This Month’s Selling Principle:
Helping Our Customer “Flip The Switch”
Have you ever had a salesperson tell you they’re having trouble asking for the sale between the demo and the write up? If you’re a salesperson, is this problem one you’re familiar with?
First let me reassure you that this is a common challenge for car salespeople today and a fairly simple one to remedy. This challenge is due in no small part to the fact that the way we approached the sale just a handful of years ago is now very often working against both us and our customers.
If we are waiting until after the demo to “ask for the sale” then it’s way too late. Also, if our idea of “asking for the sale” is getting our customer to say “I want to buy your car today” then it’s most likely way too clumsy to be effective. And it’s not your fault. It’s how we were taught in the past by our colleagues, our managers, and guys like me.
Since most customers today have already done a ton of research online to narrow their choices, and since most customers have already made the buying decision (or at least are predisposed to own our product) before they ever leave their homes, the timing of the close and the very idea of what closing is needs to be adjusted accordingly. Closing today needs to be much more subtle and much more frequent than it was in the past.
One common misconception made by car salespeople today is that the negotiation process starts somewhere after the demo. This is simply not true anymore. The negotiation process starts much earlier now, sometimes right at the greeting, and is initiated by our customer. The negotiation process begins whenever the customer brings up their intention of owning our product, the timing of owning our product, or the terms of owning our product. Whenever this occurs, it’s an opportunity for us to help our customer move forward with the purchase.
Another common misconception made by today’s car salesperson is that closing is getting the customer to say “I want to buy your car today.”. As mentioned earlier, most of today’s customers are already predisposed to own our product, therefore closing today really comes down to making it easy for our customer to take action on a decision they’ve already made. It’s simply helping them say, “I think I’d like to move forward a little bit further with this.” and we need to help them say this several times throughout the entire transaction as well as at the end.
Now here comes the scary part. Since everyone agrees that the majority of our customers have time issues just like we do, if we don’t take advantage of each one of these opportunities to move the transaction forward, we’re actually moving it backwards! My most successful clients use each of these subtle closing opportunities to help their customer make the mental buying decision much earlier in the transaction than most salespeople think is possible. I call this ‘flipping the switch’.
Here are some examples; We should make it a consistent part of our greeting to say something like: “I am committed to making sure my guests get all the information they need to make a smart car buying decision. Whether that means they keep us on their list or click us off, I want to make it easy for them to decide. Before we say goodbye to each other, may I do the same for you?” Wait for their reply which almost always is a resounding “YES!” Then tell them, “It would be my pleasure to do that for you too.” When our customer says yes to this, they’ve made their first small commitment to the write up and this is our first subtle close.
Another important thing to remember is there must be an exchange between two people in order for a “close” to occur. This exchange needs to be something of value for something of value. It can be in the form of money, goods, services, acknowledgments, agreements, etc. but there needs to be an exchange of some kind otherwise we’re not closing, we’re just selling.
Throughout the transaction, our customer will bring up their intention, timing, or terms of owning our product and each time they do, it’s an opportunity for us to subtlety close.
Early on, many customers will reflexively say something like, “We just got started shopping, so we won’t be buying today.” In the past we’ve been taught to say variations of either “No problem” or “What would keep you from buying today?” both of which are becoming increasingly ineffective in today’s market.
A much more effective response would be something like this, “That’s what most people do. What I’ve discovered is that most of the guests that I help simply want to find a car they like, get figures on it, and then think about it. Is that what you two had in mind?” When they tell us YES! (Remember there needs to be an exchange for a close to occur), it gives us a chance to reply, “I’d be happy to help you with all of that.” Now our customer just gave us another small commitment to find a car they’d like to own, and get to the negotiations. Please note that I did not suggest we say “and then go home and think about it.”, so don’t say that.
When we get small commitments to the write up from our customer, it helps them ‘flip the switch’ to make the mental buying decision much earlier in the transaction. It’s these small commitments that help our customer become more flexible and much more comfortable with taking action on the decision they’ve already made.
Here are other examples of this:
How much discount can I get? or Do you guys have any wiggle room?
