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Jared Hamilton
From: Jared Hamilton
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Jim Bell

Jim Bell Performance Manager

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Are You Selling the Sizzle or the Steak?

The other day I was at Panera Bread.  As I was sitting there eating my lunch during the busy lunch hour, I watched 8 people walk in the door within 45 minutes, and every single one said something to the effect of being too busy and “let’s go somewhere else.”  This was all within an earshot of employees that were helping clean tables.  Not one word was said to any of those customers as they just turned and walked out.  What if those employees were able to offer them a cookie or a pastry to keep that customer there and have a great lunch?  Would that have been enough to keep that customer in the restaurant?

 

Most managers have gotten a call or an email in their career where the customer states, “I was on the lot for 5 minutes and wasn’t helped.  I left and bought a car down the street that same day.”  So what is that first impression when we don’t help that customer?

 

Most dealerships will spend somewhere around $300+ to get a customer in the dealership.  So what are we doing with those customers when they get there?  There has been a lot of discussion about ZMOT over the last few months.  But what about the first moment of truth when the customer gets to the dealership?  Are we making that great first impression when they set foot on the lot to look at a car or make make that call to the dealership that we marketed online?  Are we getting to those customers within a few minutes, or are we letting customers go?  We work so hard and spend so much money to get the customer to the dealership or on the phone, and sometimes we have failed.  Too many times have I listened to phone calls where the customer is describing the vehicle to the salesman and then they are looking it up on the website themselves.  Salesmen need to walk the inventory and know it like the back of their hand.  It is their paycheck.  As far as i am concerned, if the customer knows more about the vehicle they are looking at than the salesperson, the customer hasn't done their job.  So when we fail that customer, or potential customer, what was that customer worth?

 

When that customer comes on the lot, be enthusiastic.  Are you going to sell the sizzle or the steak?  I have too many times seen a salesman walking the lot with his/her hands in their pockets and head down.  There is just no enthusiasm some times.  It goes back to the basics of selling yourself, the dealership, and then the product.  They need to know their inventory and where it is and show the customer what they are looking for in their wants and needs interview.  This will make them stand out from the guy on the lot a few blocks away.  So what are you doing to make yourself stand out from the rest of the crowd?

Bryan Armstrong
The old "would you like fries with that" attitude. Each opportunity needs to be seized upon as if it is the ONLY "UP" you'll have for the day. Excitement is infectious and should be present in your actions, tonality and attitude from the beginning moments of interaction. Remember, we win through SERVICE and establishing ourselves as caring individuals who are willing and able to go above and beyond in aiding our clients. One of the most common laments I hear from salespeople is " I thought _______ was helping them" or "I think they're JUST here for service". A friendly acknowledgement of our customers can do no harm and often-times create a deal. Good reminders here Jim! Great reminders.
Rob Fontano
Great article Jim! As I have said before, If we were greeted at an Apple store the way people are greeted at "too many" car dealerships we would be saying "Steve Jobs, Who?" Dealers can no longer afford to hire and retain based on sales and gross results only. We need people that are truly excited about the products and services that our stores provide and convey this to the consumer. There needs to be a tremendous culture shift in how we approach acknowledge and engage our customers on the lot and showroom and the sooner the better.
Chris Costner
What happened to the "want" to be of service to a potential client or as Dennis Galbraith said not long ago, the "intrinsic motivation?" You hit the nail on the head Jim. We need more "fire" in our industry. How many others make the same type of observations in our stores that you witnessed on your lunch break? Bryan, the "Only UP" for the day mindset is awesome. If everyone had that, could you imagine how infectious the positive energy would be in the marketplace? I would venture to say it would be on the "flash mob" level. Just awesome. Great post Jim. Thank you for sharing.
Chris Costner
Rob, I agree 100%. A "tremendous culture shift" is definitely needed and for those who aren't on board don't have a place in this industry any longer. I will venture to say one either has it or doesn't. I could be wrong. Can it be taught? How genuine would the results be?
Jim Bell
I love the "Excitement is infectious and should be present in your actions" is so true. It shows that you love your job and then the customer can get excited about the whole process then.

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