Following is the second of a three-part series:
By Bob Clements
In the first article of this series, I wrote about the selling process and focused specifically on the first two elements: greeting and qualification. The greeting is the first part of the selling process and the one element that is most overlooked by salespeople. From the moment potential customers enter your dealership, you begin uncovering their perspective on how they will buy and whether they are open or closed toward interacting with you. We moved from the greeting to qualification. At this stage of the selling process, we learned the importance of building rapport and the value of asking specific questions that lead potential customers to tell us what they are interested in buying, and how they will go about making that decision. At the end of this step, we have a customer who is comfortable and the information we need to transition into doing a presentation or demonstration of our equipment.
Making the transition
It is important as you move customers from qualification into the presentation process that you determine the most effective way to present your products to them. You will find that people primarily buy based upon one of three ways: what they see, what they hear, or how it feels to them. With that in mind, I like to ask customers a quick question such as, “Would you prefer if I showed you some of the features on this mower first, told you about the mower, or let you just hop up on the seat and get a feel for it?”
By asking that question before I begin my presentation or demonstration, I am making sure that what I do from the very start is going to have maximum impact on the individual’s buying decision. Customers responding “Give me a quick overview,” will most likely make their buying decision based on what they see, not what I say. On the other hand, if they say, “Tell me a little bit about how this mower would work on the hills on my property,” I know that what I say will have more impact on their buying decision than the actual equipment itself. Finally, they could say, “I would like to give it a quick try. Would you mind?” In that case, they will base their decision upon how the equipment handles and feels to them, and the verdict will have very little to do with what I show or tell them.
Based on their response to that question, I will take the information that I gather during the qualification process and begin to position the equipment in their mind to match the criteria they shared with me from the very beginning.
A challenge most people have when they are trying to sell a piece of equipment, is their inability to shut up. As I train salespeople, I stress the importance of remembering that God gave us two ears and one mouth for a reason — so that we can listen twice as much as we talk. During the presentation or demonstration part of the selling process, your goal is to make sure the customer talks more than you. Selling is not telling; selling is asking customers questions, listening for their responses, and guiding them down the path they tell you that they want to go down. Most salespeople suffer from diarrhea of the mouth and just won’t stop talking long enough to make the sale.
Of all the tools you have at your disposal in sales, one of the most overlooked is the “lowly brochure.” Most dealers have a wall or rack that is packed with beautiful, expensive brochures that are drooping over from lack of use. That’s because most salespeople have never been shown how brochures are actually supposed to be used. When customers come to your dealership to look at equipment, one of two things will happen — they are either going to buy or they are going to leave. There is absolutely no middle ground. I don’t care how good or slick you are as a salesperson, it happens to everyone all the time. That’s where your brochure comes into play. It becomes the tool you use to jot down notes, highlight, or draw on as you work customers through this phase of the selling process. If the customer decides to buy from you, then you can toss out the brochure — no harm, no foul. On the other hand, if the customer decides to leave without buying, you have created a customized take-home sales piece, highlighting the key points both parties agreed on. When the customer goes home or talks to other dealers, your brochure serves as a reminder about you, your dealership and the equipment.
Just say “yes”
Selling is about moving customers to say “yes,” and the presentation or demonstration is the point in the process where we begin to build momentum toward the big “yes” or the close that we will be discussing in the next article. To create “yes” momentum, it’s important that you ask questions that are easy for the customer to answer “yes.” Asking a customer a question like, “It’s important to find the right equipment for your situation, wouldn’t you agree?” is a simple way to get the customer to start saying “yes” to you. No one is going to answer “no” to that question. As you ask simple “yes” questions, make sure you gently nod your head up and down. That movement of your head will subconsciously trigger the customer’s head to move up and down and give you the momentum needed for the close. Just as a reminder, don’t overuse the questions or you will make your customers feel like they are being sold and they will begin to tune you out.
As you do your presentation or demonstration, it is important to observe your customers’ reactions to your questions or statements. Look for any sign that they disagree with you. The most visible sign is when their eyebrows turn down when you are talking. That facial movement is a sign that they don’t agree with what you just said and that you immediately need to stop, back up, and ask a question or restate what you said.
Objections are a natural part of the selling process. I don’t care who you are or how good you are, objections are going to creep in at some point during your presentation. Objections fall into the following three categories:
When you get an objection, the most important thing to do is relax and understand that an objection is not a way for customers to keep from doing business with you; it is a process that they go through to try and justify why they should buy from you. As a professional, it’s your job to help guide them through the process.
An objection of skepticism is a statement customers make to you that shows disbelief in something you said. If customers say, “I’m just not convinced that this equipment will do what I need it to do,” they have expressed skepticism. As a result, you will need to help them through it by giving them names of other people like them that expressed the same concerns, but are now happy they invested in the equipment. Your goal is to have a few customers with whom they can check with to validate that what you are saying is true. Keep in mind with skepticism, you saying more to them will not improve your situation. You need to bring in an outside source that has no skin in the game.
When it comes to customers whose objections are of indifference, your goal is to focus on how their future situation may change and how by making the investment in the equipment, they will be ready to deal with whatever comes up. Keep in mind that most of the time customers are indifferent to you and to what you are presenting; they are using a sales tactic on you. Think of the last time you wanted to buy a car, but didn’t want the salesperson to know you were interested. What did you do? You acted like you didn’t care because you wanted to have some leverage when it came time to making the deal. Your goal was to make the salesperson believe that you would walk away if your demands weren’t met. Most of your customers who are indifferent are doing the same thing to you.
With indifference, take that brochure you were customizing for them during the presentation and go point by point over what they agreed they wanted.
Of all three types of objections, opposition is by far the most common. Opposition happens when the customer is unhappy about some aspect of what you have been presenting — in most cases, it will be the price. As a matter of fact, the most frequently heard objections by salespeople are, “Your price is too high,” or “It costs too much.” When customers make either of those two objections, the first thing you always do is agree with them. If a customer said to me, “Bob, your price on that chain saw is just too high,” I would agree by saying, “Well, today most things are too high. Have you purchased any fuel lately?” I would then laugh with the customer and say, “Well, based upon what you told me, this saw will do everything you wanted and expected from a professional saw. Was there something I missed?” At that point, the customer has to either say “yes” or “no.” If the customer says “yes,” then you need to back up and take time to re-qualify that person. If the customer says “no,” then that person has mentally purchased the equipment and is moving into the closing or negotiation phase of the selling process, which we will cover in the next article.
There are a lot of emotions running in a bunch of different directions during the presentation and demonstration process. The most important thing you can do for yourself is to spend time practicing with your vendor’s salespeople on the best way to present their equipment. Have them play the role of the customer, qualify them, take them to the equipment, grab a brochure, and practice what you are going to say and the questions you are going to ask to lead them to the buying decision. The more time that you spend practicing your technique, the smoother you will be when that customer enters your dealership, ready to spend money. The same thing holds true with objections. Don’t wait until you hear a customer say, “Your price is too high.” Take time to practice your response with co-workers. It may seem a little awkward and embarrassing, but I would rather practice with a co-worker and make a mistake, than practice on a customer and lose a sale.
In the next article, we will focus on closing and negotiation techniques that add dollars and margins to your bottom line.
The selling season is fast approaching — make a commitment to hone your selling skills and success will be yours.
Bob Clements is the president of Bob Clements International, Inc., a consulting firm that specializes in the development of high-performance dealerships. His organization works hands on with dealerships throughout North America, helping them attain the personal freedom and financial wealth all owners strive to achieve. For more information, contact Bob Clements at (800) 480-0737 or firstname.lastname@example.org or visit his Web site at www.bobclements.com.