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It is my belief that these two questions need to be asked every time before leaving the customer to get a proposal from management.
Next to the last question to ask the customer before getting up to go for desk assistance:
You have given the customer a chance to share the other equipment they may be considering. These are items they ask you to throw in if you want them to sign up. Often times it’s when you can least afford it; after you have already made previous deal concessions.
Maybe you really can afford to throw it in or at least share the cost with the customer. Why not nip this issue in the bud before it has a chance to cost you money, or even put the deal at risk? After you ask this question, and they said “no”, a few may still try later. However, this is when you simply state (with a smile of course),
Every desk manager has experienced salespeople who really need and want the deal. Some are hoping management will go along with the program and throw it in the deal. I also know there are many strong, non-bashful salespeople who don’t lay down and write up the offer. These people see it as hundred dollar bills they don’t want to give up unless of course, it’s already a Mini (I’m joking right? Not! ). They hold firm for the dealership because they run with extreme pride when desking their deals.
Let’s move on to question number two. Ask this final question before getting up and desking your deals:
Let me share my strong feelings for the precise wording here. First, I use the assumptive word “when”, not “if”. Next, the phrase “complete the rest of the paperwork, right now, correct?” (of course with an affirming head nod and a smile).
I mean, “do all the paperwork right now” isn’t walking on eggshells. “Do the paperwork right now” is no soft shoe, and if there’s anything else that needs to be flushed out, it’s about to surface. Any other potential obstacles or loose ends in the customer's mind is coming out now.
It’s not unusual for salespeople to ask “If we get the figures right could we earn your business today?”, or some version of this. I always want to avoid saying the same things other customers hear at other dealerships. With “earn your business today”, they can say “yes” with less commitment than the above alternative. Some say “yes” just to see what figures you can do, then ask for you to write it down on your exit visa, that’s your business card. And then, of course, they state they’ll “get back with you before they do anything.” The old joke used to be; “Ok, when you come back ask for “blue boy”; that’s me in the corner holding my breath waiting for you to come back.”
It sounds like we taught them how to ask the question, the less effective way. Don’t reprogram them after training them, because they will always ask the customer the same way you asked them.
Ok, one last thing.
If you require salespeople to fill out a needs assessment sheet with customers, then these two questions should be added to the very bottom, post demo, pre-desking.
If you would like to discuss this segment or any other issues important to you, give me a call. I’ll do my best to assist.
3 Strategies to Improve Vehicle Sales Gross IMMEDIATELY...
Richard Keeney, Co-Founder
The Mar-Kee Group
The Mar-Kee Group is the leading provider of Automotive, Boat & RV Sales, Service & Management Training Solutions.
Some relief and resolution has arrived! Below is the revised “Customer Solutions Review” tool. We have provided a sample for you to review. I strongly recommend this as a “deal desking” strategy to help a salesperson (and management) develop a "fixed" mentality before serving the proposal to the customer.
The bottom line is, salespeople must guard against customers getting into their head too much. This can often cause salespeople to think about the math alone, and dwell on how far off the numbers are from all that the customer has shared (or dumped.)
The features and equipment enhancement summary (see below) is very important. When you stack up all the features and benefits that they will enjoy, you keep the needle toward the emotional part of the brain. This is also beneficial for management to embrace. Consider reviewing a completed form with the salesperson, helping them mentally prepare before going back with the proposal. As a manager taking a T.O., this will be a good ammunition for the cause as well. Remember, this can be utilized when desking new as well as for pre-owned deals.
· Cover and train this strategy in sales meetings
· Pick a few sample scenarios
· Begin filling these out on every deal, immediately, with or without a trade
· Discuss the experience and impact it is having
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We all do better after rehearsal. This is an absolute must when working with newer salespeople. To that we say, trust, yet verify. Start this strategy now and immediately improve this critical part of closing deals.
