When Patrick asked me if I would be interested in contributing to the Be Less Typical blog, I was honored! Although I’m not a veteran, my experiences within the dealership, with sales trainers and more experienced professionals has allowed me to grow. My insight into a business we all know and love, will hopefully bring something new to the familiar.
One thing I love about Be Less Typical is the narrative aspect of the podcast. It is unique and informative all at once. My goal with this blog is to take that narrative quality and put it into something that is enjoyable to read when you want, but easy to digest when you’d like to get to the point. My goal is to cover the essentials of the car sales process from start to finish.
The Zen of the Meet & Greet
With my first sales meeting and initial interview behind me, I stared into the car lot dressed in my best and waited on my first “up”. With my shirt tucked in and a black tie around my neck, my first day of my automotive career consisted of many questions and a “yellow card” with what is commonly called throughout the industry the “road to the sale” printed on it. I had a plan…but what were the actions?
The sales process may differ in order depending on your dealership’s particular management teams’ requirements but these steps are essential actions you must take to ensure the vehicle makes it from your dealership to their driveway. As we begin to dive into a process, we will focus more on how to BE less typical rather than promising a proven system because what works best can change from market to market and from dealer to dealer.
What does not change are the qualities of superb customer service that will ensure that you are a person that your client likes, trusts and respects. Since starting my career in car sales I’ve found that how you are as a person to a potential client can greatly increase the likelihood that you will earn their business.
As I waited to learn how my first customer interaction would begin while trying to process all the new information from hours at the dealership, there was a sense of overwhelm. Remembering the sales process, word tracks, vehicle features, what to ask and when to ask it began to all flood in at once…
One thing I’ve picked up through numerous experiences with customers is the way you prepare and set the stage for them is just as crucial as the final close. The familiar training adage “Always Be Closing” carries this point but can move us too quickly to the climax of a deal, causing us to neglect the needs of our customer at the beginning of the sales process. So,
Always Be Conscious
The definition of Conscious reads like this:
Aware of and responding to one’s surroundings; awake
If you’re looking to master the Meet & Greet, you must become conscious of your surroundings and customer needs. Whether you’re new to the showroom or you’ve been at the same place for years, being aware of what is happening within the mind of your customer and the dealership as a whole will keep you moving closer to the top of the sales chart.
As I waited to see how my first customer interaction would begin, there it was. An older vehicle turns into our dealership with a man inside. With a smile and a wave, I directed him to a parking space to begin my very first Meet & Greet…and he just kept driving…
We never know what story will exit with a customer when they stop the car. We can assume some things when we see older vehicles that look like prime trade material or a family with a coming of age teenager looking for a starter car, but it would be wrong to pinpoint their exact need before saying hello. Assumptions can cause us to start on the wrong foot with a predetermined solution whereas being conscious focuses our mind on the bigger picture.
Assumption approach: “I know their problem”
Conscious approach: “What is their need?”
Our approach to someone new on the showroom floor or the dealership lot is felt from our first interaction and can set the pace for the entire process. Focusing on your potential clients’ needs places you (as the professional) right where they need you, and they (as a customer) right where you want them.
Once he made it to the portion of the pre-owned line up where the lot dead ends, he slowed to a stop. Almost as fast as he shifted the car into park he unbuckled, opened the door and walked briskly toward the windshield of a vehicle. It was at this point I noticed the tell-tale sign of a likely clear title trade: Old license plate design. With his car still running and no attention toward me, I approached him…
Assumption approach: “Good afternoon! This is prime trade in material here!”
Conscious approach: “Good afternoon, what could I help you with today?”
Do you see how these two approaches differ? One begins the exchange with a statement, an assumptive idea of what the man could be there for. The other begins with a question, opening the conversation up for much more possibility. There’s an old school word track I’ve heard other salesman use that is an assumptive approach in the form of a question:
Assumption approach: “Good afternoon! Here for the big sale?”
The idea is to begin the exchange on the salesman’s terms, win “the game” of communication exchange and direct every action of the customer.
Does it work? Yes, it can. Is it typical? Definitely.
The less typical approach is the conscious approach. The goal is not to manipulate the customer into doing your will but to empower them by providing the information that will satisfy their needs.
By doing this you establish yourself as a trusted resource that is aware of their problem and ready to solve it for them.
Are you conscious of your clients’ needs?
Drive with passion,