Keeping existing accounts happy shouldn't be the only goal of your wholesale parts business. You must also continuously build your wholesale customer base.
Unfortunately, this is where many parts departments encounter big problems.
Capturing new customers is not easy. You must provide prospective wholesale clients with solid reasons why they should abandon their existing supplier and do business with your parts department.
Whether you are targeting totally new prospects or trying to win back former customers, the key is to build relationships and provide solutions.
Just about every parts department operates as if it's a person short. Not all parts departments can devote sales staff to maintaining old accounts and securing new ones.
But such staffing is worth it on some level if you are serious about successfully increasing the wholesale segment of the business.
Here are some suggestions for coordinating your strategy when courting new accounts:
Know the Customer
The first step to winning a new account is to become familiar with the prospective customer's business.
Find out how parts are resold to customers. First, learn information about the potential customers. That's important for making a viable sales presentation.
Keep in mind that you are not the only company vying for this potential wholesale accounts business.
Become Part of a Solution
Before you can present your parts department as a solution, first listen to the potential customer in order to know his business. Careful listening is a skill. Most people focus on making their sales presentation and the sale.
Listening and reading between the lines, for example, could alert you to less than desirable parts availability by the wholesale customer's present supplier. Obviously, this information would be powerful in helping to convince the wholesale customer to try your parts department as a better alternative.
Becoming part of a solution also means forming a symbolic partnership with the customer. Share your thoughts about the wholesale customer's business with him or her as if you were a partner.
When you cross this important threshold, sales for your business will grow out of a trusting relationship. To get a new account, learn a great deal about the prospect. That means asking questions and actively listening.
Offer Something Different
Try to find a sales niche. By first studying the potential customer's operation, you are likely to discover a service or services that you may be able to provide that no one else does. Or you may discover something that you can do better.
When it comes to reaping the benefits of providing great customer service, nothing can do more for building your business than testimonials from actual customers.
The single best way to get new business is to get your existing customers to be advocates of your business.
First, you must have current customers who are more satisfied using your services than if they used the competition.
Second, ask your current customers for help in telling others about your parts service.
As always, ultimate success is proportionate to the amount of time and effort you're willing to commit.
Gary Naples provides parts consulting and training to dealers and manufacturers. Based in Wilkes-Barre, PA, he's written two books on parts management. He's at 570-824-1528.