Article

The Hispanic Prospect: Make The Right Call

July 2007, Auto Dealer Today - WebXclusive

by Mauricio Espinosa - Also by this author

In last month’s column, I introduced the “Never Assume” principle, demonstrated its importance when the Hispanic prospect comes to your store and explained that it’s a sales (and service) principle that should be practiced regardless of your market.
Make sure that every staff member with any form of contact with the public has received multi-cultural training. Record language preferences in your CRM tool. Make sure your salespeople have the proper skills to ask the proper questions and take the time to get it right. For more on this read my previous article ‘When Approaching the Hispanic Prospect.’

This month, let’s take it one step further by planning. You might ask ‘Why?’ Because you have to plan to ask the right questions, for retention of information, for skills acquisition, for delivering on those skills, for attention to detail, and for thinking it through. Without adequate and correct planning the telephone can go from being a successful prospecting and customer retention tool to being a lethal weapon to your business. 

For example, a salesperson has a qualified prospect, Mr. Lopez, a delightful Hispanic gentleman interested in the white ‘04 Chevy Malibu that came in just last week. All it takes to seal the deal is one telephone call to Mrs. Lopez.

The salesperson is confident and quite comfortable with sales calls, so comfortable and confident that they’re convinced they could sell golf ball sized watermelons (plus shipping costs) to every telephone equipped household in Alaska.

Three minutes into the telephone conversation with Mrs. Lopez the sales call is derailed, crashes and burns. What seemed like a sure thing is now probably irrecoverable. If you were that salesperson you’d begin playing it all back in your mind as soon as you set the phone down.

You’d remember distinctly that Mr. Lopez stated that the vehicle was what his wife had in mind. You’d recall how wonderfully you demonstrated that vehicle and that the test drive with Mr. Lopez went great. The only thing missing was Mrs. Lopez’s approval.  So, Mr. Lopez asked you to please call his wife, Emma, that evening after dinner with the details and to answer her questions.

Which is what you did, but Mrs. Lopez became very frustrated and stressed, then terminated the call. The problem is that you failed to ask. You fell into the assumption trap. When Mr. Lopez came into the store the two of you conversed in Spanish.  You even confirmed that his preference was to speak with you in Spanish, though he is fluent in English. It seemed like common sense (the least common of the senses) that you should speak to his wife Emma in Spanish.  The problem, however, was Mrs. Emma Lopez, before recently marrying, was Emma Smith; she had no Spanish culture or language in her background whatsoever.

Another example involves Mr. Edward Johnson, a very dear friend of mine.  His father, a native of the U.S., had met and married a charming young Mexican lady and they resided in Mexico for 27 years. During that time they had a son, Eddy.

At the age of twenty something young Eddy, who speaks only Spanish, relocates to the United States. A young American looking male that quickly finds himself completely lost and infinitely frustrated. Everyone he encountered assumed, because he looked 100 percent American, that he spoke English.  It was impossible to conduct business over the phone because no one spoke to him in Spanish.

He lives in Mexico now and he made me promise that I would write him into this article, because his is a common tale, a big issue in the second generation and up Hispanics. The child of a marriage between an American male and a Hispanic female yet looks all American.

Which brings us back to the topic of assuming, don’t assume.  Ask questions intelligently and respectfully, remember the answers and make the information readily available to all staff members. Plan for scenarios; Think them through to plan and prepare for situations.

Be sure prospecting sheets are completed with adequate information; When dealing with a referral, ask the question “Is there a preferred language of the customer?” With the right questions you can determine what generation of Hispanic you’ll be dealing with. Learn something about their background, look for and beware of, cultural sensitivities, and do the same thing for the spouse or significant other.

When you call the Mrs. Lopez’s of the world, you should know that she is not Hispanic, and you should know to be respectful of her not knowing the Spanish language. My wife will tell you how frustrating it is to receive a telephone sales call, inform the caller that she does not speak Spanish only to discover that the caller does not speak English.

Be it in-bound calls or out-bound calls, in-house or outsourced, always remember either way it is your professional and business image at stake (and your pocketbook).  Make sure you have the proper information before making the call. Also, don’t lose what could be profitable opportunities only because you are lacking a Spanish speaking staff member that can readily take a caller. On the other hand, don’t fall into the assumption trap of automatically shuffling anyone that is speaking Spanish over to your Hispanic looking staff member.

Vol 5, Issue 6

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