Some clients didn't realize they had some salespeople who were, let's say…less than effective when presenting the initial proposal. This could even give some managers the opportunity to praise others, which helps their confidence every time! Either way, they all feel like they have a better handle on something that they had taken for granted.
Remember…this is about development and building confidence. It should be dealt with in as positive a light as possible.
1. Eye contact?
3. Assumptive posture?
4. Do they ask for the business?
5. Words used, tone and body language?
6. Are they prepared to respond versus react when hit with the most common
7. Is your salesperson sold on the deal? Replace any fear with an assumptive
and courageous posture.
Need help with your role-playing training efforts? Call The Mar-Kee Group 888-300-4629.
The Mar-Kee Group
The Mar-Kee Group is proud to celebrate 20 years of outstanding Sales, Service, and Management Training.
Many times, salespeople contact potential customers through email and then wait to get a response, if they ever get one at all. Though email is a convenient and important tool for businesses, the best way to develop and maintain customer relations is through brief, well thought out conversations on the phone.
Phone calls show customers you care and helps them connect on a more personal level. Taking the time to make these scheduled calls will go a long way in ensuring you will be on the customer’s radar when the time comes for another purchase.
There are many good reasons to contact customers throughout the year. These contacts can be made in a variety of ways—through phone calls, email and of course texting. Should you have a prospect that is in the decision making process, the phone call and text are by far the best method of communicating.
But having a plan before you call is just as important as the call itself. Your salespeople should be strategic and know what they are going to say prior to the call. Whether it is a check-up call, service call, or to answer questions the customer may have, knowing how to address issues or concerns is crucial. Make sure you have a planned response when leaving a voicemail too.
In today’s technology age, potential customers do their research first on the internet before going to the dealership. In most cases, they will call first to ask about a vehicle they have seen on the internet and obtain more details before stopping in to see it firsthand.
This is where having phone expertise is key. Addressing a customer’s questions and alleviating any possible concerns they may have (i.e. the mileage is too high or the model is older than they were looking for) is an important step to holding on to a potential sale.
Salespeople need to have a planned response to a question or concern before the call. For example, if an interested buyer was calling about a pre-owned vehicle you had on the lot and the miles on the vehicle made them uncomfortable, a good response to their objection would be:
“Well I appreciate your concern, but you may be pleased to know that our dealer’s pricing philosophy is to price every vehicle according to its precise mileage and condition. For example, if the miles were lower, this vehicle would certainly be priced higher. If you are more comfortable investing more to one with lower miles, I can investigate and see what other vehicles we have similar to this one and we’ll go from there. What I do recommend, since this one interested you, is to come see and maybe drive it, and in the meantime I’ll be looking into other options for you. What would be a good appointment time for you?”
Also, by providing them more options with lower miles, or whatever their preference may be, you are telling them you understand their needs and want to help them find the best car, RV or boat for them.
Therefore don’t volunteer too much information right away. Offer to show them the product in person and then give them the full details. A prospect seeing a vehicle, boat or RV in person will allow you to greatly increase the probability of closing the deal. The ability to see, touch, and drive it firsthand helps the customer imagine themselves owning it.
Another question that troubles some salespeople while on the phone, is when a customer asks if this is the best price, or says you have to work more on the price. Sometimes this is simply a test, they’re just doing their job and want assurance they don’t spend more than they absolutely have to.
One good response could be “We may have a little room, but the best thing you can do is come in to get a closer look, drive it, and let’s make certain it’s the right vehicle. If it is, then we will work hard to get you a fair proposal. When is a good time for you to come in?”
Many times, people will call in about a vehicle they are interested in, but exclude the fact they also have a vehicle they may want to trade in. By asking if they do, and that you are motivated to help them get the most money out of their trade, you are establishing trust and confidence in your service. People can be suspicious of dealerships because of the perception that the dealership is only in it for themselves. By assuring a potential customer you are looking out for their best interest and want to give them the best deal you can offer, it shows the customer you care about their needs and concerns.
