This Month’s Selling Principle:
21st Century Turns
How far should a salesperson take the transaction before they get someone else involved? When is the right time to make a turn? What is the best way to make a turn? Should turns even be made?
These are questions common to virtually every car training event I’ve been involved in. My colleagues and I (in the training field) each have our own experiences, theories, and guidelines. Some of them differ wildly. And even though a few of us like to think we know the hard and fast rules of turning, in truth, there only exist general guidelines and, at best, theories. Mine are no better than the others, to be sure, but here is what I believe, having learned from my own experience and from the experiences of my attendees.
As to the first question, I believe each of us, salesperson and manager alike, should take each transaction at least one step past our own competency level. We shouldn’t bail out on our customer, and ourselves, at the first hint of customer resistance or the first taste of our own discomfort. Actually, a good guideline to excellence is making sure we take each transaction past our own comfort level.
If we find ourselves losing rapport with our customer, we should make at least one attempt, and probably several, to hook back up with them. If we are unable to get a today commitment, we should try at least one, and probably seven, other ways to ask them for their business. If we are in a challenging closing scenario, we should try at least one new closing technique or strategy. I am not suggesting that we should “burn out” a customer before we get help but I also believe turning too early is just as costly in the long run.
When is the right time to make a turn? This one is relatively easy to answer. As soon as WE become the impediment to our customer’s satisfaction, that’s when we need to get someone else to serve them. Maybe they require more expertise on our product than we currently possess. Maybe they have a problem with our color, gender, or something else. Maybe WE have a problem with THEIR color or gender or something else (in which case, perhaps we should reconsider pursuing a career in customer service?). Maybe we’re just off our game that day. In any case, if WE are the reason they can’t do business with our dealership, then WE owe it to them and our employer to get someone else involved.
The best way to make a turn is to make it to our customer’s benefit to work with the new person. Tugging on our tie, excusing ourselves to “get them our card”, or just blurting out, “Oh, I have an idea!” are no longer effective ways to make a turn.
I do train outside the car industry also. Whenever my non-auto industry clients discover I’m a car guy, they usually barrage me with questions and criticisms of the car biz (like I control it or something.) Once, a lady commented, “You guys in the car business must have the biggest business cards on Earth!” Naturally, I asked her what she meant by that. She replied, “Well, because it always takes two of you to bring one out!” Our customers do know what we’re up to!
We need to be up-front with our customer (like always) and share with them why we feel that this new person can better serve their needs.
“It’s obvious to me, Mr. Customer, that you require a lot more information than I can provide. This is an important decision and I don’t want to lead you astray. Let me introduce you to my associate Sarah. She’s one of our resident truck experts and a sweetheart to boot. Excuse me a second, okay?”.
“I sense that we aren’t hitting it off very well. And it’s probably just me being a little off my best today. I apologize. You know, we have someone working here named Jimmy that reminds me a lot of you. You two even have some of the same mannerisms. I’m sure you guys will get along great. Let me get him for you, alright?”
“Mr. and Mrs. Customer, I’ve taken us about as far in these negotiations as I can. If we are going to get anywhere close to the payment you need, we had better get Mark involved. He’s my team leader and actually works the best with the manager currently on duty. You’ve already given me your vote of confidence. I owe it to you to give you the best shot at getting you what you want. Sound fair?”
Basically, it’s 1) acknowledging the problem (and taking ownership of it, remember, if a turn is needed then we are the problem), 2) presenting the solution, and then 3) getting their permission.
By the way, we need to make sure the new person IS a solution, meaning they should be more competent than we are at the moment or in this instance. And it is important, to our customer and the person we are turning to, that we get the customer’s permission to introduce someone new. This reduces the customer resistance, sets the stage for success for both our client and our colleague, and is as simple as asking, “Sound good?” or “Does that make sense?” or “Shall we?”.
