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Jared Hamilton
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Jason Unrau

Jason Unrau Freelance Contributor

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Advisor Selling Skills: Are You Overthinking the Sale?

The Christmas season is upon us, closely followed by New Years. It’s a magical time of the year that’s full of Christmas cheer, time spent with family and friends, and for many, a celebration of their faith. And let’s not forget the gifts!

But what exactly does Christmas have to do with service advisor selling skills?

This is the perfect time of the year to get back to the basics. There’s something that every service advisor does at some point; a trap they fall into. That flaw is in assuming how a customer’s visit will go. Here’s what I mean, from personal experience.

A customer pulls into the service drive to check in for their appointment. They’ve booked a basic service but they’re also overdue for other maintenance. Since it’s the week before Christmas, there’s a good chance they have a busy schedule to attend to. So, instead of making the additional service recommendations, you give it a pass.

That same customer’s vehicle is in the shop for its service. The technician submits an estimate for the same maintenance you didn’t pre-sell, as well as a few additional things. The brakes might be down to 15 percent, or the tires are worn down to 3/32nd. You tell the tech to just note it and you’ll get the customer to come back. After all, they’ve probably maxed out their Visa for Christmas gifts anyway.

Doing a Disservice

I can tell you from personal experience that, while you think you’re helping the customer out, you’re actually doing them a disservice. Here’s why.

Assuming Their Finances

You don’t know what a customer can and can’t afford. You just can’t know that unless you ask. All service advisors have fallen into the same trap before, some more often than others. Just because a vehicle has high mileage, it’s behind on maintenance, or the customer isn’t dressed in Gucci and Armani, it doesn’t mean they can’t afford the maintenance and repairs.

Assuming Their Priorities

Again, you can’t assume to know what a customer’s priorities might be. If you take a pass on selling maintenance, brakes, tires, or what have you, the customer isn’t given the opportunity to approve the sale. What if that vehicle owner is traveling two states over to visit family on icy roads but their tires aren’t in good condition to make the journey safely? What if their brakes don’t last throughout the family vacation and an emergency stop is required to take care of it?

Betraying Their Trust

Every customer that brings their vehicle to the service department expects the same thing: service they can trust. If you’ve made the decision solely to NOT present recommended maintenance or repairs, you’re breaking their trust. How can they expect honest, trustworthy service the next time they come? Are you going to make assumptions on their behalf again?

Let the Customer Decide

It’s not your vehicle, it’s not your finances, and it’s not your decision. As a service advisor, strive to offer the same customer service to each client you meet, every day. That means offering the customer the chance to buy tires from you, have you replace their brakes, and get your certified technician to perform their regularly scheduled maintenance.

Some customers are going to turn you down, and that’s part of the job. You won’t make every sale, whether that’s because of finances, time, priorities, or any other factor. But what you can do is show your customers that you have their interests in mind by offering the opportunity for them to say YES to you.

During this hectic season, it’s easy to go off the rails, take it easy, and stop selling properly. I encourage you to stick to the basics, leave your assumptions at the door, and stop overthinking the sale. Let your customers surprise you.

Bryan Armstrong

I love this! Sharing to my Service Managers now. :-) 

Bart Wilson

Good stuff Jason. One thing my service advisor does is plant the seed for the next visit. He'll say, "You don't need it right now, but you should think about _________ for your next service."

Mark Rask

This is good stuff

Gloria Powers

A Great article, and as a salesperson, I took something away from it, which is not to expect a customer can't afford the payments and or come up with a good down payment!

Jason Unrau

Gloria, that's exactly right! I'm glad you found value in it. 

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