You can also create some urgency when you express that their timing is perfect. Letting them know that your dealership needs pre-owned inventory more than ever and this will have a possible impact on the purchase price they receive.
The Mar-Kee Group offers many video tutorials to help salespeople make the most out of phone calls and other important sales topics. To watch a demo video on Ultimate Phone Expertise, click here.
The Mar-Kee Group offers comprehensive sales training programs for both automotive, boat and RV. Find out how our training can help your dealership!
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First off, I’m not painting all salespeople with a wide brush here. Face it, it may be human nature for some to lack the conviction when they have a good bit of doubt about the anticipated customer's reaction to a proposal.
I'm not insinuating that most salespeople are lacking conviction when serving the proposal to customers. I am recommending that management discuss this with the team, that they must get their heads in the game at proposal time. They certainly need to be reminded that they are counted on to remain very assumptive so they can be influential on the customer's response to the proposal.
I don’t know if you read the blog on The Mar-Kee Group's website, “Get Mentally Fixed Before Serving the Proposal by Richard Keeney”, regarding how many customers can “get into the helmet” of a salesperson, with all the discouraging remarks and price positioning statements during the visit. I urge you to read this blog and share it with your team. To lighten this up a bit, I wanted to share a variety of “tongue in cheek” versions of comments a salesperson might make serving the proposal, when they don’t think it will close, and fear the customer will attack!
Find the humor. Then be on a serious mission to make sure all salespeople are giving customers a chance to feel good enough to close!
Here are a few ways that DO NOT work:
Try saying this:
“Great news, I think you’re going to like this. Fair market price on your new vehicle equipped just like you selected is $_______. They’re going to pay you $_______ for yours, just like it sits and that brings us to a difference of only $______ plus of course the taxes and fees. Ok the proposal right here and we’ll get the rest of the paperwork started.”
This is another good argument for having the salesperson role-play the proposal with management at the desk to ensure they are ready for the event. They will always do better the second time. It may be expensive assuming that the salesperson has the right frame of mind for the results you seek.
Role Play: The Ultimate Sales Tool
Photo credit: Shutterstock
Customers looking to buy a new or pre-owned vehicle will always be looking to get the best deal. It’s hardwired in most of us to attempt negotiations. Where you end up, if you get the deal, and how good the customer feels about it is dependent on the salesperson knowing something acceptable and convincing to say next.
Whether you use this up front (before the initial proposal) or in response to a request for additional concessions, it’s one of the best ways to “pass the test” when a customer wants to make sure they aren’t leaving money on the table. Mastering the art of replying with the best acceptable responses to price objections has never been more important than today.
Train your team on this strategy and continue to discuss until all have this down to an art form where it’s simply a conversation taking place. Understand that if some are not prepared to handle price objections professionally, they will continue to react instead of respond, losing deal momentum and selling you on cutting the deal more!
Many times, the opportunity to sell a customer originated from their internet research, where they discovered you had a vehicle they want and at an acceptable price. However, this will not keep most of them from wanting an additional discount. It’s the old psychological reality of, “If this is what they are asking, then I want to start the deal from there.”
When a customer sees something in writing, it tends to be a bit more convincing. A visual backup validates things as more factual, as opposed to a verbal response only. We recommend the following script be on a professional document and are happy to provide one customized for your dealership.
(See script and visual tool below.)
Utilize the original MSRP as you begin your conversations with a customer and while presenting the vehicle. This falls right into the concept of “Theory of Contrast”. This is another opportunity for you to be pro-active in eliminating or minimizing some of the customer’s intentions of getting a lower price. Obviously, the objective here is for them to feel even better about their investment and to lessen the chance they have additional illusions of “savingsdeur”.
Example discussion: “Mr/Mrs __________, the original MSRP, or price of your vehicle when it was new was $36,800, and at $36,800 it was a great value. Let me share what the original owner received for $36,800, and what you’ll be getting even though your investment is only $24,900.”