Now let’s briefly talk about turns from our BDC or Internet departments. There are two types of BDC/Internet departments; one that takes the prospect through the entire sales process and the other that takes care of the preliminaries and then turns the prospect to a salesperson or product specialist when they arrive at the dealership. For the latter, I strongly suggest informing the prospect up front how your store intends to help them. (“Ms. Prospect, I am the one who will help you with all the preliminary details of your purchase. I am responsible for providing you an outstanding and super easy buying experience. I will then introduce you to a product specialist who will help you with your vehicle orientation and who will assist you moving forward. They will be responsible for providing you an outstanding ownership experience for however long you own your new vehicle.”)
I have personally seen the look of disappointment on the prospect’s face when, upon arriving at the dealership, they discover that they aren’t actually going to work with the person who they already feel comfortable with. That disappointment is compounded when the salesperson they are assigned to knows nothing or very little about what’s already transpired. So, not only do I strongly suggest assigning a salesperson/product specialist BEFORE the prospect shows up for their appointment, I obviously suggest that the BDC/Internet rep brief the assigned salesperson. Then the assigned salesperson can shoot the prospect a quick introduction video like this:
Finally, should turns even be made? My answer to this is a qualified yes. As long as it is to our customer’s advantage to get a new person involved, then we owe it to them, our employer, and ourselves to do so.
So, until next time, be well, and do good work!
Michael D. Hargrove
“The man who graduates today and stops learning tomorrow is uneducated the day after.”
Objection of the Month: “I don’t want all this back and forth stuff.”
These are just a few of the most common strategies shared at the workshops we’ve conducted all across North America and attended by thousands of the top sales people in our field. Please keep in mind that nothing works all the time, and no one thing will work for everybody. Each of these strategies, of course, need to be tailored to the individual user, to the specific customer, and the particular situation. Also, this is by no means the definitive work on overcoming this particular objection and it’s not intended to be.
a. “Don’t you hate that? Me too! Whenever I’m forced to negotiate that way I always feel like a clown in a circus! So I’ll tell you what. If I end up doing that today, you have my permission to reach out and squeak my big red nose! Fair enough?”
b. “The only time I end up having to do the back and forth stuff is when I’m helping a customer who’s totally unrealistic. Now, you don’t want us to make a killing on you, but you do expect us to make a fair profit, right? See, you’re realistic … we won’t have to go through all that.”
c. “Our obligation at this dealership is to show you the best way to own this vehicle. Now, the best way, of course, is to pay cash, however, most of us aren’t able to do that. The next best way is to finance as small a balance as possible for the shortest amount of time. After showing that to you, if we need to make adjustments to suit your particular situation, we’ll do it together. Sound fair?”
d. “Let’s do this. Right now, let’s just agree to disagree in an agreeable fashion. That way no one will ever have to get upset. Does that sound doable? “
e. “Mr. Customer, please remember that no one can spend YOUR money for you. Rest assured that I know this too. With a little bit of patience, I’ll help both you and the sales manager reach an agreement on terms. Okay?”
f. “Okay, that’s why I’m here! There are two parts of my job. One is to make sure we find the right car for you. The other is to help you and my manager agree to terms. I’m really good at both parts of my job. Will you allow me opportunity to prove this to you?”
g. “Negotiating with an amateur can be very unpleasant, I know. But I’m a professional. With a little patience and flexibility, I’ll have you out enjoying your new car before you know it!”
Next month’s objection will be: “I’ve got you beat” or “I can get a better deal somewhere else.” We need YOUR input! Please forward your ideas on this one, or your suggestions on which objection to cover next, to [email protected].
“If you want to learn about fear, whatever it is you fear doing, that is the very next thing you need to do. Fear is not a wall; it’s just an emotion. Walk through the fear.”
John-Roger and Peter McWilliams
Stories like this, always have a way of putting the right perspective on life.
Jean Thompson stood in front of her fifth-grade class on the very first day of school in the fall and told the children a lie. Like most teachers, she looked at her pupils and said that she loved them all the same, that she would treat them all alike. And that was impossible because there in front of her, slumped in his seat on the third row, was a little boy named Teddy Stoddard.
