We all want to be engaged, not sold.  -  IMAGE: Pexels/Gustavo Fring

We all want to be engaged, not sold.

IMAGE: Pexels/Gustavo Fring

Pieces by regular F&I and Showroom columnists Rick McCormick and John Tabar in the latest F&I and Showroom issue talk about the importance of handling consumer meetings the right way. Listening skills and employing wise conversational approaches, they point out, can make a big difference on the F&I sales front.

In today’s environment of high vehicle prices and interest rates, the average consumer is understandably stretched thin, so these experts’ guidance is all the more apropos.

It makes me think of a time a couple years ago when I visited a favorite consignment shop. After a time between jobs, I was suddenly not stretched thin and had the kind of pent-up demand we’ve been hearing auto industry watchers talk about among consumers who’ve waited to buy vehicles due to record vehicle prices.

Of course, clothes and cars have many differences, but the desire to buy and the experience of needing to reign that in for a while have similarities, not the least of which is frustration.

What may be most insightful is the contrast in my visit that day and one I’d had a year or two before in the same shop. The earlier time, a saleswoman approached me in an aggressive way as I browsed, obviously trying to make a sale. It distracted and somewhat annoyed me. Even when I decided against buying a particular pair of pants after trying them on, she tried to change my mind. I left after buying one item.

The next time I visited, with all my accumulated delayed gratification, a different saleswoman approached me. With a smile, she engaged me in conversation but not so much as to distract me from my shopping. I picked up more than a dozen items to try on, and she gave me her opinion of each when I asked, with obvious style wisdom brought to bear. I felt no pressure, just enthusiasm and expertise. I left after spending about $1,000, the most money I’d ever dropped on a shopping trip, let alone at a consignment shop. My demand was no longer pent up.

The lesson I draw from it is that a salesperson’s approach has a direct impact on not only whether a customer buys but how much he or she buys. We all want to be engaged, not sold. You may hear that a lot, but in the conditions we find ourselves in, it bears repeating.

Hannah Mitchell is executive editor of F&I and Showroom. A former daily newspaper journalist, her first car was a hand-me-down Chevrolet Nova.

 

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