Complaints about salespeople are a common affair in the car business. If it’s not the back office of the dealership, it’s the customers, online reviewers and even consumer media who are taking shots at front-end staffers. But as we in the business know, nothing happens until something is sold.
The sale is the lifeblood of everything we do. F&I products, service and parts can’t be sold without a sale, which means there would be no need for accounting or good customer service. And just think about your dealership’s marketing efforts, which are designed to create sales and buyer awareness of your marques and the products and services you sell.
But no matter how effective your marketing efforts are, nothing really matters unless a salesperson can convert a lead into a sale. And there are many schools of thought on how to convert a “hand raiser” into a sale. Some believe word-tracks are the key, others believe it takes great marketing, coupons and other incentives.
I have another theory.
I’d like to talk about the psychological theory of a sale. This entails establishing influence over a customer so you, as a sales professional, can deliver a better buying experience. And let me tell you, following this practice can make things a lot easier.
The Return of Authenticity
It scares me to think of some of the things we have been taught in this industry. For instance, have you ever been told that salespeople are just like actors? Hey, I loved “Rocky” just as much as the next guy, but Sly Stallone is certainly not winning any leading man award anytime soon.
The only link I can see between car people and actors — at least the ones regularly up for Oscars — is that the best actors spent years in acting school and theatre before you ever saw them at your local Cineplex. So, the question is, what school do automotive sales professionals attend to develop their skills?
Look, this is the age of authenticity, which means you need to be more genuine and more natural with customers. See, our job is to help reduce the anxiety of making such a big purchase. And if you can do that, you will drive more sales, higher gross and more satisfied customers. The point is, be yourself, because everyone else’s persona is taken.
If you’ve been in the car business, you either have been confronted by or are a Type A personality. These individuals have the natural instincts to be a closer. The problem is that people with this type of personality tend to think of themselves as hunters, and their customers as their prey. That works for a motivational rally, but that approach is poison in the showroom.
See, the difference between an influencer and a hunter is a hunter only thinks about the sale, which, in turn, creates sales resistance. I challenge you to instead present ideas in favor of the customer, and to use creativity and empathy to differentiate yourself from the competition.
One thing you’ll find about the influencer’s approach is that it doesn’t require that you overcome objections in the traditional sense, which usually plays out like a tennis match: The customer smashes their objection to your side and you smash it back with a rebuttal.
As an influencer, you are simply responding to the customer’s objection with a “Here’s another way to look at it” scenario. You’re being empathetic to the customer’s concern to make the undesirable desirable. So, the key is to connect with their values while still moving the sale forward.
Successful influence creates emotion, which allows the prospect to justify a purchase logically. So, don’t be too concerned about what your customer thinks about what you say. Instead, think about how they feel about the things you say. Just remember, the head is attached to the price and the heart is attached to the wallet. Happy selling!
Cory Mosley is principal of Mosley Automotive Training, a dealership consulting company focused on new-school techniques. E-mail him at [email protected]