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David Book

David Book Partner

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In a meeting with my partner the other day, we were discussing our industry  and where it may be headed, where it’s likely to change and how much different it is today than it was a few years ago. The overwhelming topic: “the young guys and the old-school guys.” 

Our conversation trended around the difference in how less experienced (usually younger) salespeople and older, more seasoned sales people, approach the car selling process. Older, more seasoned sales people seemed to be more likely to use an “old school” approach - treat customers like sitting ducks - do everything possible to close the sale - now. Younger, less experienced salespeople seemed to be more interested in building relationships, working referrals, and helping customers solve their problems in an effort to make a deal when the customers terms were met.

OK, OK, old-schoolers may be saying “wait just a minute, I help customers too!” and new reps may be saying “hang on, I’m interested in closing deals now!” Of course they are, we are all salespeople and all salespeople are interested in helping customers and closing deals. So, why do experienced salespeople tend to use old-school tactics and less experienced salespeople tend to use less pressure and more “help” in their approach? 

It’s my opinion that old-school tactics, such as overcoming objection after objection relentlessly until the prospect finally agrees, or, pressuring people and pulling them through a linear sales process until they walk-or-buy is one of the major problems our industry faces today. If you wouldn’t stand for this type of approach, why would you expect your prospect to? The fact is, our industry is plagued with credibility problems (car salespeople consistently rank LAST in surveys associated with consumer trust) and old-school selling tactics are at the root of the problem.

Unfortunately for car sales people (and consumers), there are very few managers or dealers willing to accept the idea that a more humane way of selling may actually improve sales numbers. Closed minded managers and dealers generally ignore the notion that a shift in mindset is needed . Consider this: What would your boss say if you “walked” a customer? How about avoiding a “turn” or worse yet, suggesting to a customer that “they may not be able to afford this car.” I’m guessing he wouldn’t be too happy, even if you were sincere in your efforts to help the customer.

It’s my opinion that Chrysler and GM are closing thousands of stores because they have a HUGE credibility problem. Sure, they claim it’s more efficient and cost effective to run a leaner operation, and this may be true. But, make no mistake about it, old-school selling tactics have troubled our industry for decades and many of the underperforming stores listed on the close-list continue to use old-school tactics. It’s no wonder they are underperforming!

What exactly is underperforming anyway? Could it be that these stores are underperforming because they continue to train their staff with old-school selling tactics? Could it be that underperforming stores could have performed better (and avoided the list) if they weren’t using selling strategies and processes that they themselves wouldn’t tolerate? Could it be that a dealer in Somewhere USA is outperforming a competitor (and staying off the list) because he gets it, he’s not change-resistant and he’s helping customers rather than “turning and burning?”  

I’ve written this post because I think our industry is in a state of denial and there are sales people and managers and dealers that think “waiting it out” is a good strategy. The fact is, if you wait out this downturn and think your dealer will operate functionally the “same” on the other side, your wrong. It won’t. Things will be different. Open your mind, embrace change, stop using old-school selling tactics. Or, you may find your stores name on the close-list.

Cheers
David Book
http://www.mygoaltracking.net

 


 

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