“Adjusting numbers is the easiest part of my job, Ms. Customer. We adjust numbers all day long. There is one thing, however, I simply cannot adjust… and that’s your taste. So, first let’s find just the right car for you and then we’ll go inside and I’ll show you how easy it is to do business with us. Okay?” When she tells us OKAY!, she just committed to finding the right car and to the write up. Please note I did not suggest we say, “how easy it is to do business today with us.”, so don’t say that.
What’s your best price?
“It sounds like you want to save money like most of my customers, right? There are two main ways I can help you save money, Mr. Customer, they’re the outside and the inside parts of my job. The outside part is where together we find just the right vehicle for you. Where we make sure you’re not paying for stuff you don’t need, or missing things you’ve got to have. The inside part is where I help you and my manager agree to terms and I’m really good at both parts of my job. Will you give me the chance to prove that to you?” When he tells us OKAY!, he just committed to finding the right car and to the write up.
This may be too expensive for me. or I need to keep my payments around $XXX.
“Mr. Customer, there are several different ways we can keep whatever vehicle you choose within the budget you had in mind. What I’d like to do, if you’ll let me, is put all the ways we can accomplish this for you in writing (or on a screen), in black and white. That way we avoid any misunderstandings and you can see for yourself firsthand. After reviewing them all, you tell us which way works best for you. I think that’s a better way to do business. What do you think?” When he tells us, Me too!, he just committed to finding the right car and getting to the write up.
What’s my trade worth? or What’s the best interest rate I can get?
“Before we’re done, we’ll go inside and discuss all the numbers; price, down payments, monthly payments, interest rates, and numbers on your present vehicle. Okay? And I’m going to invite you to make your final decision on the numbers and the numbers alone. Not because I’m a nice guy, although my mom thinks I am, not because of the store’s reputation, although it’s outstanding, but simply on the bottom line. Fair enough?” When they say, Sounds fair!, they’ve just committed to the write up.
Remember, our customer is judging us by the following criteria:
1) Are we easy to do business with?
2) Do we have their best interests at heart or at least on par with our own?
3) Are we competent?
4) Are we confident?
If you take a minute to measure each one of the prior examples by these criteria, I think you’ll find that they satisfy each one. By best serving our customer, we in turn best serve ourselves.
Since our customer is already agreeable to coming inside to get some figures, making the transition from the lot to our office will usually take no more than us saying, “Follow me.” We will still need to get a firm “today commitment” before we negotiate, of course, but now we will be able to do that inside, in our office, after our customer has ‘flipped the switch’ and made the mental buying decision, and where we have more resources at our disposal to make it easy for our customer to take action on that decision they’ve already made.
There are other things we can use to help our customer make the early mental buying decision, of course, but this is a good place to start and this is an article not a book. Finally, remember that any new technique or strategy needs to be practiced and refined (molding it to our own vocabulary, temperament, selling style, etc.) until it becomes our very own. As always, the idea is not to go from technique to technique but rather to have directed conversations with our customer.
I think we’ll find by putting these suggestions into practice, it’ll be much easier to help our customer get through the entire buying process, and we’ll get more write ups as well as more firm today commitments.
Until the next time, be well, and do good work!
Michael D. Hargrove
e-mail Michael Hargrove
“Regardless the endeavor, if we are to excel, we must find our own voice.”
Objection of the Month: “I need my husband/wife.”
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. “Let’s go get her!”
b. “Let’s go ahead and call her.”
c. “Let’s take it to her.”
d. “No problem, we can complete this with the condition of ‘subject to your wife’s approval’ within 24 hours.” 1a. this usually requires management approval before we can make this suggestion
e. “Here, you can take it home over night and get her approval.” 1a. traditionally known as the “Puppy Dog Close”, this usually requires management’s OK and must also have a time limit attached to it.
f. “Why isn’t she here right now?” After our customer lists out the reasons she’s not there (works a lot, has to watch the 9 kids, hates car shopping, etc.) We use those very reasons to suggest that he “Save her the time, grief, and aggravation and do it without her.”
