Years ago, I spoke at a banquet for top salespeople. Before I gave my talk, the speaker introduced someone in the audience and said, “This man earned twice the national average in sales last year…” The speaker’s manner suggested that it was quite an achievement. But, considering the large number of successful sales professionals in the room, that feat wasn’t all that impressive. So everyone craned their necks and looked at the man in puzzlement. The next words out of the speaker’s mouth made all the difference. He said, “and he’s totally blind.”
There was a burst of applause. Then, the speaker said, “I’m sure many of us are wondering how you got into the top third in sales achievement with your handicap.”
“Wait a minute,” the blind man replied, “I don’t have a handicap. I have an advantage over every other salesperson in my field. I have never seen a product I’ve sold, so I have to close through my buyers’ eyes. What I do is what all of you sighted people could do. And you’d make more money if you did.”
He’s 100% correct. You must see the benefits, the features, and the limitations of your vehicles from the buyer’s viewpoint. You must weigh those benefits on their scale of values, not yours.
Get yourself out of the way.
Buyers don’t come to your dealership to find out what you like. They don’t know you and don’t care what you drive…unless you drive a competitor’s vehicle. If you do drive a make that is different from what you sell, don’t mention it. It will make your buyers doubt your sincerity as you tout the benefits of Make A when you’ve just told them you drive Make B.
Also, if you would drive a Make A vehicle but can’t afford it, don’t tell them that either. They’ll wonder just how good you are at your job. Think about it for a moment. When you intend to make a purchase, who do you want to have help you? The newbie? The salesperson who is consistently on the bottom of the sales chart? Or, one of the pros who are in the top 10% of the pack?
Always keep in mind that people don’t just buy your vehicles. They buy the dealership’s reputation. They buy the brand credibility. And, they buy you, personally. They need to feel that you’re a product of the product—that you truly believe in what you sell. If you’re not sincere about your belief in the benefits of the make of vehicle that you sell, it will show in your demeanor or come out in something you say and your credibility with your buyers will be blown.
Everything you say and do impacts the buyer’s level of confidence in your competence.
People will say yes to you based more on your conviction and enthusiasm than your product knowledge. If you don’t truly love the vehicle brand and models that you sell, you need to either fall in love with them or find another make to represent. Your lack of love for what you do will show through and instill something other than confidence in your potential buyers.
Don’t tell them what you like about the vehicles.
Stop turning potential buyers off by saying, “What I like most about this feature is…” As I said, they don’t care what you like and they don’t care as much about features as they do the benefits those features bring to them. They need you to care about what they like…and want…and need.
The only way to learn what their needs are is to ask questions. Average automotive salespeople think their job is to capture the clients when they walk in, ask generally what they’re looking for, and quickly start walking in the direction of those models.
Champion automotive salespeople don’t do that until they’ve gotten the buyer talking about what their new vehicle needs to do for them and learning how much research they’ve already done. The only talking you should be doing at this point in the sales cycle is asking questions.
“What brought you in to our dealership today?”
“Are you interested in a new vehicle, or were you thinking of something used?”
“What type of driving do you do? Mostly in town? Or, longer highway driving?”
“Do you typically carry a lot of cargo? Or, are you more likely to have a car full of passengers?”
“What type of gas mileage do you get in your current vehicle? Is that an important aspect of your decision today?”
Do you see how these types of questions help you mentally filter through the hundreds of vehicles on the lot? Even if Jim Martin comes in saying he wants a new 4-wheel-drive truck, you may learn that Jim’s wife is expecting their first child soon and that they’ll need an extended cab at the least…something young Jim may not be thinking of because he’s always had a single-cab truck and likes them.
Mary Porter may come in wanting something sporty, but in drawing her out, you learn that she has two big dogs that she takes along on trips out of town on the weekends. In that case, the definition of “sporty” just went from being a two-seater to something different, didn’t it?
Another advantage of asking questions is to learn how much knowledge the buyers already have about makes and models. Some will have done a great amount of research online. They may have friends or loved ones who already own that model and want the same benefits. You’ll be wasting your time and theirs if you start every sales presentation the same way because your buyers won’t all be at the same starting point. With the right questions, you will quickly jump onto the ‘same page’ they’re on so you can take the best next step in your presentation—making a great impression of being someone who truly listens and cares.
You are an expert advisor in the automotive industry. When people talk about their needs, you think solutions. Most of your buyers will make vehicle ownership decisions once every 2 – 3 years. You are involved in those decisions daily and know so much from the experience your clients have with their vehicles. You think beyond basic wants and needs and go deeper into what’s truly going to be the best choice.
There’s an old saying that “Knowledge is power, when properly applied.” Keep that in the forefront of your mind when you speak with potential buyers. The more knowledge you gain about their needs, wants, desires and financial situation, the more likely you are to help them make a wise decision about their next vehicle…and the one after that.