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Guest Commentary: The Magic Of Feet On The Street

According to James Borg, human communication consists of 93 percent body language and paralinguistic clues, while only 7 percent consists of our words. Our body language speaks louder than our words. The automotive aftermarket was built, in my opinion, on face-to-face communications which resulted in strong relationships.

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John Passante is a broad-based senior executive with over 30 years of extensive organizational development and senior human resource experience with progressive corporations involved in multiple locations, both domestic and international.

By Dr. John A. Passante and Doug Williams, president and CEO of National Sales Inc.

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Permit me to share with you that I prefer face-to-face communications; this, perhaps, flies in the face of evolving technology. The tools for communicating today include smartphones, emails, telephones, texts and skyping. Of course, social media is engrained in our business and personal lives as well.

According to James Borg, human communication consists of 93 percent body language and paralinguistic clues, while only 7 percent consists of our words. Our body language speaks louder than our words. The automotive aftermarket was built, in my opinion, on face-to-face communications which resulted in strong relationships. We have experienced our emails being misunderstood. Face to face meetings reduce the risk of miscommunications.

The facts are: we all need human interaction. Probe yourself to determine if your customers or employees feel disconnected. This, of course, impacts sales and employee performance. Face-to-face communications have a positive influence on motivation. It fosters honesty and candor and lays the foundation for trust to help create a bond, human to human. Thus, it manifests into positive energy, problem solving and innovation and building a future together!

Let us never underestimate the power of the human touch. Indeed, we are all in the people business. Face-to-face discussions plant the seed of collaboration and form partnerships. The key to successful prospecting is meeting face to face. It will increase your conversion rate and guide the prospect to say “yes!” This increases revenue and saves money.

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Important customer issues are best resolved face to face. Can people be inspired by an email or text?

Meeting face to face demonstrates that you value the person. Being told that you are getting a salary increase or a raise via email is void of the joy of human emotion. It enhances the feeling of being valued. Face-to-face communication builds credibility and rapport, and creates a more inclusive and humane business climate which deepens loyal relationships.

Technology cannot out “feel us” as face-to-face communications bring heart to the business equation. The gift of laughter is best shared – face to face!

“Feet on the Street” – by Doug Williams

In today’s highly competitive automotive aftermarket, the need for more face to face interactions with customers and prospects in this virtual business world, has never been greater! Professional sales people bring a face and voice to the customer and enthusiasm and personality to the sales process. Embrace technology but do whatever it takes to maintain regular “personal contact” in order to see their business through the eyes of your customers.

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Can trust be built over the phone with a manufacturer, distributor, jobber or service provider? The magic of feet on the street is that it creates a stronger connection. It is real – in real time, with real people (not artificial intelligence). Professional selling is assisting the customer to make a good decision. Group-buying decisions are more effective when conducted face to face.

Feet in the street aids in communicating your organization’s value proposition, product benefits mission and customer service strategy, and makes the sales cycle shorter.

When John Passante asked me for my thoughts on the importance of feet on the street, I quickly reflected on when I began my career 40 years ago, as a territory sales manager with AP.  Indeed, on the street was the focus of the most aftermarket manufacturers. The order of the day was making face-to-face sales calls, prospecting being the face of the company’s compiling competitive information and being involved in changeovers. We kept our customers informed on marketing programs, trips, pricing changes and catalog updates.

At National Sales Inc. we do indeed keep on customers informed by utilizing technology, the internet, and so on. That said, our sales team makes calls by design, not by chance. We target our face-to-face calls, and listen to the needs of our accounts. Come prepared with an agenda, and quickly respond to the customer after the meeting and address their issues. Our goal is to be viewed as a trusted adviser by our customers trust is developed in my opinion by feet on the street! My personal business passion is to focus on the human element involved in the sales process.  

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The automotive aftermarket remains a relationship business, and that fact is part of the fiber of National Sales Inc. Of course, technology has changed business as we know it today and will continue to bring change to our industry. Let us all never lose sight of the importance of spending quality time with customers or prospects. Technology indeed does some amazing things. However, computers do not have emotions, feelings need personalities or a heart!

Face-to-face feet on the street, opens the door to satisfying customers’ expectations, providing value, a voice and a human emotional experience! Feet on the street, focused on the people we care about…. Our customers!

P.S. We also have vans on the street- which are a powerful tool to reach our customers.

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