Article > Opinion

A Non-Technical Solution

By Mitch Schneider

Most of us rely on technology every day, but in that reliance we sometimes forget about the people around us.
Mitch Schneider

It’s 10:30 on Tuesday morning and it already feels as if I’ve been at the shop for a week. The phone hasn’t stopped ringing and the problems have been falling like rain.

Does any of this sound familiar? The world we live in is expanding exponentially. The entire universe stands before us, literally at our finger tips and yet none of the advances that have fueled this transformation helps any of us feel more involved or less isolated if we don’t take the time to connect. It isn’t hard to feel isolated and alone when it seems all you’re doing is putting out fires, especially when the flames are crawling up your pants leg.

In our business that means the role factory reps and outside salesmen can play has never been more important. If you’re a shop owner there isn’t much time for anything that takes you away from your core business. If you’re in distribution it means most of your shop customers will be totally involved in writing service, running the shop, servicing vehicles or worse, all three.

That’s where I was this morning, at least until I realized the person on the other side of the counter was a manufacturer’s rep who was at least as interested in sharing what was new and exciting in his world with me as he was in getting his daughter’s car worked on.

Passion is contagious and his excitement was real. He disappeared as soon as I finished writing up the repair order only to materialize with an armful of “stuff.” There were catalogues and brochures, copies of tech articles, press releases and of course, product samples. He walked that fine line between hard selling and delivering important, perhaps even critical information, with the skill that only comes from years of experience and the kind of excitement that generally accompanies knowing that what you do is important.

His company makes products we use every day, yet we had never been exposed to the information he had. We had never seen some of the newer products he had. That doesn’t mean the information wasn’t out there, somewhere. It just means we didn’t see it. Or, if we did, it didn’t register. Certainly, not in the same way it did with an actual living, breathing human presenting it. Those few moments resulted in a phone call and that call resulted in immediate sales — sales that will continue over time, because the products he showed us are staples that we use every day. 

My job is to buy stuff — the best stuff I can buy to keep my customers mobile and on the road for as long as possible. Your job is to sell stuff — the best stuff you can sell in order to help me succeed. However, in order for this to work effectively and efficiently, parts aren’t the only thing that must move across the counter. Information must flow across that counter as well, and it must flow at least as freely as the parts do.

I’m busy. So are you. The world is moving faster every day. We depend on technology more and more to help us keep up, to help us fill in the gaps. But, we can sometimes lose track of the important role people can play in all of this. Don’t let yourself be seduced by the technology despite its allure. The couple of minutes I spent with my customer this morning didn’t just result in commerce, it reinforced a relationship, and that is more important and more valuable than any single sale. In fact, in the end, it may be all that’s important.

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