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Dec 13, 2019

3 Outside Sales Tips for any Operation and Budget to Grow Your OEM Parts Business

Outside sales may seem way beyond your parts department’s capabilities, but in reality, you have more opportunities than you think.

Strategies that work

I’ve worked with parts managers across the country and they have shared outside sales tactics that have worked well and some that, well, haven’t fared so well. With this insight, here are three successful sales tactics that can work for nearly any operation and budget:

Share an outside sales rep. This is one of the most common (and cost effective) tactics for outside sales. Share the expense with other dealerships and spend 1/3 of what it costs for a full-time rep. It also allows single OEM brand dealers to join forces and promote the value of OEM parts vs. aftermarket parts to repair shops. But note, this method can come with some challenges:

  • A sales rep shared among different OEM-branded dealers means you must go in understanding that you’re sharing dealership representation.
  • Their knowledge on your individual manufacturer may not be what you‘re looking for if they’re representing different OEM brands.
  • Since their time is split, they may not be able to provide enough education/program exposure to shops and potential customers.

How do you make sure it’s worth your time and money? The key is hiring a sales rep who understands your OEM parts brand (including various parts programs) and will focus on your business. Large, multi-franchise dealerships take this approach all the time.

1. Pay on Gross. Have a designated parts department employee who works as a sales rep and gets paid commission from the OEM parts wholesale business (collision and mechanical). This person should be well-versed on the product and understand how OEM programs work. They should also be able to educate shops on how to leverage programs to order OEM parts for profitability. The Pay on Gross method is one of the hardest to establish; however, if done well, it’s cost-effective. The rep makes money as the dealer makes money – creating a win-win for everyone.

2. DIY outside sales. This is the least common approach, but the parts manager can double as outside sales. If that’s you, I bet you know your business better than your staff – and you’re probably the best equipped to sell your dealership’s OE parts. That said, it can leave the department vulnerable without a parts manager available.

3. But it is doable. In fact, one Chevy dealer in Northeast Ohio swears by it. Every Wednesday afternoon, the parts manager calls new and existing customers like clockwork. His winning formula includes the ability to make credit and pricing decisions on the spot. He’s also able to build relationships, assess customer satisfaction and keep expenses low with this method. Admittedly, it requires organization and a solid team to make this approach work.

Above anything else, your outside sales goal should be to supplement the growth of your OEM parts wholesale business, but it shouldn’t be your only goal. Don’t forget about your regular customers or you will easily lose them to a competitor.

Keep it going

I saved the best tip for last, and it’s only one word: Repetition. It may take time to discover what method works best for your OEM parts business, but make sure you keep at it once you find it. For more tips to help boost sales, check out: Tips to becoming a pro at selling online that you can do now.

¹Source: Coca-Cola Company, 2016.

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A successful parts department is a powerful way for dealerships to generate additional revenue and higher profit margins.
Learn how successful dealerships grow their parts businesses with these quick tips.