Mrs. Thompson had watched Teddy the year before and noticed he didn’t play well with the other children, that his clothes were unkempt and that he constantly needed a bath. And Teddy was unpleasant.
It got to the point during the first few months that she would actually take delight in marking his papers with a broad red pen, making bold X’s and then marking the F at the top of the paper biggest of all. Because Teddy was a sullen little boy, no one else seemed to enjoy him, either.
At the school where Mrs. Thompson taught, she was required to review each child’s records and put Teddy’s off until last. When she opened his file, she was in for a surprise. His first-grade teacher wrote, “Teddy is a bright, inquisitive child with a ready laugh.” “He does his work neatly and has good manners…he is a joy to be around.”
His second-grade teacher wrote, “Teddy is an excellent student well-liked by his classmates, but he is troubled because his mother has a terminal illness and life at home must be a struggle.”
His third-grade teacher wrote, “Teddy continues to work hard but his mother’s death has been hard on him. He tries to do his best but his father doesn’t show much interest and his home life will soon affect him if some steps aren’t taken.”
Teddy’s fourth-grade teacher wrote, “Teddy is withdrawn and doesn’t show much interest in school. He doesn’t have many friends and sometimes sleeps in class. He is tardy and could become a problem.”
By now Mrs. Thompson realized the problem, but Christmas was coming fast. It was all she could do, with the school play and all, until the day before the holidays began and she was suddenly forced to focus on Teddy Stoddard.
Her children brought her presents, all in beautiful ribbon and bright paper, except for Teddy’s, which was clumsily wrapped in the heavy, brown paper of a scissored grocery bag. Mrs. Thompson took pains to open it in the middle of the other presents.
Some of the children started to laugh when she found a rhinestone bracelet with some of the stones missing, and a bottle that was one-quarter full of cologne. She stifled the children’s laughter when she exclaimed how pretty the bracelet was, putting it on, and dabbing some of the perfume behind the other wrist. Teddy Stoddard stayed behind just long enough to say, “Mrs. Thompson, today you smelled just like my mom used to.”
After the children left she cried for at least an hour. On that very day, she quit teaching reading, writing, and speaking. Instead, she began to teach children. Jean Thompson paid particular attention to one they all called “Teddy.”
As she worked with him, his mind seemed to come alive. The more she encouraged him, the faster he responded. On days where there would be an important test, Mrs. Thompson would remember that cologne. By the end of the year he had become one of the smartest children in the class and…well, he had also become the “pet” of the teacher who had once vowed to love all of her children exactly the same.
A year later she found a note under her door, from Teddy, telling her that of all the teachers he’d had in elementary school, she was his favorite. Six years went by before she got another note from Teddy.
He then wrote that he had finished high school, third in his class, and she was still his favorite teacher of all time.
Four years after that, she got another letter, saying that while things had been tough at times, he’d stayed in school, had stuck with it, and would graduate from college with the highest of honors. He assured Mrs. Thompson she was still his favorite teacher.
Then four more years passed and yet another letter came. This time he explained that after he got his bachelor’s degree, he decided to go a little further. The letter explained that she was still his favorite teacher, but that now his name was a little longer. The letter was signed, Theodore F. Stoddard, M.D.
The story doesn’t end there. You see, there was yet another letter that Spring. Teddy said he’d met this girl and was to be married. He explained that his father had died a couple of years ago and he was wondering…well, if Mrs. Thompson might agree to sit in the pew usually reserved for the mother of the groom. And guess what, she wore that bracelet, the one with several rhinestones missing. And I bet on that special day, Jean Thompson smelled just like…well, just like the way Teddy remembered his mother smelling on their last Christmas together.
THE MORAL: You never can tell what type of impact you may make on another’s life by your actions or lack of action. Consider this fact in your venture thru life.
“What you give becomes an investment that will return to you multiplied at some point in the future.”
“Not he who has much is rich, but he who gives much.”
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Retail Automotive Sales: The Professional’s One Day Workshop
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