When And How To Make A Turn

by Michael Hargrove

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 auto sales 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 clients.

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 what you want. Sound fair?”

Basically, it’s acknowledging the problem (and taking ownership of it, remember, if a turn is needed then WE are the problem), presenting the solution, and then getting their permission. 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?”.

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.

 


© 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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