Customers Want To Feel Like They Are 'Buying', Not Being 'Sold'

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Hale Soucie

You are a successful dealership. You've sold tens of thousands of cars. But, how many have you bought? When I say ‘bought’ I mean how many cars have you bought going through the same processes that your customers go through? Being in the car business affords you the luxury of NOT having to go through what your customer goes through and until you get that experience, you’re more in the dark than you could ever imagine.

In a survey of 4,002 car shoppers and buyers, Autotrader found that only 17 of those surveyed liked the car buying process as it is.

This is the result of a lot of attitudes and training that dealers have implemented for their sales staff.

The common threads for most of the popular training methods are:

1. Take control

2. Ask questions

3. Perform the 'steps to the sale' at all costs.

A few years back, one of our associates performed a series of symposiums with dealerships along with some of their ‘trainers’. The question was asked of the trainers, salesmen and managers whether they think that, because they are in the business, “are you more tolerant of a sales pitch than your normal customer?” The answer inevitably came back: “yes, we're in the sales business, we have more toleration to sale pitches.”

What followed were a series of role-playing where these methods were used on the salesmen, trainers and managers. A common reaction occurred; irritation. All of the above mentioned ‘techniques’ had the unfortunate effect of creating an adversarial relationship. If these methods irritate and create an adversarial relationship with people who said that they are ‘more tolerant’, imagine what the general buying public must think!

Our associate developed a phone training system that monitored how salespeople handle incoming phone calls and offered an alternative training method. The basics of this system are to NOT block or evade the customer’s questions. Over several years’ dozens of dealerships participated resulting in a statistically significant sample size. The results of this monitoring showed that when questions were blocked or evaded only 4% of the call-ins eventually bought from that dealership. Conversely, when the customer’s questions were NOT blocked or evaded, the result was that 18% of those call-ins turned into sales.

The customer wants to buy a car. They don't want to feel like they got tricked into doing it. 

Taking all of this into consideration, we believe that sales teams should try to (when appropriate and possible):

1. Give control

2. Answer Questions

3. Let the customer direct a 'path to the buy'

It takes skill to do the new 1, 2 and 3 above. It takes product knowledge and listening skills. It requires a sense of understanding to know if you have, indeed, answered questions in a satisfactory manner. It is also much more enjoyable - for both parties. By not evading or trying to take control of the conversation, you can avoid an adversarial relationship that puts the customer at ease, and in the end helps you make the sale. 

There are many schools of thought when it comes to sales training, but a lot of the popular training methods for handling the phone as well as the in-person experience contribute heavily to the reasons that people "love to shop, love cars, but hate shopping for cars."

We hope that this blog post is helpful to you and has given you some new ideas about the sales process. We would like to hear what you think in the comment section below.

To discuss this blog post or find out what Edifice can do for you, please click the "Learn More" button below and an Edifice representative will reach out to you within one business day.

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