Auto Service World
Feature   September 1, 2010   by Andrew Ross

Home Run Sales Tactics

With the waning days of summer at our doorstep, it is time for those in the aftermarket distribution business to rededicate themselves to the business at hand: selling auto parts.

And, with the timely baseball theme, here are some points to consider when designing the all-important sales strategies for the months ahead.

It’s a Team Sport

Sales is no longer an individual pursuit, if it ever was. With proposal writing, pricing, programs, and fulfilling of promises comes the necessity to have many people onside for a sale to be successful over the long haul.

“The way a team plays as a whole determines its success. You may have the greatest bunch of individual stars in the world, but if they don’t play together, the club won’t be worth a dime.”

Babe Ruth, baseball player

Know When to Bunt

Every salesperson loves the idea of the big win–swinging for the fences can feel glorious, especially when you make contact– but going after the smaller commitments from new customers is a great way to build confidence and loyalty.

Fielding Counts

In baseball, as in sales, it’s not all about offense. You have to know how to play the positions and be ready to field the hits when they come in. Play your position, and keep your eye on the ball.

Listen to the Manager

As much as baseball is a team sport, there is a manager who might just know best who to play where and when. A rogue player never does a team any good.

Work Hard

Anyone who has watched a game can attest to the fact that there’s an awful lot of standing around during a game. What is not clear is how hard the players work between games. Natural talent is not enough. A good salesperson prepares constantly, reading up on new offerings from suppliers, and being well versed in up-to-date information on programs. A solid sales call– game performance–is only possible with that preparation.

Training Camp

Top players take training camp seriously. As noted above, it is an important part of preparation. Take training seriously, and bring that attitude with you to customer calls. Training prepares you for situations that have not arisen yet. Would you rather wait until you see your first curve ball before learning how to hit it, or have someone teach you so you have a good shot at one when you see it in a game?

You Can’t Win ‘Em All

Nobody, no team, no player, no salesperson, wins them all. Not even the Yankees. A great batting average is .300, which is hitting safely three out of ten times. If a prospect isn’t buying today, it might not be worth changing everything your company is founded on to change his mind. Maybe you should just keep tabs on him, so that you’re ready when he does change it.

“No matter how good you are, you’re going to lose one-third of your games. No matter how bad you are, you’re going to win one-third of your games. It’s the other third that makes the difference.”

Tommy Lasorda, legendary baseball manager

Charlie Hustle

Pete Rose is not in the Baseball Hall of Fame and probably never will be, but nobody can deny that he brought a vigour to his play like few before or since. Yes, you have to prepare for a considered, safe approach, take your singles and your bases on balls, but every now and then you have to go for it and slide head-first into home.

“You owe it to yourself to be the best you can possibly be–in baseball and in life.”

Pete Rose

And I leave you with the words of the big screen’s Crash Davis, the sort-of hero of “Bull Durham”, whose advice to all aspiring big leaguers on what to say still rings true: “We gotta play ’em one day at a time. I’m just happy to be here and hope I can help the ballclub. I just wanna give it my best shot and, the Good Lord willing, things’ll work out.”

In the following pages you’ll find practical, direct advice on things you can do to boost your sales in Ride Control, Belts and Hoses, Antifreeze/Coolant, and Visibility Products.

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