Let’s Kick It Up A Notch

by Tom Wittman

Enthusiasm is not just a word to get people moving. It is a real word, with a real definition. When a person is enthused there is actually endocrine secreted from the brain to the central nervous system whereby accelerating the heartbeat, respiratory system, blood flow, and even changing vocal intonation. This is the ingredient to a successful “meet and greet.” Actually being enthused about meeting that person for the first time will dictate the course of the sale, yes it will determine whether that customer will or will not be buying from your store today. Your ability to express genuine enthusiasm in conjunction with the ability to be yourself is a contagious combination that is a dynamic approach to selling yourself. There are more than 400 types of vehicles from which to select, the customer is truly looking for a salesperson that they feel comfortable with. “People buy people” not cars. With that in mind your “meet and greet” has to stand out in the field. Without a proper “meet and greet” you are just a clerk playing the numbers game.

The customer goes through the same qualifying process that the salesperson does in the first ten seconds. Yes, they do have natural defense mechanisms and inborn prejudices identical to that of the salesperson. They also have an arsenal of word tracks developed from years of stereotyping salespeople, these are among the natural defense mechanisms I refer to. The inborn prejudices are quite simply what they do or do not like. These are developed from childhood and continue to fade or grow with time.

The first impression is only made once. If a customer senses that you are preoccupied or selling out of desperation they will not be buying anything from you today. Always have a smile on your face when approaching the customer. Don’t be a “salesman” at this point.

Avoid the overused “May I HELP you?”, does anyone actually believe that a person about to spend $25,000 on some new vehicle needs HELP? Besides, if he did, would he not go to see a doctor or lawyer? This has become a word track that leaves the salesperson waiting for the customer to use their “natural defense mechanism” or “I’m just looking..” This response, goes with this greeting. This is exactly what they have to say, word for word.

This true story demonstrates the self-destructiveness of the question. I was looking for a VCR for my son’s room when I noticed an ad in the paper stating “Four Head VCR – $170.00.” I clipped the ad, put it in my pocket, and drove to that retail outlet. Upon arrival to the store, I walked through the double doors and was immediately approached by a young man asking, “May I HELP you?” My immediate response was “No. I’m just looking.” What was I thinking? I could have given him the ad out of my pocket, purchased the VCR, and returned home. Instead because of my “natural defense mechanisms”, I gave the poorly dressed young man a conditioned response. This is the typical answer to “May I HELP you?.”

Avoid the ineffective “How are you today?.” This question leaves the salesperson in a negative position. Suppose the customer is not doing well. That person should be able to visit your showroom floor and make a purchase without having to discuss his health, disposition, or personal history. Asking about any of these might leave the potential buyer with negative thoughts. This makes the salesperson part of the problem rather than part of the solution.

Listen to the retailers in your locality, the people you spend your money with and you will find that 75% (I say that with reserve) of all salespeople are using one or both of these greetings. “Can I HELP you?”, “May I HELP you?”, “How are you today?.”…. Do I seriously look like I need HELP? C’mon it’s like a fungus around town.

I recently spoke with a friend who had shopped at a European clothing store, when she entered the boutique, the salesperson welcomed her warmly. Then introduced her to the owner and the manager. Then invited her to make herself comfortable and enjoy some refreshments. She was taken aback because this was a women’s retail outlet and not a food store. While drinking her tea, she told the salesperson who had engaged her in conversation that she was looking for a dress for a special evening. She bought several outfits from the store and even exchanged phone numbers with the owner. The salesperson’s time was well spent. The two would be doing business again, since the customer is an importer from NYC. Notice the salesperson never asked the ugly “May I HELP you?” or the “How are you today?” question. She just used a truly warm, friendly, and enthusiastic “WELCOME!.”

Sam Walton understood the need to greet people warmly. Sam stationed a greeter at the entrance of each of his Wal-Mart stores, along with the elimination of “Slotting” (prepaid product placement) established the company as the number one retail chain in the United States. Since Sam’s death, the company has lost all insight into Sam’s intent. Now the greeter merely hands out shopping carts to pacify management, rather than function as a member of a professional sales team.

Developing an effective greeting will be advantageous to any retail showroom. Welcome the customer to your dealership, and extend your hand. Tell him who you are and get his name. Then, find out if the customer is working with anyone or has bought a car at your store before. It must be a set of “word tracks” that do not change regardless of the customer. Sorry to sound so absolute but this is it.

“Welcome to ABC Motors my name is _____” (Done while shaking hands.)

“And yours?”

“Are you here to see anyone in particular?”

This greeting is concise and encourages an immediate, informative response from the customer. This is not intended to rush the customer or create an unnecessary sense of urgency. This simple greeting has proven to be very valuable to those willing to take the time to add the enthusiasm. I am not saying “Bang the pots and pans.” I am simply saying to still be themselves, with just enough drive to “Kick It Up A Notch!”

© Copyright 1999 by Thomas Wittman. All rights reserved.

Tom Wittman is the President and founder of Premier Sales Training. He was a multiple year Chrysler Gold Level Award Winner and he assisted in the development of Chrysler’s “Customer One Program.” He has published his own sales training manual entitled, Procedure Works!

You can reach Tom at:

Thomas L. Wittman
Premier Sales Training
27020 Oakwood Circle #102Q
Olmsted Township, Ohio 44138
Phone: (440) 235-9657
e-mail : [email protected]