Auto Service World
Feature   November 1, 2009   by Laurie Izgerean, Curriculum Developer, Durham College

Outside Sales For Parts Professionals

Knowledge Building:

Selling is one of the most exciting jobs in the world. When you’re with the right organization, it gives you unlimited income potential, freedom, and an opportunity to take control of your career. Modern-day selling is a consultative process that takes time and requires several essential skills. It’s about long-term relationship building with shop owners.

Trust and credibility are two essential components of relationship building. Before you can attempt to sell anything, you have to make a positive, professional first impression. We have all heard the saying, “You never get a second chance at a first impression.” A salesperson’s image is one of his greatest assets. The best way to leave a lasting first impression is to look your best, dress appropriately, smile, and offer a firm handshake with an exchange of names to set the stage.

It has often been said that we buy things from people we like, and we typically want to do business with people who are positive and exude a competent demeanour. A salesperson’s attitude goes hand in hand with his outward image. You will communicate credibility when you are proud of the organization you represent without showing arrogance. Be honest and truthful and don’t exaggerate what your products can do, as it is always in your best interest not to oversell and under-deliver.

Once you’ve taken care of the basics, it’s time to get in front of your customer. However, all too often valuable time is lost when salespeople present to the wrong people or lack the flair required to extract important information from the customer. When you ask all the right questions, deals can be closed and long-term customer relationships can be created and sustained. Find out who makes the buying decisions and meet with him. Once you understand the “why” and “how” of your customer’s needs, you can gather the right information to present him with the right solution to satisfy those needs.

Know your stuff. In today’s competitive business environment, no matter what the industry, a potential customer will not be willing to do business with a salesperson who doesn’t have a comprehensive understanding of the products he’s selling–and that includes what your rival is offering. Be prepared with all of the knowledge required to convince the customer that your products or services are the best ones to solve his issues, and that includes competitive product knowledge as well.

When you do get the opportunity to present your products face to face, try a customer-focused approach, as opposed to the quick-sale style. Get to know the customer by first building some common ground. Look around his office and compliment something he’s done well. Keep the conversation moving and avoid any type of controversy. For example, imagine he tells you the only reason he’s willing to look at your products is that he refuses to do business with your competitor, because he doesn’t get along with their salesperson. Refrain from jumping on the bandwagon. Stay neutral and offer a statement such as, “We are glad you’ve given us the opportunity to service all of your needs, as we consider ourselves to be the best in the business.”

The sales profession comes with a cycle of highs and lows. To keep the roller-coaster ride at a minimum, focus on motivation and goal-setting. These two common components of selling can become challenging over time and they both require constant attention. It’s easy to love the sales profession when we’re closing deals, getting in front of lots of potential customers, and presenting our new and improved products and services–but how do you combat the dips that ultimately come after a period of high motivation? Find the good in every call, learn something new every day, remember your successes, take risks, and stay away from negative people. When you set your goals, be sure they are better than your best.

Another way to help combat the downside of the sales cycle is to keep your lead and future customer pipeline full. Don’t wait for one sale to close before you go looking for another one. A salesperson’s ability to follow up successfully after every lead, telephone message, and after every sale will keep things consistent, and insure that new, repeat, and referral business continually comes into the shop.

The sales process never stops at the order. Sure, we need orders to stay in business, but the after-sale process, including the transference of vital and accurate information back to the shop, is every bit as important. If the details are not communicated thoroughly and error-free, there will be no customer satisfaction or repeat/referral business. Do things right the first time to be sure you don’t have to do it all over again. Handle the paperwork efficiently. Communicate the order to the appropriate members of your team back at the shop. Follow up to make sure it’s delivered on time.

A true sales champion will check and double-check everything for accuracy, and as a result, will enjoy a long career serving a base of customers who wouldn’t want or need to go anywhere else.


Following in the footsteps of the Inside Sales: Parts Counter Professional course, CARS and Durham College’s Corporate Training Division deliver their second of sixteen educational programs directed at outside sales in the parts industry.


For more information on inside sales training, visit CARS OnDemand training at contact CARS at 1-888-224-3834