I’ve just spent 6 of the last 9 days working with 2 very professional sales teams; both from high volume and very profitable Honda stores in the SE; profitable because of their fixed operations and used car departments. 42 different sales team members, consultants and managers alike, went on videotape to demonstrate their skills at presenting the numbers and handling the most predictable objections. We have videotaped over 10,000 sales team members during the last 10 years; from Honolulu to NYC, Seattle to Miami, and most places in-between. The results are as predictable as the customer’s objections.

When a sales team is able to move the prospect from the meet and greet to the write-up they have done way more right than wrong. In all likelihood they have sold themselves, their store, and the vehicle. Some might even say the vehicle is “sold” but the money hasn’t changed hands. The prospect was “sold” up to this point very successfully, or they wouldn’t still be around. However once the write-up starts, the SELLING STOPS.

The best of the best suggest more cash or a longer term when there is a payment objection. I wonder how many customers exclaim “WOW, did you hear that honey; if we put down more cash and/or extend our term we can lower our payments – I didn’t know that!” When hearing the trade-in objection 90% ask the customer what they think their trade is worth, then rapidly move to a confrontational conversation by making the customer defend their number - brilliant?Of course the “we have to recondition your vehicle because it’s a pig” justification is used universally. How many prospective customers really care what a dealership has to do with their trade, in order to make a profit?

The price objection elicits the most moronic of responses; the most sophisticated being some version of “if you can’t afford a nice one, you’ll have to settle for a not-so-nice one.” – Charming.

Automotive sales people get a bad rap from the buying public not so much for who they are, as for what they are taught to say by the “industry experts” and often, their managers. Sales people make a poor living, not because they don’t work hard, but because they are trained to fail and work within a dated sales process that is offensive to the consumers, expensive for the dealers, and inefficient for all parties. Sales people turnover at an atrocious rate because the system is broken.

Dealers leave billions of dollars on the table because once the financial aspects of the transaction have to be dealt with, the SELLING STOPS. What takes place during the negotiating and closing sequences of the sales process is the caricature of what the public has come to despise. This site, and most others, are loaded with "how to use the Internet better" advice. Lots of SEO, ONG, KTT, and BS talk. Problem is, there is a difference between marketing and selling. Both are important, but selling seems completely neglected. Too many seem to feel "the way it's always been done if fine." Wrong, the “Emperor has no clothes on.”

What say you?

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Comment by Steve Richards on August 24, 2010 at 6:39am
Wendall, what you say is irrefutable.
Comment by Wendell Hardy on August 23, 2010 at 10:59pm
I don't care how strong your closer is. If you don't get the customer in the right vehicle to start, you are only pissing the customer off when you try and switch them to a "less" unit. There is a time to slow down, and listen...that happens up front. Then you are able to understand the "needs" not the "wants"..It's okay to let the customer "bump" themselves, as long as you keep it real with what they are trying to spend. Fancy word tracks and "closes" are only going to get you so far...and most times it ends up in a mini deal! Car 'em up right before you start, or at least let them know what car fits the budget that they are looking for..the customer at least knows what they can expect at least. Just sayin!
Comment by Ed Wilczek on August 20, 2010 at 9:30pm
More like, "The Emperor has no clothes because he couldn't afford the payment. But, if he's willing to stretch the terms a bit...."

I think that a part of the problem with sales consultants leaving money on the table during negotiations was that there was never a proper interview done of the customer in the first place. So many sales consultants just wander the lot with the customer until a customer buys with their eyes. This may work if you have a killer closer, but for the everyday sales consultant, understanding together that $200/month most likely won't get the customer into a $68,000 luxury SUV makes the experience a bit better on all sides. The sales consultant won't feel like they've had a stroke customer, and the customer doesn't feel like they were just lead around and over-promised.

Taking this a step further and writing down the important details of the conversation also gives you a great tool for closing -- the customer's own words. The phrase of the Miranda rights, "Anything you say can, and will, be used against you." can help the sales consultant overcome some of the banal objections that customers throw out. It shouldn't be interrogative in nature, but rather more of a conversational nature. I'm terribly forgetful, but I was able to show that I was at least engaged in the conversation.

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