While the overall impact of COVID 19 has been negative, for a variety of reasons, the sale of used auto parts has been robust in 2020. We have been riding a wave of sales that in some ways defies logic. During this period of time, we have seen a visible decrease in the number of engines and transmissions in our warehouses. We have also seen that the higher mileage units will sell once the lower mileage units disappear.
The underlying question on all of this is, are you a better salesperson now than you were before? Does selling more than before really mean that you are better at your craft? The sales training and management that we do has us talking to a lot of salespeople and listening to a lot of sales calls. There are a multitude of times that the salesperson says all the wrong things and tries to discourage the customer from buying the part and the customer still buys it. It is a legitimate question to ask if the salesperson sold the part or the part sold the part. Many times, if not most, the customer is aware of the price and availability. We are referring to this as an ELP which stands for Electronically Located Part.
ELP has made the selling of used parts simpler in some ways but it is more risky than ever for the traditional salesperson. You have to remember that on a computer screen, all parts look the same. The mindset of the customer is that the parts that are being shown are of good quality and accurately priced. As constant buyers of used parts, we know that is not anywhere close to the truth as there are differences in each of us henceforth the reputation of the recycler. An ELP gives substandard recyclers an opportunity to price parts and be a part of the problem. We also expose our customers to the rest of the world and they may find someone else they like to deal with that works against your sales.
How do I incorporate the ELP to be a strength to me with the customer? The ELP is something that will continue to grow and flourish in our industry. It is a way to drive prices down and performance of the recyclers up. The proverbial law of the jungle with the strong surviving. The way that I protect myself as a salesperson is by building relationships with the used part buyer. The wholesale customer can find part at the price point they are looking for if they just stay diligent to the hunt. We do not want them to hunt the part, we want them to realize the value in the relationship with their salesperson.
We have a tendency to focus in on making the sale on the part that they are asking for that we lose track of the need to sell ourselves to them. Parts are just parts but the relationship is what fixes the problems that occur. Problems are a large part of what we do. Credit / return rates, damaged & missing parts coupled with over ordering for the job and customer no shows lead to a lot of negativity for not only ourselves but for our customers as well.
Understand of this game is being played moving forward and make sure you are selling relationships that happen to trade in auto parts and not the other way around. You will then truly be getting better at your craft instead of just selling more.
Mike Kunkel Lee Worman
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