Internet Eddie: Monday Migraine or Valued Customer?

Sponsored by The AAM Group

How often does a customer come into your shop and already know more about a specific product than you or your team? Traditionally, customers would walk into your shop, tell you what they’re looking for, and rely on your suggestions. With today’s endless online blogs, forums, YouTube videos and social media spots, however, it’s easy for customers to learn everything there is to know about nearly any product under the sun. We call these hyper-researched customers “Internet Eddies.”

How can you keep up with these customers to retain your reputation as your area’s local product authority? Let’s start with one Internet Eddie and his quest for the perfect gooseneck hitch. Internet Eddie saw one of his favorite content creators talk about a new “must have” gooseneck hitch. Determined to learn everything he could, Eddie went to the manufacturer’s website and read about all the features and benefits of said hitch. He even did a few price comparisons to round out his research. Finally, he clicked on the dealer locator and drove to his local accessories shop to talk to “Carl.”

Eddie walks in and says, “I want this new gooseneck hitch. I read all about it online, and it’s exactly what I’m looking for. Do you have one I can buy?”

Carl, being a well-trained professional, replies, “Do you mind if I ask you a few questions?”

After a bit of investigating, Carl realizes that this hitch does not have the optimal weight rating for Eddie’s application. Carl suggests some alternatives he knows will work better with Eddie’s application, but Eddie declines: he’s committed to this hitch. After a couple of weeks, however, Eddie returns to the shop with a sheepish smile on his face. “You were right,” he says. “What was that other hitch you suggested?”

This example illustrates why counterperson knowledge is so critical. Eddie is not a hitch expert. He read a few things about one hitch online but wasn’t experienced enough to note the technical specifications. Carl, however, understands the ins and outs of the hitch category and towing in general. He’s seen why purchases fail and why they succeed. Using this knowledge, he has successfully turned this Internet Eddie into a trusting customer by providing him the benefit of his experience and expertise.

But good product consultants are made, not born. And with today’s labor shortages and serial staff turnover, how does the new generation of counterpersons learn to become product experts like Carl?

Trade Shows

Quite possibly the most appealing way to see new products is to attend trade shows like the SEMA Show or PRI. Hundreds of manufacturers in one place, ready to answer questions about products, is a great way to learn. But in recent years, shop owners have increasingly said that making it to these events is getting more challenging.

First, travel costs are skyrocketing. The average cost to attend trade shows can hit well into the thousands of dollars—and that’s just for one attendee. Taking along staff for training gets even more prohibitive.

Second, shutting down your shop so you and your staff can attend a trade show can be a tough—and expensive—pill to swallow. Especially right before the holidays.

Many jobbers, resellers, and installers are therefore opting not to attend trade shows. Not because they don’t want to, but because they can’t afford the expense or time away.

The Event: The Aftermarket’s Best Virtual Product Expo

AAM’s The Event was designed to address both of those objections. Hosted by Stacey David and presented by a panel of distribution product experts, this FREE virtual product expo showcases the best new products for the coming year—and you don’t need to leave your shop to attend. Products are presented in two formats: easy-to-watch category videos lasting about 10 minutes each and focused deep-dive videos that go into greater detail for those wanting to learn more. Best of all, your entire shop team can benefit from the product education: pause a video, take a phone call or greet a customer and resume at their convenience.

Resellers and their employees can register FREE at AAMEvent.com. Starting Nov. 28 and continuing through December 12, The Event will feature one new category video every weekday. Additionally, attendees who watch a category video are entered to win one of that day’s prizes, which include Traeger Pro Series 22 grills, T-shirts, barstools and roll-up tool bags.

About This Sponsored Content

The AAM Group is the largest distribution group in the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) marketplace. Now in its 34th year, the corporation was founded by eight high performance warehouse distributors that sought to achieve cooperative scaled purchasing and marketing advantages. The AAM Group now counts 20 member-companies operating 69 distribution centers throughout North America.

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