Death By Response: You Lost Me At Hello!

Let's take a moment to ignore the store front, avoid the showroom,
shed technology and just get back to being human. Do you know how to
talk and carry a conversation? Well, if you judge that by much of the
email and phone communication going on at automotive retail, you'd be
left with more questions than answers.

Face it, we have a lot
of room to grow when it comes to 'inviting' the public to car
dealerships. Oh sure, they'll continue to come when they have to buy.
They will find somewhere and someone to buy from. But the fact that most
of you had an easier time asking your first date out, shows we still
have issues when it comes to how to engage a person that wants to
buy!

Many people shrug off their verbal and written skills
when they can deliver a fair amount of cars each month. When lean times
come, they'll blame everything but the water cooler (maybe some will
actually blame the Sparkletts man) rather than look at their own
communication.

So here's a 4-step recovery program that should
help you (who needs 12 steps anyway?):

1. Know what you
want to say before you touch the phone or start typing

At least
with an email you can proof it before sending but most salespeople
aren't in the habit of doing that. The biggest hint that a salesperson
isn't ready for the call? Uh, um, er, ah, eh, well, gee, ayyyyyyye (the
long 'I' as they reach for something to say) and other stalling tactics
tell the customer on the other end of the phone clearly that there might
be a more professional person in the building.

2. It's about the
customer, silly

I did this. I did that. I'll talk with my
manager, I usually tell people that ask me that. I, I, I, I, I. Stop it!
It's about them, always has been, always will be. Go to a nice
restaurant for dinner, the waiter or waitress doesn't say "I have some
specials tonight"…do they?!?!?! No!! What you'll usually hear is
something like "would you like to hear what your choices are for
specials tonight?" or "Would you like to start with a drink or
appetizer?". Go to fast food and they say "can I take your order?". Are
you selling a hamburger value meal or a choice steak? (or Gorgonzola
salad for our vegetarian readers!). Change your focus to the customer
and you'll be amazed at how different your interaction goes.

3.
Questions are like water. Go without and you die.

You've get
them qualified. You walk them. You drive them. You sit them down. You
pencil them. You close them. If you stop asking questions, you likely
lose somewhere along the process. When the questions end, the
conversation ends. Sure, they can pick it up again. Our job? Keep them
talking. About the car, themselves, their family, their likes, anything.
Stop asking, you're on your own because you've lost control. Questions
(as well as answering theirs) are the lifeline of communication along
with emotion and everything else the expensive consultants and sales
coaches tell you is important (that you already knew).

4.
Validation and excitement. Oh, and courtesy!

Who can be excited
about calling you back if your message sounds like it was made in a
monotone machine? Ten messages down and ready for call 11? Get pumped up
again! Nobody wants to call a boring sales person back about what is
exciting for then. And how about validation? Can you relate to your
customers, even the ones with challenged credit? Don't kid yourself
because people can see through fake. And remember, especially in today's
social age (sorry, had to go there for a moment), their experience with
the 'less than exciting, not quite interested in me buying a car from
him/her' now translates to dozens, if not hundreds or thousands, more
people who may not shop at your store now.

And with regard to
courtesy, if you're not asking if the person you are calling is
available for you in a way that doesn't completely let them off the hook
from talking with you (because they must, must, must buy the perfect
car for them from you), you don't deserve to be selling cars. Don't ask,
don't tell. If you don't ask if they're available, they'll likely never
tell you they're buying from you.

In today's age with
complete transparency on the web, don't kid yourself into doing a less
than a complete, exciting job with your customers will work. We're not
saying to be something your not, but if you're in automotive sales and
expect to do well, just do it. It may not be fair that a book is still
judged by its cover but don't treat anyone trying to do business with
your store any differently than what you expect when you go into someone
else's.

Welcome back to the business about people. You can now
return to your technology-laden existence.

Best Practices:
Professional Insight, Powerful Results

2 Comments

  • Brad Bossen says:

    And you said it OUT LOUD for everyone to read! Its the people..STUPID! How many generations of management is this industry going to consume before someone finally makes a declaration that customer service in its “native” form (not just a statement in the company policy manual)is what drives a business.
    I see managers in every department of every store cutting salaries, commissions, and payplans to ‘save their way to a profit.’ Tip: Your customers are being treated EXACTLY like the way your employees are being treated!!

  • I think this is right on. I just came from a white-tablecloth restaurant where the waiters and busboys acted distracted when they were serving us. I was made to feel that they were “doing me a favor” by waiting on me. Sometimes people get that same attitude at a dealership… and it doesn’t leave you wanting seconds!

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