g. “This car’s for you. You’ve been thinking about it for the last three months, right? It’s the right color, right equipment, our store is close to your office, you’ve heard good things about our service department, but you just want her involved in the decision right? Then pause and ask him, “What if she says you can’t have it?” If customer says that she won’t, then we simply close the sale. If he says he won’t get it then, we say, “If she did object, what would she most likely object to, the car itself or the money? The money? Well, would she be most uncomfortable with the monthly payments or the total investment? (If payments) “If I could show you a way to get into the brand new car and keep your payments about the same as you’re paying now, what would she object to then?” (If total investment) “If I could show you a way to drive this new car for roughly 60% of the sticker price after you’re done with it, what would she object to then?”
h. “You know what I’ve discovered in MY marriage? Sometimes it’s easier to ask for forgiveness, than it is to ask for permission. Isn’t it sometimes true for you too?”
Next month’s objection will be: “I don’t need a salesperson.” We need YOUR input! Please forward your ideas on this one, or your suggestions on which objection to cover next, to firstname.lastname@example.org.
“15 Powerful Beliefs That Will Free You From Negativity”
— by Marc Chernoff
When I was a teenager I was the primary target of an extremely persistent bully at my high school. One day I came home in tears and wrote this on the whiteboard hanging on my bedroom wall: “I hate bullies. They make me feel like a loser.”
The next day, while I was at school, my grandmother erased what I wrote on the whiteboard and replaced it with this: “An entire body of water the size of the Pacific Ocean can’t sink a ship unless it gets inside the ship. Similarly, all the negativity in the world can’t bring you down unless you allow it to get inside your head.”
And from that day forward I felt better. I made a conscious decision to stop letting the bully get inside my head. I changed my beliefs about his level of importance in my life.
It isn’t easy to remain positive when negativity surrounds you, but remember that you have full control over what you choose to believe. You can effectively defend yourself against all kinds of negativity by adopting simple, yet powerful, beliefs that support a positive outlook in the face of seemingly negative circumstances.
Below you will find 15 such beliefs that have helped free me from the grips of negativity. I have these beliefs written down in my journal, and I review them on a regular basis, as needed, just to keep them fresh in my mind. I hope you will join me by adopting them into your own belief system as well…
1. What other people say about me is their problem, not mine. – Don’t take other people’s negativity personally. Most negative people behave negatively not just to you, but to everyone they interact with. What they say and do is a projection of their own reality. Even when a situation seems personal – even if someone insults you directly – it oftentimes has nothing to do with you. What others say and do, and the opinions they have, are based entirely on their own self-reflection.
2. I am free to be ME. – Can you remember who you were before the world told you who you should be? Happiness is found when you stop comparing yourself to everyone else and what they want. Stop living for other people and their opinions. Be true to yourself. You are the only person in charge of your life. The only question is: What do you want to do with the rest of it?
3. Life isn’t perfect, but it sure is great. – Our goal shouldn’t be to create a perfect life, but to live an imperfect life in radical amazement. To get up every morning and take and good look around in a way that takes nothing for granted. Everything is extraordinary. Every day is a gift. Never treat life casually. To be spiritual in any way is to be amazed in every way. (Read The Happiness Project.)
4. It’s okay to have down days. – Expecting life to be wonderful all the time is wanting to swim in an ocean in which waves only rise up and never come crashing down. However, when you recognize that the rising and crashing waves are part of the exact same ocean, you are able to let go and be at peace with the reality of these ups and downs. It becomes clear that life’s ups require life’s downs.
5. Even when I’m struggling, I have so much to be grateful for. – What if you awoke today with only the things you were thankful for yesterday? We tend to forget that happiness doesn’t come as a result of getting something we don’t have, but of appreciating everything we do have. Stress thrives when your worry list is longer than your gratitude list. Happiness thrives when your gratitude list is longer than your worry list. So find something to be thankful for right now.
6. Every experience is just another important lesson. – Disappointments and failure are two of the surest stepping-stones to success. So don’t let a hard lesson harden your heart. When things go wrong, learn what you can and then push the tragedies and mistakes aside. Remember, life’s best lessons are often learned at the worst times and from the worst mistakes. We must fail in order to know, and hurt in order to grow. Good things often fall apart so better things can fall together in their place.
