Remember the days of selling cars and products through the old technique called the box close?
Oh, really? You still use it? You still get away with that awkward system where your sales manager does his thing to work out deals by getting customers to settle on only a monthly payment?
Then he sends them into the finance manager to close those deals, knowing they're likely to be $30 or more a month over what buyers were told their base payment would be, because your sales manager's motto is that any finance manager who can't bump a payment more than $30 isn't doing his job.
Every day, inappropriate deals are sent into the Box for Jack to close. If Jack isn't closing on payment, he's closing on the sales figures.
It's a sorry state of affairs if your sales manager continues to pitch deals into Jack's finance office, without informing customers of what they have agreed to pay for their vehicle.
Pity the sales manager if he's out on the floor rubbing his hands, doing a little tap dance and fully believing that, if these customers accepted his quoted figure, they've bought the vehicle.
Why bring up a sore subject — like the full price of the vehicle — and cast doubts on their ability to buy? Why disclose the real numbers of any model on the floor? Let Jack the finance officer handle it.
And pity Jack, too. Let's say Jack has just returned from two days at menu school. He takes out a menu, fills in the blanks, and reviews the buying information with the eager customer. “Wait a second!” she thinks. “That isn't the number the sales guy quoted! Is Jack out to get me?”
Jack's inflated numbers aren't based on anything she thought she had originally agreed upon. She points this out and makes ready to leave the office, voicing her disappointment. She really wanted the vehicle, but now she can't afford it.
Jack is suddenly backpedaling and everything he learned in menu selling school goes flying out the door.
Hastily, he goes back to the system that has always made him a little money under these circumstances. Jack climbs back into his box.
Jack isn't going to use full disclosure, transparent selling any more. He's going to stick to the old box close. Why? Because he's failed to realize the most important aspect of vehicle and menu selling today is insisting that all managers and staff must be on the same page at all times if support of full disclosure, transparent selling is to be successful.
It must be used every day, all day, by every employee, and with every customer. And it begins on the sales floor.
Today's high-tech savvy and social media customers aren't shy about spreading the word about any company's services or personnel, be it positive or negative.
Your dealership and the services it offers will get you plenty of free word-of-mouth advertising. But, remember, it can be as negative as it can be positive.
Be sure that the tweeting, chirping and buzz about your firm is affirmative and glowing in its praise.
So, while the social media will surely become a portal to your dealership community, make the decision that once any customer arrives on your doorstep, everyone in your store will honor your commitment to fully transparent selling.
No more box-close tactics. No sales gimmicks. No hidden fees. No fudging of numbers. Only full disclosure of prices, costs, products, taxes, interest and whatever else is involved in closing the deal.
Then you'll inspire trust and earn those raving social network comments. Then the time you spend increasing your presence, social-media and otherwise, will be worth the time and effort.
Your customers will thank you. Not only that. Your bottom line will thank you, too.
Note: Join my new live in-depth webinar on how to effectively manage a F&I office. All professionals are encouraged to attend, especially people seeking F&I positions, as well as Internet and sales managers who have no previous F&I experience. Contact me at www.ccilearningcenter.com or 404-276-4026.
F&I trainer Rebecca Chernek is CEO of Chernek Consulting Inc. She can be reached at 404-276-4026 and [email protected].
Questions or comments about this column?
Send us an e-mail at [email protected].