Most customers need some assurance that they are indeed saving a significant amount of money looking at Pre-owned, which tends to validate the wisdom in their purchase strategy.
As mentioned above, we are very motivated to help your dealership customize these strategies into your own words and professional documents. As leaders in Automotive, Boat and RV sales training, The Mar-Kee Group takes every effort to ensure our clients and their employees are confident and empowered by the tools we offer. Ultimately, it means happier customers that return time and again to your dealership, increased overall sales, and boosted morale for your sales team. A win-win-win for everyone involved! Contact us with any questions or for more information on our sales training courses and strategies.
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Structure and accountability allows an organization, as well as its employees to thrive. Managers have a huge responsibility to make volume and gross a priority, but must not ever “widen the plate” for anyone or for any reason.
Take a look at your current standards, policies and procedures. Pay close attention to dress codes, arrival times and conduct expectations.
It is our hope that after your examination, you have much about which to feel proud in regard to structure and accountability. We hope that it is the exception, as opposed to the rule, where you might on occasion get relaxed and “widen the plate.”
Apply Mr. Scolinos’s wisdom (below), and in the end you will take more of your employees to places they didn’t think they could go, and as a “parent,” you have raised adults, not children. Take to heart the advice from this very wise coach.
In Nashville, Tennessee, during the first week of January, 1996, more than 4,000 baseball coaches descended upon the Opryland Hotel for the 52nd annual ABCA convention.
While I waited in line to register with the hotel staff, I heard other more veteran coaches rumbling about the lineup of speakers scheduled to present during the weekend. One name, in particular, kept resurfacing, always with the same sentiment — “John Scolinos is here? Oh man, worth every penny of my airfare.”
Who the hell is John Scolinos, I wondered. No matter, I was just happy to be there.
I woke early the next morning and found myself alone in the massive convention hall, reviewing my notes from the day before: pitching mechanics, hitting philosophy, team practice drills. All technical and typical — important stuff for a young coach, and I was in Heaven.
At the end of the morning session, certain that I had accurately scouted the group dynamic and that my seat would again be waiting for me after lunch, I allowed myself a few extra minutes to sit down and enjoy an overpriced sandwich in one of the hotel restaurants. But when I returned to the convention hall thirty minutes before the lunch break ended, not only was my seat not available, barely any seats were available!
I managed to find one between two high school coaches, both proudly adorned in their respective team caps and jackets. Disappointed in myself for losing my seat up front, I wondered what had pried all these coaches from their barstools. I found the clinic schedule in my bag: “1 PM John Scolinos, Cal Poly Pamona.” It was the man whose name I had heard buzzing around the lobby two days earlier. Could he be the reason that all 4,000 coaches had returned, early, to the convention hall? Wow, I thought, this guy must really be good.
I had no idea.
In 1996, Coach Scolinos was 78 years old and five years retired from a college coaching career that began in 1948. He shuffled to the stage to an impressive standing ovation, wearing dark polyester pants, a light blue shirt, and a string around his neck from which home plate hung — a full-sized, stark-white home plate.
Seriously, I wondered, who in the hell is this guy?
After speaking for twenty-five minutes, not once mentioning the prop hanging around his neck, Coach Scolinos appeared to notice the snickering among some of the coaches. Even those who knew Coach Scolinos had to wonder exactly where he was going with this, or if he had simply forgotten about home plate since he’d gotten on stage.
Then, finally …
“You’re probably all wondering why I’m wearing home plate around my neck. Or maybe you think I escaped from Camarillo State Hospital,” he said, his voice growing irascible. I laughed along with the others, acknowledging the possibility. “No,” he continued, “I may be old, but I’m not crazy. The reason I stand before you today is to share with you baseball people what I’ve learned in my life, what I’ve learned about home plate in my 78 years.”