7. Not everything is meant to stay. – Change can be terrifying, yet all positive growth and healing requires change. Sometimes you have to find the good in goodbye. Because the past is a place of reference, not a place of residence. Be strong when everything seems to be going wrong, keep taking small steps, and eventually you will find what you’re looking for. Learn to trust the journey, even when you do not understand it.
8. Being wrong is the first step to being right. – Sometimes the wrong choices bring us to the right places. To be creative and productive in life, you must first lose your fear of being wrong. And remember, a fear like this can only survive inside you if you let it live there.
9. I do not need to hold on to what’s holding me back. – You are not what has happened to you; you are what you choose to become. It’s time to break the beliefs and routines that have been holding you back. Respect yourself enough to walk away from anything that no longer grows you. Listen to your intuition, not your ego. When you stop chasing the wrong beliefs, you give the right ideas a chance to catch you. (Angel and I discuss this in detail in the “Adversity” chapter of 1,000 Little Things Happy, Successful People Do Differently.)
10. My happiness today is simply the result of my thinking. – Happiness starts with you – not with your relationships, not with your job, not with your money, but WITH YOU. It is not always easy to find happiness in ourselves, but it is always impossible to find it elsewhere. Regardless of the situation you face, your attitude is your choice. Remember, you can’t have a positive life with a negative attitude. When negativity controls your thoughts, it limits your behavior, actions, and opportunities. If you realized how powerful your thoughts were, you would try your best to never think another negative thought again.
11. Who I spend quality time with matters. – Surround yourself with people who lift you higher – those who see the great potential in you, even when you don’t see it in yourself.
12. Drama and judgments are a waste of perfect happiness. – Make a promise to yourself. Promise to stop the drama before it begins, to breathe deeply and peacefully, and to love others and yourself without conditions. Promise to laugh at your own mistakes, and to realize that no one is perfect; we are all human. Feelings of self-worth can flourish only in an atmosphere where individual differences are appreciated, mistakes are tolerated, communication is open, and rules are flexible. (Read The Mastery of Love.)
13. Most people are judging me far less than it seems. – The truth is, while you’re busy worrying about what others think of you, they’re busy worrying about what you think of them. Crazy? Yes, but true. The good news is this knowledge instantly frees you to let loose and do more of what YOU want. And while doing so, you’ll also liberate others to do the same.
14. I can make the world a happier place. – Do your best to help one person every day in some small way. By becoming the answer to someone’s prayer, we often find the answers to our own. When the people around us are happier, it’s a lot easier to smile.
15. The work is worth it. – Lose the expectation that everything in life should be easy. It rarely is. In fact, there are no shortcuts to any place worth going. Enjoy the challenge of your achievements. See the value in your efforts and be patient with yourself. And realize that patience is not about waiting; it’s the ability to keep a good attitude while working hard on your dreams. It’s knowing deep down that the work is well worth it in the end
“How we use our mind is crucial to our finding and getting what we want out of life, and giving what we want to it.”
Upcoming Public Events:
Retail Automobile Sales : The Professional’s One Day Workshop
“Great workshop! It’s nice that is wasn’t only a lecture. It was easy to relate to and the topics are related to present time, not outdated or even over-taught. I’m very excited to study and train under Michael!”
Michael P. Scheitlin, Salesman – Titus-Will Ford/Toyota/Scion
“What a great seminar! I got so much from this workshop: basics, advanced techniques, and even life skills. I can’t wait to implement the skills, techniques, and life decisions we went over today!”
Zaire Watkins, Sales/Leasing – Hinshaw’s Acura
“This opened my eyes to multiple different ways to approach objections, as well as the life planning section. Although it wasn’t requested, Michael touched on this subject and I’m glad he did because personally I may find this section the most useful of all!”
Daniel Armitage, Sales & Leasing – Burien Toyota
Date(s): March 25th & 26th, 2014
Location: Canyon Creek Restaurant
1411 Shilo Drive
Boise, ID 83687
Date(s): May 20th & 21st, 2014
Location: Best Western Hotel Tacoma Dome
2611 East E Street
Tacoma, WA 98421
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