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Guest Commentary: Professional Selling In Today’s Automotive Aftermarket Is A Contact Sport

There is a danger in selling only through emails and social media. Of course, the internet is an effective tool. The question to ponder is: Can you really understand the customer’s goals and needs without human contact?

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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.

Photo credit: iStock.com/xijian

As the automotive aftermarket enters an exciting new year, at all levels of the distribution channel, organizations will be focusing on their strategic plans, key business objectives, tactics, customer initiatives, budgets and sales forecasts. Indeed, sales and customer support are the engines that drive our industry. Wisdom tells us that you cannot make a sale, until you contact a customer.

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There is a danger in selling only through emails and social media. Of course, the internet is an effective tool. The question to ponder is: Can you really understand the customer’s goals and needs without human contact? Trust in relationships both personal and business is developed and enhanced by human contact. Human contact grants us the opportunity to listen (not just hear) to others, to paraphrase what the customer said and to move the conversation to a higher level. And, to truly engage the customer!

Does your professional sales team have the mindset that sales is a contact sport? It requires being active, an investment of time, training, planning, strategy and tactics. Your sales force is the face of your company to your customer. Prospecting is more important than ever! The key is to earn the right to have time with the prospect, and to be seen as a credible influencer, one who shares useful information with the customer. In 2019 the old rules apply: People buy from people they like and trust. Human contact is required.

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An effective way to share your company’s value proposition and uniqueness is with human contact. Face-to-face communication fosters and boosts collaboration and creativity through the ability to share ideas more freely. Human contact is more than exchanging words. It guides to observe and detect body language, feelings, tone and inflection, which can be – and often are – misinterpreted through digital methods of communicating.

In today’s digital age, the importance of face-to-face communication seems to be fading. Some people can go all day without interacting with another human being (sad). Professional human contact selling can improve effectiveness and efficiency. The personal touch builds a sense of community and a better working relationship. Human contact selling allows you to show your true personality, emotions, listening skills and reactions is the foundation of customer loyalty. Non-verbal cues are just as crucial as the words we say. Facial expressions can indicate different thoughts and feelings and perceptions. Human contact selling is the best way to address sensitive issues. The key is to think about the desired outcome and the mindset of the customer.

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Face-to-face selling minimizes the risk of miscommunication and promotes more positive business practices. It also clearly demonstrates that you value the other person, and it protects confidentiality.

Being a successful aftermarket sales professional requires emotional intelligence, and requires taking responsibility for your actions. Human contact enhances your and your company’s integrity. Selling is a life skill. We can all learn from our customers and prospects. It is time to start your professional sales engine and contact a customer.

Hit the gas pedal hard and accelerate in ways that delight your customers.

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