This Month’s Selling Principle:
The Steps To The Sale
Over the years, I have had dealerships represent their selling process to me as an eight-step, ten-step, or even a twelve-step process. All have their own slightly different take on what the road to the sale entails but all of them pretty much mirror each other. As my own definition of this process has evolved, I am sure that it has been influenced in some way by all of them.
Just like building a building, I believe building a relationship is done in stages and that is what I identify as the ten-steps to the sale. And just like constructing a high rise building, the first few steps are the most important and each subsequent step becomes progressively less important. Experience has taught me that when we start to think it’s the other way around (that the close, for instance, is more important the needs determination step) that we tend to shoot ourselves in the foot by alienating our prospect.
The first step, “Whistle On The Way To Work,” which we will get into in a second, I believe is the foundation of the relationship, so it is the most important — being personally confident and enthusiastic. Each step becomes a building block on that foundation. If any of these steps are compromised, then the steps (or floors) that come after (or above) will be compromised also.
So, with that as a backdrop, here are the steps to the sale as I currently see them;
Step 1: Whistle On The Way To Work
Through daily use of the techniques and disciplines that will allow us to stay positive and enthusiastic, happiness and success in our professional as well as our personal life will become a habit.
Step 2: Dress Professionally
We’re talking about the first impression here. We must always dress in a way that helps our customer have confidence in us and helps us to feel more confident. Included in this step is also the dealership’s appearance and what the sales staff appears to be doing when our customer first arrives (i.e. no vulture circles). Remember we have heard it before, we don’t get a second chance to make a good first impression.
Step 3: Professional Greeting
People establish several conclusions about us within the first few seconds of meeting us. The way in which we greet our customer is just as critical and requires just as much practice as any other step of the selling process.
Step 4: Determine Customer’s Needs
Two of the most basic of all human needs are to be valued and understood. We must take this time to build rapport and help our customer to relax and feel comfortable working with us. We must make sure that the questions we ask serve our customer as well as ourselves. Through skillfully constructed questioning, we can help them see that we are interested in them as people, as well as wanting to discover how we can best serve them. Remember this; they don’t care how much we know until they know how much we care.
Step 5: Presentation
A “good deal” is when the value received is greater than or equal to the amount spent. We provide our customers a “good deal” when we present the features and the benefits and build value in those things that our customer places value in.
Step 6: Demonstration
Our customer really begins to take mental ownership once they get behind the wheel. It is our job to make the demonstration ride as enjoyable as possible by driving the vehicle first and by using a preplanned route.
Step 7: Sell The Store
By sharing with our customer the background of our owner or owners, and the dealership, also, by introducing them to our associates in the other departments, we give our customers more opportunity to feel comfortable about doing business with us.
Step 8: The Write-Up
The purpose of this step is not to find out exactly what it is going to take to earn the customer’s business. Rather, it is designed to find out whether or not the business can be earned today.
Step 9: The Commitment
Here, we must determine, in writing, exactly what it is going to take to reach an agreement with our customer today. We must touch on all the applicable variables such as trade-in, initial investment, monthly investments and price, all the while casting doubt and keeping them flexible.
Step 10: The Close
The average customer must be asked five times before the decision to buy is made. Our job is to make it easy for our customer to say “yes” and hard to say “no.” We cannot be effective if all we know is “If I could…would you?”
Our customer’s game plan is to go from store to store, get the best price, and leave. They will sometimes tell us the most outrageous things to throw us off of our game plan, to convince us that they cannot possibly do business today, and to sell us on the “fact” that the only hope we have of ever getting their business is to give them our “rock bottom price.”
What they actually learn shopping this way is nothing more than a lesson in futility. There is no such thing as a “best price” because this is a business with negotiated prices, for most of us at least, and many variables enter into the pricing structure — things like availability, color, equipment, age, time of the month, the moods of everyone involved, and how the transaction was set up. These variables are dynamic — always changing.
What our customers are really looking for is someone they can trust. With product parity pretty much a reality, and with the easy access to, or the posting of, market driven prices, the only true advantage we have over the competition is our own enthusiasm, our ability to help our customers to feel comfortable by building rapport, and the level of service we provide. Remember this; Ford manufactures and sells cars; Honda manufactures and sells cars; General Motors manufactures and sells cars. We cannot and should not try to compete. What we manufacture and sell are relationships. We manufacture and sell service.
That is why it is important for us to remember the three things we must sell:
∙ the vehicle
∙ and the dealership.
As a matter of fact, the first four steps of the sale are designed really just to sell us, although we sell our self throughout the entire transaction. Like I said before, customers are really looking for someone they can trust, and though it may seem otherwise, price is seldom the most important issue to them. We must be head and shoulders above the competition. We must always conduct ourselves in as professional a manner as possible. Even if we are the biggest dork around, if we just think, look, talk, and act like a professional, we cannot help but become a professional.
Of course, we need to sell the vehicle, and the fifth, sixth, and eighth step are really designed to do that. We must show how our vehicle will fulfill their wants and needs, and we have to demonstrate our vehicle’s superiority.
