Appreciation comes with blue koozies
This is an actual email I received from a customer:
“I have been looking for a truck for a while now and happened by your lot at about 5 PM today to see if you had what I wanted. I drove through slowly, looking at both new and used. One of your salespeople – a lady – smelled blood in the water and started following my car on foot as I drove around. I left the lot and went to the used lot, and still she followed me. I felt like a tuna being pursued by a shark. I made a loop around the lot to get a closer drive by of a vehicle that I thought might fit what I wanted – which was a mistake, as it put me in a position where I was unable to avoid the shark any longer. This tuna was a goner. I had no option but to stop. I asked if I could help her. She introduced herself, and I immediately forgot her name, as I knew I would not be dealing with this person, then she asked if she could help me and asked my name. I declined to give it to her, and told her that I would not be dealing with her, and that I might consider dealing with someone else. She asked why, I and told her that she was too mercenary and made me uncomfortable by ‘stalking’ me. She seemed shocked at what I said, made a face, and walked away, I left the lot. If all of your salespeople are like this one, I will not be back to your dealership. Quite frankly, you need me far more than I need you. If I consider how many car dealers there are between Lafayette and Houston, it has to be well into the tens of thousands. I really have no dealer loyalty and very little brand loyalty. I really don’t much care where I buy a car – as long as I get a good deal and feel comfortable doing it. I did not feel comfortable at your dealership.”
A few days later, this man bought a truck…from us. We didn’t change our process; he didn’t get payoff for his trade; we didn’t sell the truck below cost, and his monthly payments ended up being higher than he initially agreed. Although this may seem like an anomaly, we did nothing outside of the norm other than we took the time to listen to and meet him in the midst of his fears. He had fears that he would not feel valued, would be pressured into buying, and would not get a good deal. How did we make him feel comfortable? We asked him.
When you’re facing resistance from your customer, you have a choice to make. Either you can prove your point by giving your customers the house rules of How They Should Buy A Car, which results in them giving up and abruptly leaving, or you can instead make the decision to give in. Of course the last thing a competitive salesperson ever wants to do is give in and tap out-conceding to a customer’s demands, but think of giving in as a temporary stint in order to allow your sales process to continue to flowingly move toward the permanency of making a sale. It’s not you-your customers don’t know you. When customers arrive, they are bringing the baggage of lies, unfulfilled promises, and the regrets of making costly decisions from past sales experiences with them. Because of those negative feelings, customers put up resistance in and effort to maintain control. They resist test-driving, giving their name and phone number, or coming inside because they don’t want to lose control and make the same mistake thrice.
The only way to overcome resistance is to not resist. When you run into opposition from your customer, discover and address their fears and adjust to their pace, by asking them questions such as, “How would you like for this to go?” “What direction would you like to take this?” “What is the next step for us to take from here?” Traditionally, we salespeople always want to set the pace, but pure power doesn’t always win the race-sometimes we must strategically draft behind the customer’s vehicle of concerns and fears and address them in order to sling shot ahead-earning their trust, resulting in a sale. In short, instead of being combative, sometimes we must comply with a customer’s uncertainties in order to find a mutual concession to move forward.
The next day the customer asked to see me in private. With a smirking shyness about him, he proudly presented me with a blue koozie that he brought back home after working in Russia. Evading eye contact, he said to me, “I’ve bought many, many cars in my lifetime and this was the easiest, most pleasant experience I’ve ever received.”
Sometimes even the most valuable lessons come from the thankful simplicity of a blue koozie. I’ll see you next time on the blacktop.