Prior to starting my career in car sales, I served tables at restaurants for many years while pursuing a college education. The hourly rate was $2.13/hr which 95% of the time was a small check around $20 because, as you likely know, you wait tables for tips, not an hourly rate. Optimizing that pay plan meant taking as many tables as possible and/or generating large ticket totals and hoping the person footing the bill knew what a good tip percentage was.
In automotive sales, the pay plan isn’t much different. No one gets hired at our dealership to wait around and collect the hourly base pay that is required by law. The beauty of getting paid on commission is the opportunity to “create your paycheck”, the idea that the more work you put in the more you will yield in return.
What sets car sales apart from taking orders at restaurant is that the percentage you’re paid isn’t dependent on the customer’s experience and their perception of you, but the dealership itself. There are many stories of typical car buying experiences that take advantage of this by neglecting the customer experience and cutting straight to the transaction. But what if I told you your income is directly related to your customer’s experience?
Essentially, the car buyer and the hungry diner seek similar things:
To solve their problem for a reasonable cost and have an enjoyable experience while doing so.
To ensure this happens, they need a professional.
Just as we make a personal investment when we commit to a career in car sales, we must invest in our potential clients to ensure they have a positive experience that will keep them coming back and referring us to everyone they know.
Professional relationships begin by becoming a TEAM.
To be a professional, you must invest
o Your Time
- Be sure that you are giving 100% of your attention to the person in front of you. Casual conversation with other sales people, answering other clients phone calls/texts, or any other activity that is not directly benefitting the sale, the person on the other side makes your customer feel less valuable. Minimize your distractions so you can be efficient and attentive. They will appreciate your focus and feel like you’re working for them.
o Your Expertise
- You may be an incredibly welcoming person that is comfortable talking with anyone but if you don’t know the process that gets the product in their driveway, you’re essentially a glorified receptionist. Carve out time in your schedule to intentionally study the product until you are the expert at your dealership.
o Your Action
- Lack of action will lead you to worse results than lack of expertise. To know what to do and willfully choose otherwise will not only keep you from building trust, but can also result in breaking any trust you have established. Having integrity and following through on your promises are crucial for building rapport and keeping your clients coming back.
o Your Mitigation
- Mitigation is the act of making a condition or consequence less severe. You don’t have to mitigate when you deliver on your client’s’ terms. We all want it as close to free as possible, so staying optimistic about changing situations eases the stress of the process. Create an experience they never forget and they’ll always remember to come back.
It’s all about how they feel. You may not be into sports, but you’re the quarterback of the game. If you’re not leading this team, there’s no telling where it will go. Along with their overall objective your prospect will likely have a place within the steps of the sale that they are comfortable with stopping. I call this a bookmark.
The customer’s bookmark is the place within their own car buying story they are happy to come back to at a later time. This may be after they grab some brochures, a test drive, or even getting some numbers. If we hope to make a sale, it is imperative that we provide an experience that demands they keep turning the page.
TELL THEM THE STORY (LEAD)
After they’ve reached this point, you must use the details you’ve picked up about them to encourage them to remove the bookmark and keep turning. Perhaps they’re scared, stressed, tired, or are afraid they can’t make the payment. It is your job as a salesperson to move forward, even if the upcoming chapter seems like the neverending story.
One time I had a headstrong woman who knew what she wanted. The color, model, and features had to be specifically met or she was ready to leave. We parted ways as friends, but her reasoning thrilled me. “Nothing beats a satisfied mind.”
Give your customer a compelling story that will move them to their satisfied mind.
Note that motivation and pressure are two very different things. The public conscious being that car people are sharks in the water thirsty for blood, expect guards to be up. Word of mouth has always been the strongest form of marketing, strength that can build you or break you. Telling a story is one thing, pushing an agenda is another.
Be sure to be aware of how you’re impacting their experience overall. Rapid conversation can raise tension and cause your prospect to lose trust in you and the product. Your name becomes synonymous with the brand you sell, and if you’re not honoring it, you’re not going to put anything in their driveway. Remember it isn’t your money you’re spending while realizing they’ll have to spend the money somewhere.
The truth is that we never get a second chance at a first impression. Before you take your next up, make sure that you are ready to deliver professional level service by using the TEAM strategy. This checklist can work as a reminder of the skills we need to succeed. Our aim is to deliver our clients the information they need to make confident decisions and provide the solution to their problem. If the reality of their situation keeps them from their ideal, stay upbeat about what you can offer and respectfully educate them about their options. Being a professional requires passionate dedication to growing your skill set and finding the best way to lead others to their satisfied mind.
Are you pursuing professionalism or preying on your prospect?