The Road to a Sale is Broken - Revisited

Many years ago, I wrote an article titled “The Road To A Sale Is Broken.” Well, it’s not only still broken, it’s fractured beyond recognition.


Attention dealers: Take the time this week to review and rethink from scratch every step in your routing procedures. Review these steps from beginning to end, and review all team members involved both on the front line and behind the scenes. Review all the technologies you have and determine what is the most effective use and integration of each one.


Do not allow status quo thinking of “We have always done it this way.” Every week in dealerships, I witness customers walking in who are several steps deep into the sales process but are then shoved back into step one. The customers get frustrated and the process becomes disjointed.


For what seems like forever, we have taught a sales process that emphasizes moving a customer through three stages:

• Character • Emotion • Logic


The standard process emphasizes getting rapport and allowing the customer to satisfy their assessment of your character, then giving a presentation that creates strong emotion in the customer and then the customer moves into the final stage of logically deciding how to purchase the vehicle. All of these stages are still necessary; the order, however, has been inverted.


Today, an average customer has spent significant time in education and research. Obviously, by the time the customer contacts a dealership they are heavily into the “logic” stage of buying. Because of the significant time spent in advance of buying, the average customer now walks into one dealer and buys. In the past, a customer was visiting closer to five dealerships before they purchased.


Because a customer is still in a “logic” stage upon entering the dealership, what can you do to take them even deeper into that funnel before and after they arrive at the dealership? You will, in essence, be the anti-salesperson. You will be giving information and sharing logic-based criteria that will allow the customer to automatically judge your character as the person and place to do business. Now, you have allowed the customer to move effortlessly through the process in a way that they want, and not a cookie-cutter system based upon outdated models of selling. Everything should be based upon TLC: Think Like a Customer.


What technologies do you utilize in your dealership that would assist you as you use it with the customer? If you use trade-in technology, why not use it in conjunction with the customer? If you utilize CRMs, why not involve the customer in the explanation of how this will affect them? If you use other communication technologies, get customers involved to tailor everything to them.


Next, think of who at your dealership will perform which duties. The next generation of selling will provide more and more specialization, where there are less “superstar, do it all” salespeople. Think of building your staff and process in a way that does not violate human nature. Most people are good at a couple of things, but few are good at all things. Design your process around the idea of your staff doing a few tasks really well, and then holding them accountable to those things.


Your Internet sales staff will function based upon strict criteria. Your floor salespeople may become product specialists designed at giving customers an incredible “wow” factor from the meet and greet through logic and then presentation/demonstration. Your managers could become sales specialists/floor managers/facilitators who assist the product specialists from the beginning to end of the process. Think of how to move the managers up the sales channel, rather than at the end. You should try to eliminate the uncomfortable “Hello T.O.” that often occurs at the end of the sales process when the deal is either lost or near dead.


It’s way past time to bury the traditional sales process based upon what you want and not what the customer wants. It’s way past time to base your sales process upon what a customer thinks and needs before they go into a dealership. Sometimes you just have to let things go before you can allow yourself to move forward.

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