 100 plus sites in Australia and New Zealand by late 2014. Since that time Steve has been working as a trainer and independent consultant to the industry.

We're hoping that Steve will be presenting at CARS 2016 which will be a great opportunity for us all to benefit from his experience. If you have any questions or would like to ask Steve anything, then contact him by email here.
And what form will that solution take? Will it just be offering a part? Or can we do more to offer the customer assurance about the suitability and quality of the part? And can we give the customer an easy path to pay for the part and get it from us?

Just a few weeks ago I was at a dismantling business in South West Sydney and overheard a sales person take a call for a VW Golf gearbox. This is a great example of how it should be done. As he began looking it up he could see there were two types of auto gearbox identified by different 3 letter codes.

Sales Person: there are two ‘boxes in that model. They have a code: do you know the code?
Customer: no
Sales Person: That’s okay your workshop will be able to tell you. What workshop is it at?
Customer: Fred Blogg’s Mechanical Repairs.
Sales Person: Oh… that’s good we can deliver a box there. Hang on I’ll check what we have (he looks up both types)… Okay we have the FDH code box in stock…. That’s the common one. I have a good one here… good kilometres. We can supply that with 6 months parts and labour warranty for $1000 delivered to the workshop. Is that a good solution for you?
Customer: Yes – sounds all right!
Sales Person: Oh so what’s your name and number? I can put it on the quote for you. Just get back to me when you have checked the code.
Customer: Nathan 0407 45680
Sales Person: Thanks Nathan.

Now I can’t say for sure that this resulted in a sale, but it deserved to!

The first thing the salesman did well was to not make the fact that there were two options a problem. Instead he explained that to the customer and moved on.

The second thing he did was to make his part sound like the likely one for the car (I don’t know if it actually is!), and to get the information about where the car was.

He then endorsed the product by offering it with a 6-month warranty (he would sell it for a lower price with less warranty if needed), and giving the customer an all-up price that included delivery.

What he had actually done was provide the customer with a solution, and because he is very good at this he had done it much more quickly than it has taken me to record it here – finishing up typing the details into the quote on his screen just as he was hanging up the phone!

Too often in the dismantling industry we are guilty of imposing our uncertainties on the customer: our uncertainties about the fitment, the quality or the price. If we are using good software, and using it well, we can instead convey a degree of certainty to the customer that will influence them strongly to buy our product. Remember, that certainty is one of the perceived qualities of new parts that we in the dismantling industry need to match to take more sales from the new part vendors.

And what if we don’t have the right part in stock? In Australia almost every dismantling business “brokers” parts. The 120 or so Australian businesses that are on the Pinnacle system do it using the “Pinnaclenet”. I am not sure how strongly UK businesses broker, but here, having say 30% of revenue come from the sale of brokered parts is regarded as a good mix. Why is that? Well the first reason is that, done well these sales can be an extra source of revenue and profit. And the second reason is that it comes back to what we are talking about here: offering our customers a solution to their spare parts problem!

January 2016


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