Decisions all Customers Make

As a salesperson it is a good idea to take a step back and put ourselves in our customer’s shoes, to view the perceptions that our customers have and to take a look at what our businesses and processes look like from their eyes. For example, as a salesman and trainer for an auto dealership group I want step over the curb so to speak and view what buying a car may be like to the average person. This view may look something like this:

I approach the dealership, I am a little nervous because the last time I did this it was a real challenge trying to find a salesperson that I liked and felt comfortable with. I tell the salesperson who has greeted me that “I’m just looking”  to keep them at arm’s length so that I can take my time and look around. But after brushing off the first salesperson now I can’t find one to answer my questions let alone to give me a product presentation and demonstration ride so I leave and go to another dealership. I finally find a car that I like and a salesperson that is friendly I buy it from them. I figured they would stay in touch since I told them that I would need another car in a year or so. Great thought but no such luck! I need that new car now and the salesperson hasn’t contacted me and I can’t remember their name or find their card, so it’s back to square one, but I don’t mind because it sure is fun owning a new car. I ‘m excited about getting that new car and have been wanting it for a while and have been coming up with all the reasons to justify the purchase….I mean there is the guilt of spending the money, I could really hold on to the old car a little longer and money is a little tight right now, but so what it always is, so I take a deep breath and step on the lot again and hope I get a nice salesperson to answer all my questions. Yes, I have lots of questions. I need to know models, equipment, color availability, price, payments, interest rates and trade values but there are really only five questions that I have to answer for myself.

1. “Is this the RIGHT product for me?” I know these are good cars but what about the competitors? All the manufactures are making good cars and I have heard good things about them as well.
2. “Do I NEED all these features?” Yeah all these features are cool, the sunroof, satellite radio and navigation system, but how much are they raising the cost and do I really need them?
3. “I wonder if this is the right PLACE to get my new car.” Service is going to be important to me. I thought the other dealer was going to be the right place but look what happened when I needed help after the sale.
4. “Can I AFFORD it; am I getting my money’s worth?” I like the car the color and equipment but it is a big investment. I’m probably going to have to spend the next five years paying for it, is it worth it?
5. “WHEN should I buy my new car?” Is today the right day or should I wait till the end of the month or wait until next year when the new models come out?

So you can see customers are anxious, nervous, excited and cautious all at the same time, and it is completely understandable since it is such a major decision. How well a job you do answering these questions will determine if you get the sale or not. As a salesperson you have to tailor you product presentation and demonstrations to answer these questions before they are vocalized, just know that all of your customers will have these concerns. So let’s take a quick look on how we can begin to answer these questions for our guests.

1. “Is this the RIGHT product for me?” If we do a good needs analysis with our guests this will give us the opportunity to tailor our presentations to show the customer how it fulfills the dominate buying motives that they might have.
2. “Do I NEED all these features?” Once we have determined what the guests dominate buying motives are we can then determine if the options are “needs or wants” and then in our presentation begin to fit the options into their life.
3. “I wonder if this is the right PLACE to get my new car.” This is the opportunity to not only tell the guest about our locations, reputations and service departments but we should show them those departments and introduce them to the staff that will be taking care of them after the sale.
4. “Can I AFFORD it; am I getting my money’s worth?” Of all the concerns price isn’t the major factor, important yes but not the most important, because it isn’t about price but more about value. If as a salesperson you present the features and benefits of those features and the guest wants the car more than their pile of money most will justify the purchase.
5. “WHEN should I buy my new car?” Of all the concerns this is the biggest unknown and the hardest one to control. But if we as a salesperson answer the first four concerns perform a great value building presentation, demonstration and service walk the “I need to think about it” can turn into a purchasing decision today.

Though I have used the example here of purchasing an automobile these same concerns will come up in any major purchasing decision whether it is a house, boat, or electronic device.  Just do a good job of uncovering the customers discontent, solve that problem and you will increase your sales.

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Are you holding an ACE in the hole?

 

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“One should always play fairly when one has the winning cards.”-Oscar Wilde

If you have ever played cards there is no better feeling than holding that ACE in the hole.  An ACE in the hole gives you the confidence to play your hand more aggressive and more boldly than you would normally play.  An ACE makes you feel like you can win most any hand.  Those who are successful in life have that same  ACE in the hole that gives them that same confidence to be aggressive and bold.  What is that ACE; that hidden card that some people seem to have?

A winners ACE in the hole is:

A-ttitude : We all have an attitude whether positive or negative. People can see, sense and feel our attitude. Are you the type of person that people like to be around? Do people turn to you if they need help? Do people do business with you because they see the value that you bring to the transaction or just because you have the lowest price? These answers are all determined by your attitude.

