Here is a question I recently received from a young automobile salesperson:
"I'm a sales rep just starting off. I am 21 years old and have nine months experience at a (auto dealership) store. It is hard for me because I am very young. The rest of the sales guys are at least 40 with many years of experience. I would like to ask you for some personal tips so I can surpass these guys. I don't have a repeat client base quite yet, but I'm working up to it. I would appreciate if you wrote me back."
Here is the answer that I provided to this young go-getter:
You can really set yourself apart if you focus on learning how to ask questions to determine the key factors behind your prospects' buying decisions. If you ask good questions, your age will rapidly become a non-factor as your prospects gain respect for your courtesy and professionalism.
Ask penetrating, insightful questions and listen very carefully to each prospect's answers to your questions. Those answers will tell you whether the individual is a prospect that is worthy of a significant time investment, and, if they are, how you can best help them buy.
Too many automobile salespeople are focused on trying to cram a vehicle (any vehicle) down someone's throat. Or, they are fixated on features of vehicles that they themselves admire. Here is an example:
One time when I was looking at cars, I met a salesman that waxed eloquent about a particular car's engine, horsepower, 0 to 60 time, and other "gear head" specifications. I politely informed him that those things didn't matter much to me. As long as the car could perform decently when I was passing someone on the highway, that was all I needed to know about its engine and horsepower. I was more interested in the car's appearance and the quality of its interior appointments. Yet, even though I explicitly told the salesman what my primary interests were, he kept peppering his conversation with "gear head babble". I found his behavior to be quite amusing, but it didn't help him make a sale.
That doesn't mean you never want to discuss engine specifications with a prospect. Just reserve those conversations for people that are truly interested in such things. They will make themselves known by the kinds of questions they ask and the general focus of their comments.
When someone visits your dealership, a good place to start a conversation is by finding out what brought them into your store. Here are some questions you could ask:
Is there a particular type of vehicle or certain features they are especially interested in?
- Why are they looking at your specific brand? Is it because they have some loyalty to the brand, or did some other reason bring them into your store?
Why are they interested in that vehicle or those features?
What kind of vehicle are they driving currently?
What do they like about their current vehicle?
What would they like to change when they acquire their next vehicle?
How will they go about making their vehicle purchasing decision?
How do they prefer to acquire their vehicles (purchase or lease)?
What is their purchasing time frame?
What factors are driving their purchasing time frame?
People make buying decisions for an astonishing and ever-changing variety of reasons. Your mission is to determine the particular combination of reasons that is driving the buying decision for each
of your prospects. Be sure to avoid generalizations or stereotypes and treat each person as a unique individual
. Just because someone is a certain age, gender, ethnicity, etc. doesn't mean they will make their buying decision for the same reasons as others of the same or similar age, gender or ethnicity!
If you ask questions like the ones noted above, you will prepare yourself to provide the best possible service to your prospects. In many cases you will also help them clarify their own thinking about how they will make their buying decision.
Remember, people don't like to be sold, but they DO like to be helped to buy. Facilitate the buying process, help your buyers rationalize their purchases, and help them make choices that fulfill their needs and wants. When you do this, the end result will be happy, satisfied customers that buy from you repeatedly and provide numerous referrals!
Copyright 2005 -- Alan Rigg
Sales performance expert Alan Rigg is the author of How to Beat the 80/20 Rule in Selling: Why Most Salespeople Don't Perform and What to Do About It. To learn more about his book and sign up for more FREE sales and sales management tips, visit http://www.8020performance.com.