For as long as any of us can remember, the No. 1 tool of sales training has been closing techniques. More books exist about “closing” and “magical closes” than any other sales topic. This is very likely why most people don’t like salespeople and dread visiting a dealership showroom to buy a vehicle.
Let’s consider how it feels to be “closed.” A person you just met uses a predetermined and practiced fancy set of words to get a commitment or back you into a corner and convince you to make a decision that you are not yet comfortable making. Does that sound like a good experience? Is this what you want people to share about you on social media? Stop closing and start serving your way to sales success.
Consumers are changing and most will not stand for the old tricks. In his book Spin Selling, Neil Rackham gives examples from the most comprehensive and well-funded sales study in history that shows the use of closing techniques actually leads to a lower success rate in sales. Customers are turned off. The most successful salespeople do not need to close customers because they have already served the needs of the customer before the time to make a purchasing decision arrives. How can you teach your team to serve their way to more sales and leave the cheesy closing techniques behind?
First, it’s time to drop the rigid sales process. Customers walk into your dealership armed with more information than ever before. If a customer has driven a Camry before and does not want to drive yours, just work the deal and give them the opportunity to buy a car from you. If the shopper is moving at the end of the month, do you really need to force them to walk the service drive and meet an advisor they will never need to call? Change your thinking about the sales process — It’s not about you anymore. Serve your customers by customizing your sales process to fulfill their shopping needs and make it easy for them to reward you with their business.
This does not mean you should eliminate all process all together. It is still important to capture customer information, learn about their needs and try to get a manager involved as early as possible. All of this shows your commitment to serving them. If you serve your customers well, they will return the favor.
Your customers live on social media and will share their experience with their peers — whether it is good or bad. You need to make sure it is good so that not only they return to buy cars from you but so do their friends and family. Social media stuttered and stalled at first for dealerships, but this could not be further from the truth today. If your dealership is not implementing a comprehensive social media strategy, you’d better get started today — or you might be gone tomorrow.
Many dealerships today are initiating the shopping experience with customers through Facebook lead generation ads. Facebook users see ads in their newsfeed and click to learn more, thus bringing in a fresh shopper. These people have not been to every dealership’s Website and are not looking for just the lowest possible price. The relationship with these people is initiated through social media and they expect a friendly “social” experience. Your classic closes will turn these people off and they will share their bad experience online. So, don’t do it.
When these customers come in, acknowledge the information they have already acquired through their research. Don’t waste their time forcing them through your road to the sale — talk about a square peg in a round hole. Maybe we should call this “Your Road to a Bad Customer Experience and No Sale.” Customize the sales process for each customer to fulfill their needs.
Today’s customer is different, and the old days of hard closing them are dying. Social media will crucify you if you don’t provide a great customer experience. The way to do this is to be flexible and serve your way to the sale. Your process should start with learning and understanding the information your customer has already obtained and then helping them learn the rest they need to make an informed buying decision. Once you have done this, you have earned the right to ask for their business. Give it a try. You will be amazed at the result a “servant” salesperson can produce. For a free copy of “Serving to the sale” please email me with “Serve” as the subject.