Teaching how to sell

Jan. 1, 2020
We have all met at least one person who could sell us anything. But to where have all these people disappeared?

We have all met at least one person who could sell us anything. I'm not talking about the slick used car salesman that uses gimmicks and charm. I'm talking about a true professional, a person who takes in everyting I've got to say, uses a little intuition and then tactfully lays out a plan of action as to how a product he represents will solve all of my problems and quench my desires.

But to where have all these people disappeared? I tell you, they are very rare in the aftermarket. Many warehouse and manufacturer representatives are merely order takers these days, and I really want to be sold. I want to be fired up about a new or different product, but usually that never happens.

Granted, some people have a knack for selling, but most of us had to be taught. I encourage you to actually teach your staff a few tried and true techniques of salesmanship. Below is a process that I was taught years ago. It is actually a modified version of the training program Xerox used in the 1970s. It was so effective that the brand name Xerox actually became a common term often replacing the word 'copy,' as in,'Could you make a xerox of this page?'

Prospect
Every person that walks into your store or calls on the phone is a prospective customer. Even though our store resembles the waiting room of a barber shop at times — full of men drinking coffee, telling stories of their youth and discussing all of their intestinal problems — my staff is trained to react to every retail customer — whether they come in to the store or call on the phone. A price-shopping customer will let you know right away that his intention is to get a quote. With this type of customer, we ask if he is trying to find the cheapest part, something with a middle-of-the-road price or the best quality for the money. This simple question will set a precedent — hardly anyone will ask this when simply price quoting. This prospect will now question or judge every other quote he receives with a baseline you have estabalished.

Survey
After your prospect has been identified, you must know more about his situation to help solve the problem. Ask a lot of questions, and wait for the answers. When customers ask for an oxygen sensor, always ask them why they think they need one. The answer will frequently suprise you. When surveying a prospect, the query of 'What are you trying to fix?' will open up many avenues that all lead to completing the sale.

Demonstrate
Once you have identified a product that a prospect needs, you must demonstrate how it will solve their problem. I insist that my sales staff know as much as possible about the products we stock. It is important for the customer to be confident in your ability, and this will speed up the transaction. When a prospect asks you how an oxygen sensor works, you better know, especially if your store's is $10 more. A good demonstation will lead to add-on sales. In the case of the oxygen sensor, for example, suggesting the special socket for removal/installation or some penetrating oil are practical things that your prospect will readily acknowledge. If countermen open the product box and show prospects what they are getting, I guarantee it will enable them to increase their add-on sales because it will jog their memory about the things required to finish the job. Try it and let me know. You'll laugh all the way to the bank.

PAGE 2

Proposal
A good proposal will lead straight to closing the deal. A bad proposal will lead to a multitude of drawbacks and objections that must be overcome before the transaction is final. Your proposal is the point where the final price is revealed. Oftentimes, if countermen just blurt out a price, it's the only thing that registers in the customer's mind. A kinder, gentler, more effective way is to review the survey findings, remind your customer of other observations during the demonstration and then reveal the final price. Something like this — "This oxygen sensor should take care of the engine light, but don't forget to soak the threads before trying to remove the sensor with your oxygen sensor socket. By the way, you might want to let the engine cool down before starting. If there isn't anything else, the total will be $102.90."

Value analysis
Most of the time, we don't have to use this step, but it's important to understand how to do it. A value analysis is a detailed listing of the benefits your customer will receive from using your product. In layman's terms, it's a 'warm-fuzzy.' Using our oxygen sensor as an example, a counterman might say something like this, "Not only will the engine light go off, but you'll possibly burn less fuel. Plus, an added bonus is the fact that the sensor socket will keep you from skinning your knuckles, and the penetrating oil will keep you from breaking the old sensor off in the exhaust manifold." A good value analysis will strengthen the resolve of the customer to fix the problem using your products.

The Close
During the final and most important step, it's good to remember that you might have a few more things to deal with before getting paid. Product knowledge and knowing your prospect's needs, desires, and financial prowess will ease the process. The prospect needs the sensor to improve the performance of the engine, desires that stupid light be extinguished, possesses the ability to pay, but has A.) never heard of that brand, B.) thinks the sensor has no warranty after install, C.) wishes the color of the wires was different, D.) thinks the price is just too high or E.) likes the delivery girl from your competetior a lot better than Skeeter who delivers your parts. Let's take them one at a time.

Brand issues can be overcome with a proof source that might, for instance, inform the customer that the brand has been around for 50 years and is the world's largest manufacturer of automotive oxygen sensors. If he thinks the sensor has no warranty, present the customer with the manufacturers warranty certificate. If he wishes the color of the wires were different, use the old 'feel-felt-found' close. "Mr. Customer, I know how you feel, some of my customers have felt the same way, but they found out that you can't see the wires after the sensor is installed." If the price is too high, first review the value analysis, then offer to remove some optional items from the transaction to reduce cost, or inform the customer that credit cards are accepted and the bill can be paid in installments to the credit card company, not you. Price matching is for non-professionals. As for Skeeter, clean him up a little bit and remind your service dealer customers that he can cook, dig worms and has a boat.

