How to Convince Your General Manager to Sell Parts Online

You’re ready to take your parts department to the next level with an effective online sales strategy, but you’re having trouble convincing your general manager to invest the money into it. 

Here’s an in-depth guide to how you can convince your GM to start selling parts online.

Set The Scene

Remember, this is essentially your pitch to your general manager. Just like any pitch, you need to give your GM some context about the current state of the parts department. This is where you need to address your concerns.

What do you feel is working well for you and your team? What do you feel isn’t working well? This is where you need to grab their attention.

Show Them What Your Competitors Are Doing

You can’t present an idea to your general manager without evidence to support your argument. So, what do you need to bring to the table when you have this discussion with your GM? 

First, you need to give them a competitor analysis. Competitor analysis is a breakdown of what your direct competitors are doing that successfully drives their online business. Knowing what the competition is doing successfully will help you determine the areas you need to improve and the key advantages your dealership has compared to them. 

What to Include in Your Competitor Analysis

  • Top Strategies – What tactics are your competitors using to drive success? Are they selling on multiple platforms? Do they have strong social media marketing? How strong is their website SEO? Use all of this information as a benchmark to help you move in the right direction with your eCommerce strategy. Look at direct and indirect competition to get a baseline.
  • Key Differentiators – What do your competitors have that you don’t have? It could be a customer loyalty program, a monthly newsletter, a personalized auto accessories tool, or something else altogether. Identify what gives them an edge and think about if you can effectively match them in that aspect.
  • Market Trends – At the end of the day, your top competitors are responding to changes in the market. You need to know what those changes are and how your competitors are responding to them. If you can match them here, you stand a chance to increase your profitability.

Show Them What Your Parts Department is Generating in Current Revenue

Now that you and your GM have a baseline understanding of how your competitors are performing, it’s time to focus on how your parts department is currently performing. In order to show the value of a strong parts eCommerce presence to your GM, you need to show them the growth potential compared to where you’re performing now. 

What do you need to present to your general manager to give them a solid understanding of the business your parts department is currently generating?

Break Down Your Current Sales

You have to know where you are now in order to know where you’re going. It’s important that your and your general manager look at the parts department’s current sales. Break down your sales by category, customer type, sales season, and sales offers. If you can identify what sold well and what didn’t, you can better understand how your sales tactics need to change. 

Discuss Your Current Sales Tactics

It’s not enough to know what sells well and what doesn’t sell well. You need to know why something sells or doesn’t sell. What sales tactics are you currently using? Are they helpful, or are they harmful? Do your current tactics help you reach your goals? If not, make it clear to your GM that it’s time to reevaluate your strategy. 

What Factors Support Your Sales Approach?

Every parts department has a few key factors that contribute to its sales growth. You need to understand what yours are and why they help. An example might be a strong wholesale customer network. If you have wholesale customers who often refer your dealership for parts customers, implementing a referral program might be a good idea. Incentivizing those customers will help build upon existing relationships and grow sales simultaneously. 

What Limitations Are Impacting Your Sales Growth? 

Your GM isn’t going to see the value of a robust eCommerce strategy if you only focus on what’s going well in your parts department without one. If you’re going to convince them to invest in eCommerce tools, you need to show them the limitations your parts department experiences without them.

Introduce Software Could Increase Revenue

Now that you’ve given the full scope of your parts department’s current performance, it’s time to show them how you can transform it with an eCommerce strategy. This is when you present the solutions you think will best suit your parts department’s needs and tie them to your growth objectives. 

List the eCommerce Tools You Want

What are the eCommerce tools you need to achieve your goals? Do you need a website, a marketplace seller account, or a social media page? Identify the tools you need to align your sales strategy with these new eCommerce processes. 

Here are a few to keep in mind:

  • eCommerce Selling Platform – An online platform that makes it easy for you to list, sell, and ship your products to parts buyers. This can be a website, a marketplace, an app, or all of the above. eCommerce platforms should be the first item you address with your general manager.
  • Customer Relationship Management Software (CRM) – A software system that helps manage customer communication, set up appointments, reminders, and gather customer satisfaction data after the completion of a purchase.
  • Email Marketing Software – Software that helps you craft, send, and track email marketing campaigns to market your parts business.

Provide Examples Of How They Work

If your general manager is unfamiliar with these types of tools, take this time to educate them. Show them examples of eCommerce tools that you want to use in the parts department. Look at any material that shows how those tools impacted the growth of other companies. Case studies, customer reviews, and testimonials can all work in your favor when presenting your argument. 

Bring Data to Back Up Your Argument

Bringing data to the table is essential. If you’re looking at specific solutions with a track record of success, bring their standard metrics to your meeting with your GM. How much revenue does their average retailer generate? What marketing service provider has the best ROI? You’ll need to do some intense research into each of the eCommerce solutions you want to use. From there, you can make final projections for your department’s sales growth.

Are They Not Sold On It? Don’t Panic. 

Let’s say after all of this; your GM still isn’t sold on eCommerce. Don’t panic. This is the time to answer questions, work through problems, figure out a budget, and determine the next steps in the process. 

Here are some common objections your GM might have and how you should respond to them.

I don’t see the value in investing in this just for the parts department. 

Your Response: Fewer people are buying new vehicles and opting to keep their older cars for longer. That makes them prime customers for the parts department. An eCommerce strategy will help us market our dealership to them, capture their business, and generate repeat business at the dealership to make up for the loss of vehicle sales. 

eCommerce tools are too expensive. 

Your Response: That’s not always true. It depends on how many new tools and solutions you bring on at once. If we want to test out the waters, we can get a custom web store or a website plugin that we can instantly start using at little cost to us. 

This seems like it will be a slow process. When do you think we’ll see real results? 

Your Response: With consistent training for our staff members, we can get up and running in as little as a month. With the right training in place, we can expect to see growth in (x amount) of months.

Grow Your Parts Sales Together

If you’re having trouble talking about an eCommerce plan with your GM, don’t worry. Use these points to outline a proposal that they can’t refuse. Come prepared with talking points, competitor data, and a list of resources you want your parts department to use. 

Want more resources to help you start this conversation? Get more insights into how to facilitate this conversation with the help of this free eBook!

Combat Staffing Shortages in the Parts Department

Combat Staffing Shortages in the Parts Department

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