Several hands went up when Scolinos asked how many Little League coaches were in the room. “Do you know how wide home plate is in Little League?” After a pause, someone offered, “Seventeen inches,” more question than answer.
“That’s right,” he said. “How about in Babe Ruth? Any Babe Ruth coaches in the house?”
Another long pause.
“Seventeen inches?” Came a guess from another reluctant coach.
“That’s right,” said Scolinos. “Now, how many high school coaches do we have in the room?” Hundreds of hands shot up, as the pattern began to appear. “How wide is home plate in high school baseball?”
“Seventeen inches,” they said, sounding more confident.
“You’re right!” Scolinos barked. “And you college coaches, how wide is home plate in college?”
“Seventeen inches!” we said, in unison.
“Any Minor League coaches here? How wide is home plate in pro ball?”
“RIGHT! And in the Major Leagues, how wide home plate is in the Major Leagues?”
“SEV-EN-TEEN INCHES!” he confirmed, his voice bellowing off the walls. “And what do they do with a Big League pitcher who can’t throw the ball over seventeen inches?” Pause. “They send him to Pocatello!” he hollered, drawing raucous laughter.
“What they don’t do is this: they don’t say, ‘Ah, that’s okay, Jimmy. You can’t hit a seventeen-inch target? We’ll make it eighteen inches, or nineteen inches. We’ll make it twenty inches so you have a better chance of hitting it. If you can’t hit that, let us know so we can make it wider still, say twenty-five inches.'”
” … what do we do when our best player shows up late to practice? When our team rules forbid facial hair and a guy shows up unshaven? What if he gets caught drinking? Do we hold him accountable? Or do we change the rules to fit him, do we widen home plate?
The chuckles gradually faded as four thousand coaches grew quiet, the fog lifting as the old coach’s message began to unfold. He turned the plate toward himself and, using a Sharpie, began to draw something. When he turned it toward the crowd, point up, a house was revealed, complete with a freshly drawn door and two windows. “This is the problem in our homes today. With our marriages, with the way we parent our kids. With our discipline. We don’t teach accountability to our kids, and there is no consequence for failing to meet standards. We widen the plate!”
Pause. Then, to the point at the top of the house he added a small American flag.
“This is the problem in our schools today. The quality of our education is going downhill fast and teachers have been stripped of the tools they need to be successful, and to educate and discipline our young people. We are allowing others to widen home plate! Where is that getting us?”
Silence. He replaced the flag with a Cross.
“And this is the problem in the Church, where powerful people in positions of authority have taken advantage of young children, only to have such an atrocity swept under the rug for years. Our church leaders are widening home plate!”
I was amazed. At a baseball convention where I expected to learn something about curveballs and bunting and how to run better practices, I had learned something far more valuable. From an old man with home plate strung around his neck, I had learned something about life, about myself, about my own weaknesses and about my responsibilities as a leader. I had to hold myself and others accountable to that which I knew to be right, lest our families, our faith, and our society continue down an undesirable path.
“If I am lucky,” Coach Scolinos concluded, “you will remember one thing from this old coach today. It is this: if we fail to hold ourselves to a higher standard, a standard of what we know to be right; if we fail to hold our spouses and our children to the same standards, if we are unwilling or unable to provide a consequence when they do not meet the standard; and if our schools and churches and our government fail to hold themselves accountable to those they serve, there is but one thing to look forward to …”
With that, he held home plate in front of his chest, turned it around, and revealed its dark black backside.
“… dark days ahead.”
Coach Scolinos died in 2009 at the age of 91, but not before touching the lives of hundreds of players and coaches, including mine. Meeting him at my first ABCA convention kept me returning year after year, looking for similar wisdom and inspiration from other coaches. He is the best clinic speaker the ABCA has ever known because he was so much more than a baseball coach.
His message was clear: “Coaches, keep your players — no matter how good they are — your own children, and most of all, keep yourself at seventeen inches.”
He was, indeed, worth the airfare.
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