Our Dealership’s Competitive Advantages

by Michael D. Hargrove     


What do you say when your customer announces, “Wait a minute, I can get this exact same car for $600 less at XYZ Motors. Why should I pay you guys more?!”

I can tell you what the average automobile sales person says. They say something to the effect of, “Well, if I could get you another $600 off, would I be able to earn your business today?”

If that sounds like you, then maybe it’s time to revisit what your store’s competitive advantages are. Some people call it our “spiel.” Some people call it “selling the store.” Some have a “dealership section” in their evidence manuals. Some just orally deliver their “spiel.” However we choose to present it, our “spiel” is the way we justify someone paying a bit more for our products or services.

Now, I know that many times a bit more is earned simply with our ability to build rapport and help our customers to feel more comfortable, valued, and understood. But sometimes that’s not enough or sometimes they still need to be gently nudged with our “spiel.”

Let’s address the two main roadblocks to effectively using a spiel. The first is; we don’t have one, and the second is; they don’t hear it.

If we don’t know what the advantages are, of doing business with us rather than the dealership down the street, then frankly, we don’t deserve to be paid any more than they do. So why not compose our “spiel” right now? Let’s compile our list of competitive advantages over our competition.

Here’s a sample of what some of our dealer clients provide their customers; seven day return policy on any purchased vehicle, free service loan cars, service rental cars, “next stall availability” for service, free shuttle service, (free) pick up and delivery of serviced vehicles, (free) to and from flatbedding of serviced vehicles, (free) 24 hour roadside assistance, free owner’s clinics, (free) enthusiast rallies, preferred service appointments, Saturday service hours, extended service hours, average sales person tenure of XX amount of years, XX amount of years in business, (this make) exclusive factory trained technicians, etc. Each store will differ, of course, in what they provide their clients. Whatever it is that our particular dealership does provide, if we haven’t already done so, we need to compile our list now.

Of course, just like anything else we present to our prospects, we need to point out the benefits and advantages along with each of the competitive features we point out.

Now, let’s make sure they get to hear the whole “spiel.” If we’ve peppered these competitive advantages throughout the transaction, then all we have to do is remind our customers about them when they ask us why our car is a bit more than the other guy’s. If we haven’t done any peppering, then we need to make sure we engage them while presenting our spiel. The famous sales trainer, Brian Tracy, says that when the client is in a defensive state, they can’t hear more than three sentences strung together without tuning us out. Since most of our spiels are way more than three sentences long, we need to present them in a way that encourages the customer to stay tuned in.

One way to do that is with the technique called “Two Decisions.” When our customer states, “Wait a minute, I can get this exact same car for $600 less at XYZ Motors. Why should I pay you guys more?!” we say, “I was hoping you’d bring that up.” That statement will usually peak their attention.

We continue, “Whenever anyone decides to open a business, they have a fundamental business decision to make. They must decide, ‘Am I going to do as much as I possibly can for all of my customers or am I going to do as little as I can get away with?’ And once they make that decision, it will permeate their entire organization, isn’t that true?” By stopping to ask this question, we not only get our customer’s buy-in to this premise, but we also engage them in the discussion.

So we continue, “By the way, why do you think someone would decide to do as little as they could get away with?” Same principle applies here, we now have our customer engaged. We sometimes may have to help them with this answer. “Maybe to control operating expenses? So maybe they could undersell the competition a bit?”

When our customer agrees, we continue, “Well, we’ve decided to do both; represent an excellent product AND provide outstanding service. Now, I know that sometimes we need to be flexible, so YOU tell me Mr. Customer, what would YOU rather us do for you…as much as we possibly can or as little as we can get away with?”

If they pick “as much as we possibly can”, we congratulate them on an excellent decision and explain what they’ve decided to get for themselves by sharing with them our store’s competitive advantages. The beauty of this technique is that they’ve actually bought the “spiel” before we even present it!

If they pick “as little as we can get away with” and state, “I just want the best price!”, we respond with, “Very well, Mr. Customer. In that case, I’m going to need a little help from you. Here’s what we normally offer all of our customers…” and we list out our competitive advantages by writing them down. After we’ve listed them all down, we turn the paper around (facing the customer) and say, “Now, Mr. Customer, which of these services are you willing to exclude yourself from?” Again, they get to hear the whole “spiel” because they’re going to have to “help us” with it. It’s really hard for someone to exclude themselves from services they’ll want to take advantage of later on. If they aren’t willing to exclude themselves from even one or two of our services, they’ve justified to themselves paying us a bit more.

This will not work all the time, of course, and it needs to be adjusted to our individual vocabulary, personality, and the situation. Our personalized “spiel” and the “Two Decisions” technique will help us justify to our customers why it is sometimes to their advantage to pay us a little bit more. Why not add them both to our toolboxes today?

© Copyright 2013 by Michael D. Hargrove and Bottom Line Underwriters, Inc. All rights reserved. Michael D. Hargrove is the founder and president of Bottom Line Underwriters Inc.

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