C-haracter : A person’s character determines their destiny. From Presidents to sports stars many a leader has fallen in disgrace because of poor choices and flaws in their character. How is your character? What words do people use to describe you when you are not around? Do people use words to describe you like trustworthy, dependable, loyal, industrious, moral and servant leader?

E-xecution : The winners in life have a game plan and then they execute that plan. They take ownership of their life and, win or lose, they hold themselves accountable for those results. What winners don’t do is adjust or lower the bar! What winners do is make adjustments to attain their goals. Winners know that if they don’t get their desired results, they examine where their execution broke down and make the necessary adjustments or seek out help in order to get the results they want.

Unlike a deck of cards there are an unlimited number of ACEs, enough that every person can play one. The question is will you bluff your way through life, fold from fear or play your winning hand.

The Eagle Stirreth Her Nest

The title of this post is borrowed from the famous sermon “The Eagle Stirreth Her Nest” by Rev. C. L. Franklin.   In this sermon Rev. Franklin describes how the eagle builds a nest for its young with sticks and thorns but lines it with straw, leaves and down from its own body making the nest safe, soft and comfortable for the small eaglet.  As the eaglets grow and mature into young birds the parent then begins to remove the soft items from the nest allowing the thorns to stick through making it more and more uncomfortable forcing the younger eagles to spread their wings and begin to fly leaving what use to be its “comfort zone”.  Now the Reverend uses this analogy to explain why God allows difficulties to come into our lives which is  to remind us to pray and to grow in our faith.  I think this is also a great example of what we as Leaders need to do to help our team grow. Much like the eagle we have to provide a soft and safe place for our team to grow be there if they need help but then we have to make them do things that force them out of their comfort zones in order for them to mature and grow.  There are seven keys to helping our followers “leave the nest”.

1.  We have to be absolutely clear about what we expect from them.  Clearly defined goals and guidelines are a must.

2.  We have to make certain that these expectations “stretches” them and it’s just not an average.  Remember average is where sucks starts.

3.  We have to give quick sometimes brutal feedback.  We have to care enough about our team to confront them if they are not following the processes or not meeting the stated expectations.

4.  We have to hold them accountable.  Like the young eaglet if it doesn’t fly right it will crash and burn with dire consequences.  Our team has to know that if there are not desired behaviors and results there will be consequences for that unacceptable behavior.

5.  We have to lead by example.  Often our followers mimic our actions and not our words.  It is difficult for a leader to hold their team accountable if they are not holding themselves accountable.

6.  We have to be available to our team.  In order to influence our team we have to engage them and not hide behind our desk or titles.

7.  We have to be consistent.  Discipline in our words, thoughts and actions will build a culture of character for our team.

As a Leader are there any of these areas that you need to get better at?  Do your words and actions reflect these areas?  Even as Leaders we have to leave our nests and comfort zones so that our teams can soar with the eagles.

Trust: The Catalyst of all Sales

Trust  is the basis for all relationships and the catalyst for all sales.  Without trust  the sale becomes a transactional commodity.  Without trust  you have to be the absolute cheapest or have the only one in the area to secure the sale and the chance for repeat and referral business is difficult if not impossible.

When we develop trust  it becomes more about the value of your product or service and what you as a person brings to the sale and less about the price. High trust  also means a shorter decision time frame as well as a shorter negotiation period.

The quickest way to develop trust  is to give people a healthy dose of vitamin “C ” ; Competence, Confidence and Communication.

Trust is developed when people deal with professionals who are competent and show an expertise in their products and processes.

Trust is more often lost than gained when dealing with people who show a lack of confidence in their products and processes.  When you show a lack of confidence you are exhibiting the same body language as someone who is being untruthful. Be sure to not only speak well of your product but walk proudly as well.

High trust  is best established with good communication. High trust people not only know what to say but when and how to say it.  They are able to adapt their communication style and speed to that of their customers personality.

Finally high trust  people also communicate why  they do what they do. As Simon Sinek states in his book Start with Why : “people don’t buy what you do they buy why you do it.”

Momentum

As business picks up and we begin to build momentum it will be easy to forget about our recent down turn and struggles. Now having a short term memory when it comes to failure is a sign of a true winner. However, forgetting our struggles and riding the wave of the current momentum can make one over confident and complacent. As we enjoy the upward trend of sales we may decide that we don’t need or are too busy to recruit, interview and hire new talent to replace our under performing members. Or worse yet we stop training and sacrifice our processes with the mindset “hey we don’t need that stuff, we’re selling cars aren’t we?”. When we have momentum either negative, like we had for several years or positive like we are currently experiencing, we must remember as Leaders that we were never as bad as we may have thought we were and we aren’t as good as we now think that we are. Momentum is good as long as we stay grounded and continue to follow our game plans and processes.