Most consumers are leery of car salesmen. And that’s understandable because car sales usually means a lack of price transparency, a high price tag, and pressure.
As soon as I walk into a car dealership – and I’ve purchased more than my share of used cars! – my hackles rise up because I’m approached by salespeople looking for a fresh victim.
Everything in sales comes down to the salesperson’s attitude.
Here are a few tips:
- Be sincere and curious
- Stay humble
- Try to be helpful
- Want what is best for your customer
- Don’t close too soon
As a salesperson, your attitude matters more than anything else.
Be aware that the customer is likely to be skeptical and hold a “used car salesman” bias. Counter that narrative by being different from any other car salesperson the customer has met before.
Build community loyalty
Pressuring a customer to purchase can work in the short term. But it never results in long-term loyalty.
And since word of mouth referrals – people talking about you to their friends – is the ultimate mark of success in any business, a primary goal of your salespeople should be building loyalty within your local community.
This can mean the subcultures that each of your salespeople lives within – a neighborhood, the local recreation league, someone’s favorite coffee shop – and also your city itself.
People talk about their experiences. So it should be the job of each of your salespeople to create positive experiences and generate goodwill towards your business.
Become the mayor
You want your business to become the “mayor” of your city. When people think of your town, you are one of the first names that comes to mind.
This can either be you, as the owner of the business, or something that represents your business, like a mascot or the logo.
One way to approach this is to run for local office: city counsel, leader of the Parent’s Association, etc. But this can also be implied power.
- Start a hyper-local podcast or newsletter
- Gather a group together once a week or once a month to do community service like filling potholes or planting trees
Doing things that someone with deep ties to a community would do is a way to generate goodwill.
The value of cold call
Doubtless, you’ve already considered the benefit of having your salespeople make cold calls. But I think that the likelihood of actually selling cars by “dialing for dollars” is very low.
To do so a salesperson has to reach someone who is:
- Available now
- Already looking to buy
- Wants the kind of cars that you sell
- Already trusts your dealership (at least enough to listen)
If any of these four aren’t true, then cold calling damages the reputation of your business.
Instead, I suggest cold calling for a completely different purpose. Teach your salespeople to make cold calls to collect information.
Here’s a script:
Do you mind if I take 3 minutes of your time?
I’m calling from your local BMW dealership but I am not calling you to try to sell a car. Instead, I’m just collecting some demographic information about local residents so that we can be a better part of this community.
Again, I’m not here to sell you a car. Do you mind if I ask you three brief questions?
If they respond in the affirmative, proceed:
What is your perception of BMW cars?
What is your perception of car dealerships?
End the call by asking if they would like to be added to your free monthly newsletter, which is about the goings-on in your region. Thank them for their time, appreciate them for the time you’ve spent together and encourage them to reach out if you can help them in the future.
This approach will help your salespeople get better, spread the brand of your business, and generate future leads. The last question, What is your perception of car dealerships? will highlight for your salespeople the perception that they are having to combat to build customer loyalty in the region.
The prospect will be pleasantly surprised when the salesperson doesn’t try to sell them a car at the end of the call, thus ending on a positive note.
Hire great people
It goes without saying that you want to hire great salespeople. But instead of focusing solely on people who always hit sales quotas, hire people who add to the reputation of your company through goodwill and long term customer loyalty.
A great salesperson who also alienates customers or employees does more harm to your business.
Define what a great salesperson brings to your company, and don’t settle for less.
We often overlook the importance of company culture in sales. After all, the purpose is to close more deals and make more money!
The cohesion of your sales team matters. One overly pushy salesperson can model for the rest of the team an approach that will alienate customers.
When we put a smiling face on what is actually an unhappy working environment, our customers can tell the difference. Similarly, customers know when a member of your team really, sincerely enjoys their job, and is excited to be a part of the company.
A culture that derides the worst performing salesperson or hazes newly incoming team members creates an environment that will, invariably, trickle out to the customer’s experience.
I’ve written a book about the importance of team culture, so start here.
A culture of feedback
One important aspect of company culture, particularly in sales, is creating a culture of feedback.
Sales teams often only provide feedback during the onboarding process of a new salesperson. But every salesperson – and everybody! – can benefit from feedback. And in a thriving company culture, every employee should want to.
Here are a few ways to incorporate feedback into the daily cadence of your company:
- Learning & development budget – allocate $500 per employee per quarter for their own education. This could include books, courses, events, etc.
- Bring in guest speakers – bring in a guest speaker for a monthly Lunch & Learn.
- Ask employees to teach – ask employees to teach something they are excited about a few times a year. Organizing a Lightning Talks evening where employees give a 5 minute talk on a topic of their choosing. Employees can also give the speaker feedback on their presentation.
- Organized sales feedback – set aside an hour a week or a day each month where your team members give each other feedback. Have an employee shadow another on a prospective sale and then give the salesperson feedback on their affect and attitude afterwards.
One of the phrases least likely to be uttered about a typical salesperson is that they are generous.
The common perception is that a salesperson wants to take advantage of the customer. It is your responsibility to contradict this narrative by being incredibly generous with your time and effort on behalf of each customer that you work with.
As often as possible go to the extra effort with each person you come into contact with to help them – even if that help has nothing to do with the sale you are aiming for.
By being unexpectedly generous you foster long-term relationships and make it more likely that a customer will come back in the future.
Until next week,