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Dealers promote step-by-step sales processes in nearly every store we visit. Processes help us by allowing us to stay focussed, track and measure results (how many ups do I need to take to sell 15 units?) and predict the future (this ad budget should produce this much traffic). But, applying a rigid sales process every time, with every customer, is not a good approach. In fact, flexibility is an important skill that many salespeople never learn. It is especially important when trying to set appointments.
We all know the steps: Meet-Greet, Fact-Find, Walk-Around, Road-Test, Demo-Drive, Write-Up, Counter-Objections, Close. 6, 7, 8 steps, each store is a little different but nearly all stores will follow something close to the "8 Step Process" listed. Here's the ironic part. The "easier" the customer transitions from step-to-step, the LESS likely you are to actually close the deal. We have all had the client that eagerly went along with the plan, liked the car, drove it, became our "buddy" in 15 minutes, then signed the 4-square on the commitment line. Everything was great until the desk manager blew-up the deal when he discovered the 450 beacon, the "ex-spouse" or any other reason the guy "layed down" in the first place.
Sometimes it doesn't make any sense to follow a rigid linear sales process. Sometimes it makes more sense to "change it up." In the case above, wouldn't it be nice to learn early on that the guy couldn't buy a car no matter what you did? Yeah, the write-up spiff is nice, but geez, an hour and a half for twenty buck spiff? I would never advocate pre-qualifying anyone - ever. In the case of the walk-in client (yes, we still get them occasionally) stick with the plan, don't assume anything, show the value, ask the questions, follow the steps.
Your dealers step-by-step phone strategy includes asking for an appointment. The problem is, if we ask for an appointment every time (using our linear sales strategy), some customers will feel pressured, uncomfortable, and immediately "turn off" to your approach. Think about it, have you ever been forced through a sales process that you didn't feel comfortable with? I think you have. Setting appointments is just like selling and rigid processes are not always the best approach. Here is a strategy you can use when trying to set an appointment with a customer that isn't quite ready to commit to an appointment. When you're talking on the phone with a prospect and you're attempting to set an appointment, sometimes things just don't go well. You know, they guy you want to "ask" for an appointment from but you also know that you haven't really earned the right to. It is a difficult position to be in. If you ask for the appointment and get a "no" you will probably never get another chance with this prospect. Or, ignore the question and probably never get another chance! Here's an alternative approach when your really not sure if you have earned-the-right to ask for the appointment. Instead of asking for the appointment, try "well Mr. Customer, where do we go from here?" You will be suprised at the number of people that set their own appointment because you have allowed THEM to control the process. This is not about you, it's about them, it always has been. Most of us forget this from time-to-time.
Features, advantages, and benefits are important. But, in today's market it is sometimes less about "what you sell" and more about "how you sell." Allowing the customers to change your process slightly is a strategy that works well when trying to set appointments. Don't be so rigid that you lose opportunities. Be creative, be flexible, and by all means, don't pretend this is about YOU and YOUR process. It isn't. It's about maximizing the chances of getting the customer to the dealership where they can actually do what you want them to - buy a car.
David is a tech-guru at http://www.mygoaltracking.net