The Rise of the Consumer
When your customer’s product knowledge exceeds that of their sales professional, it may be time to recommit to the basic tenets of superior sales skills and high CSI.
August 2017, Auto Dealer Today - Feature
Wouldn’t you agree that we salespeople are lay-downs for a sale? Wouldn’t you also agree we appreciate a super-talented salesperson who provides exemplary service when we purchase something? Fine dining, clothes, boats, houses … In fact, you get so excited that you offer them a job selling cars! Money always follows service.
Then answer me this: Why do we allow the consumer to be better-educated and have more product knowledge than we do? Isn’t our business a relationship business?
Fail to Disappoint
I have learned that it’s wise to underpromise and overdeliver. You can’t get far by disappointing people. Unfortunately, just as water follows the path of least resistance, many of your salespeople are doing the minimum when it comes to product knowledge, test rides and service walks.
Fish rot from the head down. Never become so complacent or internet-dependent that senior leadership falls asleep at the wheel. CSI hinges on performance attributes. I’ve heard that your charming character will sell you 30-plus vehicles a month, too.
A friend and mentor of mine used to say that better than 99.9% of people in our industry are high-quality professionals with nothing but the customer’s best interests in mind. But as with any industry or profession, a few bad apples take the benefit of the doubt from everyone else. Opinions are formed with the lowest common denominator as the norm.
Accountability standards must be established, maintained and tracked consistently within your team — regardless of its size.
Masters of Sales
When I was a salesman, I would have a dust cloth visible in my rear pocket when each guest picked up their new vehicle. I would hop in the passenger seat and tell them the first tank was on us. We would drive to the gas station down the road and I would hop out and start the pump.
With the handle locked in place and the gas flowing, I would walk to the front, look down the sides, pull out the dust cloth, and wipe a couple spots. Other people at the station would comment, “Hey, G.P., you sold another one!” The customer would be beaming. It was an enjoyable moment made even more memorable with a bit of flair and a clear demonstration of our high standard for service.
You have no doubt read that 10,000 hours of practice are required before one becomes brilliant at one’s chosen occupation. A similar effort should be applied to mastering all the minor things in your life. No task is too small to practice if it’s part of your day-to-day activities.
We go to the doctor if we are injured or sick. We have a discussion and take their advice. Car buyers seek our counsel. So come on, folks, let’s put the “pro” back in our “pro”-fession. Our customers spend thousands and thousands of their hard-earned dollars on transportation. We owe them a productive experience.
Yes, becoming a master can be challenging. But we as an industry need to look at ourselves with both eyes wide open and all the competence and skill expected of a professional in all departments.
G.P. Anderson is finance director of Thielen Motors Chevrolet Buick in Park Rapids, Minn., and a 25-year industry veteran. He is ACE- and AFIP-certified, a 2008 F&I Pacesetter and winner of the inaugural 2011 F&Idol contest. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.