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Mark Tewart

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The Death of the Traditional Dealership: Part 4

Everyone talks about change, but few people embrace it. Change is growth, and growth is positive and unavoidable. If you don’t change, the world will change without you and leave you behind. In business today, change is occurring at a rapid pace and is causing the death of traditional salespeople as we know them.


In the age-old process of selling, the emphasis has been on a linear “road to the sale” process. Step One leads to Step Two and so on. The Internet information age has made the traditional road to the sale obsolete. Your customer today may be on Step Three or Four from the beginning, instead of the traditional Step One. Traditional salespeople try to force the customer through a funnel no matter what the customer says or feels. Today, flexibility and understanding in the sales process is the key.


The traditional sales process talked about features and benefits. If you are selling just features and benefits today, you are at a strong disadvantage. It’s simply not enough. You must communicate features, benefits and value wrapped up in a story and shared through an experience. People want to be involved and, when they are, it strengthens their commitment. Traditional selling is something that is done to someone and modern selling is something that is experienced with the help of a communicator/ facilitator/problem solver.


In the traditional sales process, price is never mentioned until the feature-benefit presentation has been made. Price is avoided and evaded. In today’s market, you cannot ignore the issue of price; instead, you must address it up front to eliminate the fear and establish trust. By addressing price, you will move the customer past price apprehension and eliminate the fight caused by avoiding and evading. This does not mean you have to be a quote machine, but it does mean that you cannot be afraid to discuss the issue of price to move past it.


In the traditional road to the sale, you would address the customer’s trade-in at the time of the appraisal because it’s part of the pricing structure and, therefore, part of the negotiations and a potential objection. In the modern sales process, you recognize the trade-in as being a major comfort zone of the customer and a great tool to build rapport and find out the customers patterns of buying. You will now address the trade-in willingly up front in the process. People repeat buying behavior whether it’s in person or on the Internet. The Internet is just another medium used in the process and customers emulate offline and online behaviors and patterns.


In the traditional road to the sale, customers are asked to make a buying commitment before they are given figures. Imagine scaring your customers so much before you gave them figures that you created a fear about buying. That’s exactly what often happens in a traditional sales process. If you want to commit a customer, do so throughout the sales process in small commitments, based upon the process and the value of the product and their satisfaction. Get continual agreements about the two things all customers care about today — time and money. All people want to save time and money. Use these keywords throughout the whole sales process and get agreement about how everything you are sharing with them, everything they are experiencing and the manner in which you are doing it is creating opportunities for them to save time and money. Perception becomes reality. Frame the perceptions and thoughts and you will frame the basis of the customer’s decision all without making them commit to a buying decision too early in the sale process when they don’t have enough information. This old school form of commitment is just “If I could would you…” run amok.


Utilize as many modalities of learning as possible with your customer. Allow people to see, hear, feel and experience. Old school selling was dominated by telling things to customers and making verbally dominated presentations. The problem is that many of your customers are not auditory learners. The popular method of selling in the past has not matched the way a customer tends to learn and absorb information in a comfortable way. Through proper questioning, you can easily define a person’s dominant mode of learning and weave in the other modalities to put the customers buying experience on steroids. Utilize video, audio and experiential steps in the buying process and your customers will begin to feel what I call the “Disneyland Effect.” Create sensory amazement with your customer.


Your customer should never be able to walk away from the buying experience they have with you and compare it to any other salesperson. The traditional salesperson tried to find the right car, information and price for the customer and hoped he got the sale. Today, the customer can get those things anywhere and never leave the house to get it. Your marketplace demands more. Start to reevaluate your sales process by thinking of the following questions:


• What are other salespeople not doing?


• What would be the opposite of what other salespeople do?


• What do customers want, and in what way do they want it?


• What would make you stand out from anyone else?


• What parts of traditional selling should be tweaked, changed or removed altogether to create an easier, better buying experience?


• What is the customer’s biggest fear and how do I remove it?


• What do I have the most fear about eliminating or changing in my sales process and why?


Usually the biggest rewards are in attacking the areas we fear the most. The things we tend to hold as the strongest foundations and that would absolutely be unthinkable to change are the very things that tend to lead to the biggest breakthroughs. Traditional selling is dead and that is a good thing. Ten years from now, the breakthroughs of today will be obsolete. The question for you is, will you be obsolete?

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