Article

Selling a Guarded Customer

July 2012, Auto Dealer Today - WebXclusive

by Brian Barfield - Also by this author


Last time, I shared with you the four basic customer types— simple-minded, demanding, analytical and guarded. Every customer you meet will fall into one of these four categories. Understanding who these customer types are will allow you to meet their needs and give them the ultimate experience they desire. Once you are able to do this, a bond of trust is built that allows these customers to become the foundation of your most loyal customer base. This will eventually lead you to a lasting success filled with greatness.

Today, I want to focus on selling the guarded customer. These are the customers who enter your store with an invisible wall up to protect themselves. There are many reasons these walls have appeared. It could be a bad shopping experience elsewhere, a troubled past, or just a simple lack of understanding vehicles. We could list numerous reasons for a customer to be guarded. All of these reasons have one common foundation called fear. It is fear that binds them from opening up, and it is up to you to free them from their tormentor. When you learn to sell these customers successfully, it is like giving them a gift as well as a pleasant shopping experience. It is the gift of freedom.

The first concept you must understand in selling a guarded customer is realizing that they are in control. They will decide whether to let you in or keep you out. How you treat them will determine the outcome. One of the funniest things you will see on the sales floor is the pushy sales associate trying to greet a guarded customer. They leave their desk full of confidence and on a mission to get a sale. They charge full-speed-ahead and go in with a super strategy, and wham! They hit the invisible wall. “I am just looking,” says the customer. Stunned, they make their way back to their desk, wondering what just happened. This has happened to us all. Once you realize that there is a wall between you and your customer, you must find a way to be invited in. Without an invitation, success will be very limited. So remember that a guarded customer is always in control.

The next concept to learn in selling a guarded customer is to understand their value. Do you value them as your customer or are they just a sale? If you do not value your customer, then they just became your prey. Have you ever watched the Discovery channel? What happens when the predator closes in on the prey? They run, and if you get close, they will do anything possible to get away. Every once in a while you will make a kill (sale), but that person will not be coming back to shop with you again. That is why I encourage you to value your customer and feed them kindness and gentleness. Instead of killing them with pushy sales tactics, they will flourish and will come back to be fed time and time again. This is how you build a customer base with the guarded customer.

The third and final concept I will share with you today is to honor and respect the customer. Every guarded customer you sell is like starting a new relationship. If they choose you, then a courtship begins as you go through your sales presentation. Just like dating, they are looking to see if you are worth a lifelong commitment. If you treat them with honor and respect, you will find yourself at the altar with your customer, closing the sale. Anyone who has been married will tell you that the moment you lift the veil is powerful and amazing. That moment sticks with them forever. You now have the knowledge and power to create this moment with every guarded customer you sell.

What I have shared with you is a vision and a plan to successfully sell a guarded customer. Next time, I will discuss ways to sell the demanding customer. You will not want to miss it.

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