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Import Insights: Delivering the Sale


9/21/2006
By Gary Garberg

 

‘Delivering the sale’ can mean a lot of things to a lot of people. For me, it means jumping through whatever hoops I need to jump through to get the parts my customer needs.

From my domestic parts background, I remember completing nearly every sale on the first pass. That is, we usually had everything each customer requested on the shelf, so all we had to do was identify the parts, pull and invoice them. Most sales were complete in just a few minutes.

For import specialists, it is usually not quite that easy, because we don’t always have all of the parts in stock in every location. For this reason, “delivering the sale” becomes extremely important. “Delivering the sale” means jumping through whatever hoops we must to complete the sale and to have the customer accept the conditions of bringing all of the pieces of the sale together.

The first part is not so difficult, especially for our more experienced countermen. But, getting the customer to accept any alternative to walking out the door with all of his parts in hand, is another story.

We have five parts stores in the Las Vegas valley and once every hour, each store has a transfer run from our main warehouse location. In the very best scenario, a store that requires a non-stocked part can get it in an hour or less. Most of the time, we “deliver the sale” by assuring the customer that we will have his part within an hour. In today’s world, an hour doesn’t seem so long to most people and the result of this offer is usually positive.

The process becomes a little more challenging as transfer times increase. The need to utilize a local warehouse to complete a sale always extends the amount of time involved in getting a specific part to any store. Now, “delivering the sale” requires a higher degree of salesmanship to get the customer to “buy in” to waiting up to several hours.

Our installer customers are pretty much used to the chain of events in this process, but it is sometimes more difficult to make our retail customers understand the delays associated with sourcing parts. Every now and then, when it’s going to take an unreasonable amount of time to source a part for retail customers, we offer to deliver it to their home, if they are willing to pay for it in advance. This offer catches them off-guard. Most are surprised that we would offer such service and say that they appreciate us extending the offer, but few take advantage of it. Just the offer seems to ease their frustration about delays and helps keep everything positive.

“Delivering the sale” when the part a customer needs is one or more days away, is the ultimate challenge for a counter pro and requires the highest degree of skill and salesmanship to not lose the customer. One of the key ingredients to a successful sale under these circumstances is empathy for the customer and demonstrating a genuine commitment to getting their parts in the very shortest time possible. Your degree of sincerity will mean everything to the customer, who will obviously be disappointed with the news that the part will be delayed.

I have personally experienced a customer who was totally elated because we got the part he needed “in just three days.” Three days is forever in our industry, but our counterman did such a good job in “delivering the sale,” the customer felt lucky to get the parts so quickly. Instead of telling the customer that he had some really bad news for him, he told the customer that he had really great news: that these parts usually take up to a week or more to get, but he would have them in only three days!

“Delivering the sale,” any sale, can require lots of different steps, but none is more important than getting your customer to “buy in” to accepting the conditions that are less than their initial expectation. Experiencing customer elation when you are clearly not meeting their initial expectations is the sign of a seasoned, professional counterman.

Isn’t that what we are all striving to be?













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