Fact-based technician sales will enhance the bottom line

Jan. 1, 2020
Are technicians losing out on readily achievable sales simply because they're actually afraid to adequately sell the very parts and services that they're in business to provide?
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LAS VEGAS — Are technicians losing out on readily achievable sales simply because they're actually afraid to adequately sell the very parts and services that they're in business to provide?

"Often their goal is to sell the least amount of parts possible," according to William "Mac" McGovern, director of marketing and training for KYB America, LLC, who presented a session entitled "Becoming an Informist" at the recent Automotive Distribution Network Fusion '07 conference.

He presents several points for service providers to ponder:

  • Are you making decisions for your customers?
  • Are you under-selling because you're actually afraid of them? ("The guy's going to think I'm a thief or pirate for selling him a $300 brake job.")
  • Do you believe that recommending additional services will cause them to go somewhere else?
  • Do you think that only replacing bad or failed parts makes you a better shop?

"Creating a balance between having a great relationship with your customer and having a profitable experience is essential to grow your business," says McGovern.

"Fear of selling is nothing more than the lack of facts to base a sale on."

"Being an informist is to put away emotional assumptions or conclusions about prejudging" how a customer will react to a description of the required repair.

"You're assuming that you don't have the ammunition to make the sale," McGovern continues, "and you probably aren't very prepared to sell all you can; fear of selling is cured with facts – so replace fear with facts."

Obtaining the necessary facts to conquer this element of fear that's holding a shop owner back can be accomplished in-house by turning technicians into internal salespeople and turning service advisors into internal customers, he suggests.

The technician has to pitch the service advisor on the need for particular parts or procedures.

"The sale has to occur twice," explains McGovern. "The first is between the technician and service advisor." The service advisor is then able to relay the situation to the customer.

"The intelligent person — given enough facts — will purchase the repair. A higher percentage of consumers will purchase more or up-purchase more if they have enough facts."

And compiling a factual, unemotional description to the customer is achieved by preparing a series of standards that determine what recommendations are made.

McGovern, himself a 30-year service provider veteran, has prepared a series of checklists for KYB.

"You want to describe accurately the condition of the part rather than describing it in ambiguous terms that can be disputed or argued."

This means avoiding terms such as "worn," "bad" or "junk" when discussing the matter at hand.

"Step back and look at yourself and see how that can become counterproductive to both you and your customer's goals. You can injure both your own sales as well as your customer's goals," he notes.

Going the worn-bad-junk route of description invites a myriad of unintended consequences through either overselling or underselling. A customer could declare that "this is the last straw" and purchase a new vehicle. Or, after leaving a shop, the matter may weigh on the customer's mind so heavily that the repair is purchased elsewhere during an oil change. Or an expressed lack of urgency could result in a costly breakdown during a long-awaited vacation road trip.

"Instead of saying, 'Hey, we think you need a new fan belt,' you can say, 'this belt has three cracks or chunks missing.'"

The actual numbers and thresholds, of course, will vary with the specific market or operation. "Each shop should come up with a comfort level" for what is needed.

For example, standards in tropical Hawaii will likely be different than in Montana's Big Sky country or a desert retirement community or the mountains of Appalachia.

Wherever you happen to be, "convey the condition of the parts clearly and effectively," McGovern advises."Become a 'coach' only if you are asked," he adds.

"You can tell the customer, 'There are six cracks in this belt. When we find six cracks we usually recommend replacement.'"

Coaching shouldn't be offered unless the customer replies, "Do I need it today?'" When they ask that question, they're asking for your help.

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