OK, let me set the stage for you. A salesperson had been communicating with a customer who had inquired about a vehicle over the internet. At some point during communications with this customer a price quote was agreed up or at least considered close enough for the customer to set an appointment to come to the dealership. This customer traveled from around 30 minutes away to visit the salesperson and dealership. When the customer arrived at the dealership the salesperson greeted them and then asked the customer if they would like to go on a test drive. The customer declined the test drive because they said they had already driven a similar vehicle at another dealership and just wanted to go over the figures. After a little back and forth the customer agreed to go on the test drive. This particular dealership does not send their salespeople on test drives because of COVID-19 concerns. Which, I have no issue with. Employee safety is the highest of priorities. Anyways, so the salesperson gives the customer the keys to the vehicle and sends them on their test drive. A few minutes, and I am mean few, the customer is back from their drive and wanting to discuss the figures. Not only did they want to discuss the figures they wanted a better deal. Needless to say, the deal that the customer wanted the dealership could not do. They were about $1000 away from making a deal, so the customer left. As the customer was driving away the Sales Manager noticed that they were driving the same brand as the customer was looking to buy. It just so happens that this particular brand has loyalty money of $750 for previous owners. Now the Manager is telling the salesperson to get the customer back in because they would be that much closer to making a deal. The salesperson reached out to the customer over the phone and talked to them about the car they were driving. It turns out it was not the customers car and they would not be able to use that to close the deal and the customer is now lost to another dealership or brand. It is not that a deal was not made with this customer that blows me away, it is how did the deal get this far without finding any information about the customer out.
Let’s figure out what happened…
I have no prior knowledge of what communications happened prior to the customer arriving at the dealership, however I imagine it went something like this:
- Customer submitted an online inquiry for a price on a new vehicle. This inquiry was probably on an exact vehicle and even included a stock number.
- The salesperson calculates a best deal internet price and sends it to the customer.
- The customer believes the price is good or close enough and agrees to come into the dealership.
- The customer arrives at the dealership and you know the rest.
Where in this scenario was the Customer Profile (needs assessment or investigation)?
Where in this scenario was the Trade Appraisal or current situation analysis?
Where in this scenario was the customer given a proper product Presentation based upon the customers WANTS, NEEDS, and HOT BUTTONS?
At what point did the salesperson paint the mental ownership picture to get the customer excited about owning this vehicle?
Skipping each of these vital steps to the sales process leaves you with nothing left to talk with the customer about other than money. The salesperson in this scenario became a banker who negotiates money instead of an Automotive Sales Professional who build value. Any time you become the banker you are going to lose.
Just because we are living in a time where customers are spending more time ‘hiding’ behind a computer or phone. Whether it is because they are scarred to talk and spend time face to face with other people or if it is because they just want to protect themselves from being pressured into making a decision or being taken advantage of. Whatever your customers reason it does not mean that it is OK to skip steps to the sale. The key is to learn how to accomplish every step of the sale without the customer being right in front of you.
You must learn and practice the following when the customer is in front of you and when they are not:
- Greet a customer in a way that differentiates you from other salespeople. You must have a way to do this over the phone, via text message, via email, and in person. You can get more information on how to do this in the following courses:
- Complete a proper Trade Appraisal and Customer Profile. This is the most vital information that you can gain during any sales transaction. This information will be used at ever other step on the sale. Without this information, you can not build value in yourself, dealership or product. Without this information, what do you have left to talk about, the money. You can learn more about the Trade Appraisal (current situation) and the Customer Profile in the following courses:
Always remember, you do not need the customer in front of you to do a Customer Profile or Trade Appraisal. It does not need to even be a formal process as long as you gather all of the information, by asking the right questions, early in the sales process. This includes when communicating with a customer over the phone and over the internet.
- Give a value-based Presentation to EVERY customer. You have a way to build value in your product by presenting features and benefits that are relevant to your customer. You must have a plan to be able to do this when the customer is both in front of you and over the phone or internet. To learn more about giving a proper Presentation you can take the following course:
Let’s now apply this to the situation that prompted this article. Let’s assume the salesperson did a proper or decent Greeting because they did set an appointment with the customer so there was some engagement. However, that is where the sales process stopped. Had the salesperson gathered information about the customer through a Customer Profile and Trade Appraisal (current situation) they would have had the knowledge to build value during the Presentation. This information should have been gathered prior to the customer arriving at the dealership. When the customer arrived at the dealership the salesperson should have had the vehicle pulled up front and rolled right into a value-based Presentation that WOW’d the customer. If this would have happened the customer would have been asking to go on a test drive, not being forced to.
If the salesperson would have built value, created excitement, and got the customer thinking about the benefits of owning this vehicle, the customer would not have been as concerned about the price because these benefits would outweigh the cost. When value exceeds price by one dollar you have a sale and you can not build value while skipping steps of the sale, COVID-19 or not. I also wanted to emphasize that this is not a jab at the sales person. Like I said previously I am sure this is happening every day, all over the country. This is a call out that as salespeople, we need to either adapt or fail. I vote we adapt!