Ups, customers, clients or clientele — it's not about labels, but about the attitudes they drive.
Simply changing the words that sales teams use can change their attitudes and drive an increase in closing ratios and bottom line profits.
For example — and as I mentioned in a previous column — instead of referring to individuals who walks into a showroom as “ups,” call them customers.
A customer has purchasing power and is likely to buy, while an “up” is simply a direction. It has no place in a salesperson's vocabulary.
While this is an important first step, ultimately the goal is to convert customers to clients. Those are people who engage the professional advice or services of another person repeatedly over time.
It is a proven fact that when a customer enters a dealership and asks for a particular salesperson, the closing percentage is 60% or higher as compared with an average 12%-15% for the typical prospect who is drawn into the dealership merely through advertising efforts and general awareness.
Clients not only ask for a specific salesperson, but they rely on his or her advice. And, knowing the clients, the salesperson is able to sell them a vehicle that may cost a bit more, but meets their needs so precisely, there is little room for discussion.
Sales people cultivate customers through prospecting and referrals. They convert customers into clients by establishing and maintaining personal communication.
That allows sales people to get to know clients and build a sense of trust. It is this trust that allows clients to rely on the salesperson for advice, and allows the salesperson to secure referrals and higher value and volume sales.
In creating clients, the most effective tool a salesperson has is the telephone. Yet it is often the least used.
Most sales people are reluctant to call customers after they take delivery because they are afraid of being put in a negative situation where the customer “gives them an earful” of what is wrong with the car. This negative attitude becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
If, however, the salesperson approaches the call with a positive attitude and chooses the words that will guide the conversation to a positive outcome, success is virtually guaranteed. Consider this simple conversation (never ask a question unless you know the answer):
Salesperson: “Hi, this is Steve calling from APB Motors. I know you just drove home your new automobile, and I have to ask you a question. Did you park the car in the street or in your driveway?”
Customer: “I parked it in the driveway.” (Of course, to show it off to the neighbors!)
Salesperson: “So, how's it look?”
Customer: “It looks great!”
Salesperson: “Have your neighbors seen it?”
Customer: “Yes, they are drooling. In fact Fred couldn't wait to have a ride.”
Salesperson: “Hey, would you mind if I gave Fred a call?”
Customer: “Sure, that's a great idea! Here's his number.”
Now, was that a positive or negative experience? It certainly was a better approach than calling and asking, “Is it running OK?” and then hearing about all the minor “problems” the customer discovered.
If a salesperson starts a conversation on a positive note, not only will it make the conversation easier, but it will allow the salesperson to guide it to a positive outcome.
When sales managers make the commitment to train their teams to adopt a positive attitude and help them develop clientele, the pay back is tangible and exponential.
When customers become clients, they begin to rely on their salesperson (and, by association, the dealership) to help them make decisions for all their transportation needs, from new vehicles, to additional vehicles for family and friends, and for service, accessories, and other products.
All this leads to higher sales, higher commissions, and higher bottom-line profits.
Richard F. Libin is president of Automotive Profit Builders Inc., a dealership consulting firm specializing in customer satisfaction and maximizing profits through personnel development and technology. He is at [email protected] and 508-626-9200.