Auto Service World
Feature   February 1, 2002   by Auto Service World

Sales Training: Selling Like a Pro

Developing your sales skills should not been seen as secondary to product knowledge.

Selling oil and related lubricant products is not as simple as it once was. There’s more to know, and the new standards may elicit questions from both consumers and professional technicians.

Surely by now you are familiar with the “starburst” that appears on the front of most bottles of motor oil, but do you know what it means?

Simply put, it is proof that the product meets the current standards set by the American Petroleum Institute (API) and the International Lubricant Standardization and Approvals Committee (ILSAC), including the Energy Conserving II (or EC II) capability. Currently this standard is identified by the API SL/ILSAC GF-3 designation.

Effectively this restricts starburst carrying oils to the 10W30 and lighter (e.g. 5W30) oils. Though this does not specifically exclude heavier weights, they have not been shown to be capable of meeting the EC-II standard, according to the API.

Of course, there are the perennial benefits of synthetics and the balanced benefits of synthetic blends, too.

However, not all customers will be as concerned about the makeup of standards and practices of the oil industry, and some may even give the impression they don’t really care a fig about the product at all.

At such times, and when dealing with more sophisticated, professional customers, proper sales techniques should be employed in order to ensure that you make the most of the situation.

As odd as it may seem at first glance considering the emphasis placed on product knowledge, successful selling is the result of much self-discovery and taking the appropriate approach with different customers.

Step one in becoming an effective salesperson is to believe you are capable of being successful, outgunning your competitors if you will. Confidence in your abilities and your company’s capability and products is an important component in a successful sales strategy. There are seven characteristics of successful salespeople in any field:

Passion: What drives successful salespeople is the willingness to go that extra mile to achieve the outcome.

Belief: Top sales performers realize they are only limited by their beliefs, their self-imposed limits on what they can achieve.

Strategy: This is where passion meets belief and the two are organized in a sensible way.

Values: Objectives and goals will falter if they come into conflict with your personal values; achieve harmony between values and goals and success increases.

Energy: Energy is created by the goals you create for yourself, and the passion and beliefs that drive you.

Rapport: Success in sales means success with people; rapport is the result of mastering communication.

Modeling: Who do you admire? Who are the successes? Looking at what they do and modeling your performance on theirs can improve your chances of success.

Focusing just on yourself would be as much a mistake as just focusing on your customers. Salespeople are often capable of understanding the need to relate to the customer without addressing their skills for doing so. Selling is a two-way process. You have to understand yourself and hone your approach in addition to learning more about your customers.

An important part of this learning process is reflecting on why things went well or why they did not.

You need to be aware of the impact of your words, actions and body language–counterpeople should be aware of the fact that their body language and facial expressions do affect the tone of their voice and consequently the effectiveness of their communication–and work to change the actions that get in the way of a successful sale.

This requires a concerted effort to think about why success was achieved or not, and perhaps seeking the input from trusted co-workers. The fact is that your approach may seem one way to you, but a different way to others. Ask co-workers how they perceive you. Are you trustworthy, aloof, shifty, professional? Try to develop those qualities that will make people warm to you.

Your sales success–whether for a large or small order–strongly depends on your ability to influence customers. The way you speak, your facial expressions and your body language are important factors in a successful sale, because they provide the foundation for developing successful relationships.

An important reference used in developing this article was the Castrol E-learning Center, which provides online training in a full spectrum of sales and management topics. Contact Castrol Canada for more information.