The third thing we sell is the dealership. The seventh step is designed specifically for this purpose, and just like us, our dealership must be unique also. We have to show and tell our customer the benefits of buying there.
Lastly, and most importantly, we must have a genuine concern for our customer’s satisfaction. As a matter of fact, this is a customer service basic requirement. If we do not have a genuine concern for our customer’s satisfaction, we might as well go flip burgers because we will probably make more money. Our customers will be able to tell if we are insincere. Zig Ziglar once said, “We will get everything in life we want if we help enough other people to get what they want.” The way I like to say it is, “He is best served who serves best.”
So, until next time, be well, and do good work!
Michael D. Hargrove
“Often the difference between a successful man and a failure is not one’s better abilities or ideas, but the courage that one has to bet on his ideas, to take a calculated risk, and to act.”
Objection of the Month: “I’ve got you beat!” or “I can get a better deal somewhere else.”
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. “I’m sure there’s someone in this city who thinks less of their product, their dealership, the service they provide, or themselves as a salesperson, that would cut their price a little below ours. The true test of a good deal, however, is time. You won’t be sure you got the best deal until long after the price is forgotten.”
b. “I feel that we have the best dealership, the best product and the best people anywhere. Price is important of course, but there’s a lot more that goes into a good deal than price. You’ll get the best of everything right here. Now did you want it registered in your name or the business name?”
c. “Ms. Customer, you understand advertising don’t you? I don’t doubt you may have seen one, stripped down, advertised special in the paper sometime. It may not have been the color you wanted and it certainly wouldn’t have had the equipment this one does, the equipment you said is so important to you. Besides, these advertised strippies sell a lot faster than most people are willing to move. Chances are that it was gone long before you could have even got there. Now that we’ve found the right car specifically for your wants and needs, Ms. Customer, let’s work this one as close as we can to the budget you had in mind.”
d. “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, both are sound business strategies and both are used here in the (name your city) market. We’ve decided to do the former: 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 all of our competitive advantages by writing them down. After we’ve listed them all down, we turn the paper around, facing the customer, and we 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. And it’s really hard for someone to exclude themselves from services they’ll want to take advantage of later on. Now they’ve justified paying us a bit more.)
e.“Great! Just give me the signed purchase order you got from them and I’ll show it to the manager. If it’s legit, we’ll work on getting as close to it as we can.”
f.“Mr. Customer, you’ve bought cars before and I think you’re intelligent enough to know that no businessman would discount his hottest product that much. It’s a shame that there still are people in my business that would send good folks like you on a wild goose chase with totally unrealistic figures just to come back and hear that they had made a mistake or that it didn’t include all the equipment you really wanted or some other B.S. Fortunately, that practice is becoming more and more rare. I’m sorry you folks had to be treated that way. Maybe we can get the manager to be a little more flexible though. Let’s see if she’ll throw-in a car cover or carpeted floor mats, which would you prefer?”
g.If they start to tell us what the other dealership said they’d do, stop them and say,) “No! Don’t tell me. It wouldn’t be fair for me to know. First let me present you with our figures and if those aren’t good enough, then you can tell me what the others guys are willing to do. Fair enough?” (This keeps us from chasing unrealistic figures and again lets our customer know we are confident about our numbers, easy to do business with, and are looking out for their best interests.)
Next month’s objection will be: “Just give me your best price.” We need YOUR input!!! Please forward your ideas on this one, or your suggestions on which objection to cover next, to [email protected].
“Form the habit of making decisions when your spirit is fresh. To let dark moods lead you is like choosing cowards to command your armies.”
Charles Horton Cooley
“A Moth’s Struggle”
— by Anonymous
A man found a cocoon of an emperor moth. He took it home so that he could watch the moth come out of the cocoon. On the day a small opening appeared, he sat and watched the moth for several hours as the moth struggled to force the body through that little hole.
The moth seemed to be stuck and appeared to have stopped making progress. It seemed as if it had gotten as far as it could and it could go no farther.
The man, in his kindness, decided to help the moth; so he took a pair of scissors and snipped off the remaining bit of the cocoon. The moth then emerged easily. But its body was swollen and small, its wings wrinkled and shriveled. The man continued to watch the moth because he expected that, at any moment, the wings would enlarge and expand to and able to support the body, which would contract in time. Neither happened! In fact, the little moth spent the rest of its life crawling around with a small, swollen body and shriveled wings. It never was able to fly.
The man in his kindness and haste did not understand that the struggle required for the moth to get through the tiny opening was necessary to force fluid from the body of the moth into its wings so that it would be ready for flight upon achieving its freedom from the cocoon. Freedom and flight would only come after the struggle. By depriving the moth of a struggle, he deprived the moth of health.
Sometimes struggles are exactly what we need in our life. If we were to go through our life without any obstacles, we would be crippled. We would not be as strong as what we could have been. Give every opportunity a chance, leave no room for regrets, and don’t forget the power in the struggle.
“All our dreams can come true—if we have the courage to pursue them.”
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