We have all met at least one person who could sell us anything. I'm not talking about the slick used car salesman that uses gimmicks and charm. I'm talking about a true professional, a person who takes in everyting I've got to say, uses a little intuition and then tactfully lays out a plan of action as to how a product he represents will solve all of my problems and quench my desires.

But to where have all these people disappeared? I tell you, they are very rare in the aftermarket. Many warehouse and manufacturer representatives are merely order takers these days, and I really want to be sold. I want to be fired up about a new or different product, but usually that never happens.

Granted, some people have a knack for selling, but most of us had to be taught. I encourage you to actually teach your staff a few tried and true techniques of salesmanship. Below is a process that I was taught years ago. It is actually a modified version of the training program Xerox used in the 1970s. It was so effective that the brand name Xerox actually became a common term often replacing the word 'copy,' as in,'Could you make a xerox of this page?'

Prospect
Every person that walks into your store or calls on the phone is a prospective customer. Even though our store resembles the waiting room of a barber shop at times — full of men drinking coffee, telling stories of their youth and discussing all of their intestinal problems — my staff is trained to react to every retail customer — whether they come in to the store or call on the phone. A price-shopping customer will let you know right away that his intention is to get a quote. With this type of customer, we ask if he is trying to find the cheapest part, something with a middle-of-the-road price or the best quality for the money. This simple question will set a precedent — hardly anyone will ask this when simply price quoting. This prospect will now question or judge every other quote he receives with a baseline you have estabalished.

Survey
After your prospect has been identified, you must know more about his situation to help solve the problem. Ask a lot of questions, and wait for the answers. When customers ask for an oxygen sensor, always ask them why they think they need one. The answer will frequently suprise you. When surveying a prospect, the query of 'What are you trying to fix?' will open up many avenues that all lead to completing the sale.

Demonstrate
Once you have identified a product that a prospect needs, you must demonstrate how it will solve their problem. I insist that my sales staff know as much as possible about the products we stock. It is important for the customer to be confident in your ability, and this will speed up the transaction. When a prospect asks you how an oxygen sensor works, you better know, especially if your store's is $10 more. A good demonstation will lead to add-on sales. In the case of the oxygen sensor, for example, suggesting the special socket for removal/installation or some penetrating oil are practical things that your prospect will readily acknowledge. If countermen open the product box and show prospects what they are getting, I guarantee it will enable them to increase their add-on sales because it will jog their memory about the things required to finish the job. Try it and let me know. You'll laugh all the way to the bank.

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PAGE 2

Proposal
A good proposal will lead straight to closing the deal. A bad proposal will lead to a multitude of drawbacks and objections that must be overcome before the transaction is final. Your proposal is the point where the final price is revealed. Oftentimes, if countermen just blurt out a price, it's the only thing that registers in the customer's mind. A kinder, gentler, more effective way is to review the survey findings, remind your customer of other observations during the demonstration and then reveal the final price. Something like this — "This oxygen sensor should take care of the engine light, but don't forget to soak the threads before trying to remove the sensor with your oxygen sensor socket. By the way, you might want to let the engine cool down before starting. If there isn't anything else, the total will be $102.90."

Value analysis
Most of the time, we don't have to use this step, but it's important to understand how to do it. A value analysis is a detailed listing of the benefits your customer will receive from using your product. In layman's terms, it's a 'warm-fuzzy.' Using our oxygen sensor as an example, a counterman might say something like this, "Not only will the engine light go off, but you'll possibly burn less fuel. Plus, an added bonus is the fact that the sensor socket will keep you from skinning your knuckles, and the penetrating oil will keep you from breaking the old sensor off in the exhaust manifold." A good value analysis will strengthen the resolve of the customer to fix the problem using your products.

The Close
During the final and most important step, it's good to remember that you might have a few more things to deal with before getting paid. Product knowledge and knowing your prospect's needs, desires, and financial prowess will ease the process. The prospect needs the sensor to improve the performance of the engine, desires that stupid light be extinguished, possesses the ability to pay, but has A.) never heard of that brand, B.) thinks the sensor has no warranty after install, C.) wishes the color of the wires was different, D.) thinks the price is just too high or E.) likes the delivery girl from your competetior a lot better than Skeeter who delivers your parts. Let's take them one at a time.

Brand issues can be overcome with a proof source that might, for instance, inform the customer that the brand has been around for 50 years and is the world's largest manufacturer of automotive oxygen sensors. If he thinks the sensor has no warranty, present the customer with the manufacturers warranty certificate. If he wishes the color of the wires were different, use the old 'feel-felt-found' close. "Mr. Customer, I know how you feel, some of my customers have felt the same way, but they found out that you can't see the wires after the sensor is installed." If the price is too high, first review the value analysis, then offer to remove some optional items from the transaction to reduce cost, or inform the customer that credit cards are accepted and the bill can be paid in installments to the credit card company, not you. Price matching is for non-professionals. As for Skeeter, clean him up a little bit and remind your service dealer customers that he can cook, dig worms and has a boat.