I was at a dealership recently with a young sales representative who had been in the business for a while. This gentleman is always energetic, always thrilled to be at work and to utilize his experiences!
However, after our training session as I was debriefing with the management and the team, his phone rang. Of course we all told him to go ahead and take it – it was a customer, and we all know you never turn away a call from a prospective buyer!
However, as the conversation went on, I felt myself deflating more and more. This brilliant rep that I knew had the skill to deliver a ridiculous amount of vehicles and simultaneously a ridiculous amount of success for himself made a serious mistake that very likely cost him the sale.
Here’s some backstory: This team member had a customer who was looking to purchase a truck – a brand new 2016 model. Now this would be a very solid sale – it was a great looking vehicle and had pretty much all the available options in it. Unfortunately, it had been sold just a few days earlier.
So when this customer called to see if it was still there, if he could come have another look at it, etc., the team member I’m talking about takes on a tone that belongs at a funeral, and says this:
“Unfortunately, we don’t have it anymore… Yes sir, it was sold. We do have a three-year newer model of it here that you may want to have a look at but… it has a car proof on it… it’s been in an accident.”
As he spoke, his tone got more and more apologetic, more and more negative, until just listening to the conversation was making me feel depressed. It was all I could do not to snatch the phone out of his hand to try to salvage this sale, but I knew that if nothing else, this would be an incredibly valuable lesson.
Now, I give him full credit for trying to redirect the customer to another vehicle that they would love. That approach is not wrong, and it’s a great way to handle it when a unit that one of your potential clients has been looking at gets sold.
But his tone made it sound, even to me, like the customer was going to be getting an inferior car, an inferior model, and an inferior experience.
You’ve heard it hundreds of times now, folks: perception is reality. The way that this sales representative was approaching the situation was creating an unconscious perception in the customer that this was a huge problem – even a dealbreaker.
Fortunately, the customer did not seem too put off, and agreed to come in and look at the alternative vehicle the next day, so all was not lost.
But as soon as he got off the phone, this team member noticed me staring at him in disbelief and was confused. He hadn’t even realized that his own discouragement was audible to everyone in the room and didn’t seem to notice the black cloud he had conjured hanging above all of our heads.
I explained to him how he had sounded on that phone call, and he immediately realized his mistake. He was worried that the customer would balk and was feeling discouraged and didn’t realize it was coming off to everyone around him as well.
“Hey, Bob! I have some fantastic news. The model you were looking at was sold, but we actually have a much newer model of it with all the features you were looking for, AND we have a fantastic opportunity to save you some dough on it. The newer truck had a fender bender a while back that fixed up good as new right away, but that one tiny bump in the street just saved you upwards of ten thousand on a newer, better version of the vehicle you initially wanted. When can you get in to pick it up?”
Surely you see the difference, even in just reading the text and not hearing for yourself. The second approach is full of Attitude, Conviction, and Energy, and frames the customer’s potential negative perception of an accident on the car into a having a dedicated salesperson who is going above and beyond to get them a great deal on a great vehicle – a better one, in fact, than they had initially been looking for.
The approach is so important, folks! Not only the way you approach a customer for the first time when they walk onto the lot – the way you approach situations is equally important. Always be aware of the angle you’re coming from, because whether you realize it or not, your potential buyers will always follow your lead.
So remember: bring that Attitude, Conviction, and Energy to EVERY situation, Your customers – and your paychecks – will thank you for it!
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