The Value of the Imbedded Sales Process
Ask yourself this question: “Do you want to run a loose ship and still make money or a tight ship and make lots of money?” Look, I know that money isn’t everything, but it’s a great way to keep score. Where am I going with this? Well, in my opinion every dealership should have an embedded sales process. For this and many other reasons, structure at the sales desk is imperative. It leads to consistency and predictability and eliminates surprises.
One way to accomplish this is the proper use of desk questions. Too often we train our sales people to ask questions of customers because we know that information is power. Unfortunately, sometimes when they try to share that information, the manager cuts them off by saying, “I don’t need all that. I need to know three things: Are they buying today? Do they have a trade? Where do they want their payments?” If that happens, all the training we have done gets undone in an instant and the salesperson gets retrained on the spot. It’s called negative reinforcement and it is a killer. There are 3 main reasons why salespeople fail: 1) They don’t know what to do. 2) They don’t know how to do it or 3) Someone interferes with their desire or ability to do it. We can train them for the “what and how to do it,” but that is too often overwhelmed by someone interfering with their desire or ability to do it.
What if everyone who desks a deal in your store asks the same questions of salespeople every time, without fail? Not only would you be armed with great information to aid in properly structuring a deal, but you would be training the salespeople to do their jobs properly. If they knew they were going to be held accountable for getting the answers, even those who are resistant to change would eventually get the message.
Here are some potential desk questions from which you can choose. This is not an exhaustive list, so add or delete as you like.
1) “Which vehicle did the customer drive and what impressed them the most?” This question puts the emphasis on taking demo drives because if they didn’t take one, they can’t answer the question. 2) “Who is the vehicle for?” We need to know if we are directing our efforts to the right person. 3) “Why is the customer in the market right now?” In other words, is it a need or just a want? 4) “What brought them into our store today?” There are lots of dealerships - why ours? 5) “What equipment do they absolutely have to have?” People have both wants and needs. Needs MUST be satisfied. 6) “Are all decision makers here?” That tells us whether we can do business. 7) “Is any other equipment to be factored into the proposal?” Let’s have no surprises—otherwise the customer often wants us to throw things in for free. 8) “Is the vehicle ready for SPOT delivery?” In other words, if we want to pull the trigger—can we? 9) “Are there other vehicles being considered?” Always know your competition. 10) “Why are they replacing their vehicle at this time?” Is there urgency? 11) “Tell me about the vehicle they are replacing.” This encourages that a silent trade appraisal is done by the salesperson. 12) “When the figures are agreeable, they are ready to complete the paperwork now, correct?” That is a better question than the often asked “are they a buyer today?” 13) “Why aren’t they closing at this time?” (assuming they are not). Is it a legitimate reason, an excuse or confusion? 14) “What impressed them about your parts and service value walk?” That ensures that one was taken prior to negotiating while it can build additional value and affect the outcome. And 15) “What are the reasons you feel this deal should close?” Hope springs eternal, so let’s be as positive as we can be for everyone’s sake.
As I mentioned, this is not an all-encompassing list, but let it serve as a springboard to putting additional structure into what is sometimes an unstructured environment. The results are worth it.